When Emma was four, her favorite book was “Look Out For Pirates”. It’s a story about a group of sailors who outwit some pirates; keeping them away from their treasure. And like all good pirate/buried treasure stories, X marks the spot. And let me tell you, Emma spent a bit of time hunting around the fields on our farm for an X.
It just so happens that on the far end of the lake where we spend a good deal of time, there is a small island. The outer edges are sand and gravel—perfect for a picnic, sunbathing, and resting after swimming. The inner part of the island, however, is filled with trees and underbrush. So…John and I decided to take the kids up there one day to swim and have lunch…and to finally give Emma the opportunity to find buried treasure.
Once we’d tied the boat off and were on the shore, John sneaked off to bury a little bag containing candy, gum, some money, and a few other little things. It wasn’t buried very deep, and on top of it he placed a great big X made from sticks.
He was back in no time and suggested that we cut through the trees to go to the other side of the island. The kids were all game for that, so off we went with John leading the way; making sure Emma was closest to him. As we came to the place where X marked the buried treasure, John stopped; pretending he needed to blow his nose or something like that. It didn’t take but a second for Emma to spy the X and in no time, she had unearthed the buried treasure. She was overjoyed, to say the least, and thankfully her siblings, who quickly caught on, didn’t blow our cover. In fact, they went right along with us; making the ‘event’ even more special.
Now I know there may be some pragmatics out there thinking it was wrong to ‘lie’ to Emma. But I don’t agree. What we did for Emma that day was to allow her to take an adventure she wanted to take. But we also did something else—something even more important. We showed Emma that even the seemingly impossible is possible—if you keep trying and don’t give up.
It was a few years before Emma realized how the treasure came to be there that day, but that didn’t matter to her. What mattered was that 1) it had been there, and 2) we valued her feelings enough to give her the experience.
The reminder I want to leave with you is this: don’t squelch your child’s imagination and dreams. If you can help make your young child’s dreams come true and allow them to live out some of their imagination (to an extent), you will find that as they grow older, your child won’t be afraid to be their own individual rather than merely going with the flow. They will be more creative and confident.
So ask yourself: how can you help your child find their buried treasure?
Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
Emma and her sweet one year-old, Essie