"Your kid is going to be really disappointed", a friend told me the day before my younger one was being taken to the zoo with the rest of his class. "When Druv went last year, the animals were all asleep, and all he saw were snakes. He is still upset that he didn’t get to see the lions and tigers.”
“Not much anyone can do about it, is there”, I shrugged. But I did make sure I did not contribute to building up the excitement leading upto the visit.
“Did you have fun at the zoo?”, I asked when I picked him up in the evening. Emboldened by his excited nod, I gathered the courage to ask, “Did you see any animals at the zoo?”
“There were many snakes”, he said excitedly. “Many, many snakes!” Clearly he had not inherited his father’s fear of the reptiles.
“And did you see any other animals?”, I asked.
“Yes, there was a lion, and there was an elephant”, he said. “The lion and the elephant were playing hide and seek with the giraffe. The lion was hiding behind a stone, and the elephant was inside a box.”
“And did you see the giraffe?”
“The giraffe was finding the lion and the elephant behind the tree. And it was a very big tree. The giraffe was hidden by the tree. And I saw a hippopotamus. It was hiding in the water.”
Two weeks later, my son still talks excitedly about the visit to the zoo, and of all the animals he did not get to see, but which he knew were there. All he actually saw were the same snakes that the other children saw, but his imagination brought an entire Universe alive. What a wonderful thing is Imagination.