Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Imagination Under Attack

Raphaela's alter ego is Baby Unicorn.  Baby Unicorn has magical powers, scares away frightening thoughts, loves to snuggle under the covers, and often expresses what Raphaela is feeling deep inside.  As a mother I am totally cool with this imaginary friend as a part of our family.

Yesterday while shopping, I saw a sparkly unicorn shirt for Raphaela, and had to buy it for her,  (especially because it was on sale, end of the season) and told her she  could wear it to school the next day.

Apropos of nothing, on the way to Gan this morning, Raphaela quietly and sadly informed me that her teachers have instructed her that (a) Unicorns are not real and that (b) when she is on the premises of Gan, she is not allowed to transform into Baby Unicorn.  My daughter seemed almost ashamed of her new shirt.

Quite frankly, I felt shocked and a little bit angry.  I have discussed with Raphaela's teachers her vivid and beautiful creativity and have made it clear that as long as it does not interfere with her functioning in school on social or academic grounds, there is no reason to be critical.  I had thought that we were on the same page.

Telling Raphaela that unicorns do not exist almost invalidates an essential part of herself.

So I took initiative when we arrived at her classroom, pointing out to one of her teachers that Raphaela had received this new and special piece of clothing from me. 

Teacher:  Wow, this Unicorn thing is really entrenched in her psyche.  You really ought to be careful that you don't encourage her in this silliness.
Me:  I think that a touch of silliness is important for everyone in life, don't you? Especially when life in Israel can get very scary and serious.
Teacher:  (no response)
Me:  I mean, without some magic and wonderment and a belief in miracles, what is there?


Marta said...

I come from another culture where imaginary friends do not exist. There are things and stories that are "make believe" (as opposed to real), but role-playing motivated by stories or movies is not encouraged to such degree. And that is about all I have to say about it. You may want to rethink the whole concept: it may be more hurtful than playful.

Jen said...

There is nothing wrong with imaginary friends during early childhood. They are common (especially for older or only children) - and I say this with someone with two degrees in and who teaches Child Development.

I am sad that her creativity was snuffed and that someone would think this is hurtful. Hang in there and help her hold onto her spirit as long as you can.

Marta said...

Yes, they are common in Anglo-Saxon cultures. I assure you that one can be creative without them.

Ariela said...

Don't fight with teachers. Nothing good ever comes from it. When RR is in Gan - she needs to follow their rules, not your rules