“Now that the party’s over, can I create a world under the table again?” Maddie asked.

She’d been rather hard-done-by when she’d had to pack up her little imaginary home under the dining room table when her sister’s birthday warranted two separate parties in two consecutive weekends. Dolls, stuffed animals, her plastic stool/anything-she-wants-it-to-be, magical boxes full of treasure – all had to be stashed into her bedroom until the rest of the family members stopped caring about the messes that guests weren’t supposed to see.

“Sure you can,” I said, wanting to encourage her imagination and knowing that these magical worlds always equal hours of independent play and less need for Mommy’s attention.

An hour later, I found her there, lying still on the floor, staring up at the bottom of the table. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m daydreaming,” she said. “I have to do it here because I’m not allowed to do it at school.”

“You’re not allowed to?”

“No, Madame says we’re supposed to read, not daydream.”

“Well,” I said, “in my experience, if you pretend you’re reading, you can still daydream without anyone knowing you’re doing it! I still do it and I’m 43 years old!”

Her eyes twinkled at the thought of mildly deceiving Madame – with her mom’s permission.

“Yeah, I do that sometimes,” she grinned.

It might not make me Mom-of-the-year where the education system is concerned, but I’m much more interested in Mom-of-the-year where Maddie is concerned.

True to form, she spent the rest of the afternoon under the table. Later I found her curled up in a ball completely covered in a table cloth. When I asked what she was doing, she let me peek under the table cloth. She’d hauled the battery-operated camping lantern out of the basement and was pretending it was her campfire under the tent.

It’s good to have a 7 year old around to remind me of magical worlds in ordinary places, the wonders of a plastic stool, and the value of daydreaming.

When’s the last time you created a magical world under the table? And when’s the last time you lay on your back just to daydream? Maybe you should stop what you’re doing and try it, just for awhile.

Take it from my 7 year old artist/guru – it’s a wonderful way to pass a Sunday afternoon!

(And in case you’re an educator and you’re worried that her daydreaming is keeping her from reading, she dove into her very first chapter book this weekend and proudly and delightfully read 137 pages!)

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