Try to sum up childhood in just one word. Go ahead. The best I can come up with is imagination. Imagination is what turns brooms into ponies and old boxes into spaceships. Imagination is what has made an 8-year-old girl named Stella Ehrhart an Internet celebrity since news broke that she dresses up like a different historical figure every day.
Take a moment to let that sink in. Every day Stella Ehrhart picks up a book called 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, and she chooses a woman she wants to look like for the day. After she's dressed, she goes to school like that.
I want to go give her five. Then I want to sit her parents down and pick their brains! How have they let their little girl grow without losing that magic of childhood? How have they created this insanely cool little girl who will dress up like the principal or Hermione Granger (not all of her inspirations are historic ... or even real!).
It seems like every year that kids grow older, a little piece of imagination falls away. Where the baby will imagine that a spoon is an airplane, the 2-year-old is very much aware that a spoon is a spoon, and they're always going to see it that way. And so it goes.
Losing that spark of imagination is part of growing up. It's like finding out that wishes don't come true.
My daughter is a year younger than Stella, and she's already started to bend to the curse of "fitting in." But in kindergarten, just two years ago, she did her own version of the Stella's outfits. For her it was headbands every day that made her into a different animal. Some days she was a wolf. Some a butterfly. Others she was Minnie Mouse. Two years later and she won't let herself get lost in that fun anymore.
And yet, it doesn't all have to go away. They don't have to grow that fast, do they?
Apparently not if a third grader in Omaha is still dressing up like a different character every day. Stella Ehrhart is still imagining, still creating.
How about your kids? Do you think they'd do something like this?
Image via Barnes and Noble