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Eating A Whale

My son is two. He suddenly loves Crayons and we’re spending a lot of time coloring these days.

Yesterday I opened a notebook and drew a cookie. “Here’s a cookie, Max,” I said. “Would you like a bite?”

He took a pretend bite out of the notebook. Over the next hour, he ate a whale, a fish in a Navy outfit, some celery, a shoe, a hat, an elephant throwing a lightning bolt, a strawberry, a kettlebell, a wedge of cheese, and many other delicacies.

It was hilarious. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so thoroughly entertained.

I watched him process it all. I watched how much he enjoyed playing and using his imagination. I could literally see his mind expanding, although he wasn’t sure what to make of the fish in the sailor suit.

I want to enjoy everything like he does. If our highs were the same quality as the highs of childhood, we wouldn’t ever need to chase the next thing.

I think it’s possible, but only when I’m not consumed by the past or worried about tomorrow.

Here’s to today. Here’s to curiosity and imagination.

Here’s to better.


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  • Armen Shirvanian April 26, 2010, 1:29 am

    Hi Josh.

    There sure is some big fun in coloring with crayons. There are so many colors and you can make things look cool within minutes. I am sure your son had a great time there, and might even remember it as an event.

    That’s pretty cool about eating the pictured items. It sounded funny just to read about, so it must have been enjoyable.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:17 am

      It was really fun, and he seemed to think everything tasted just perfect.

  • We Fly Spitfires April 26, 2010, 4:57 am

    The power of imagination and play is so important to the development of children and is often underrated or overlooked. I say this as a husband to a nursery nurse who had to study all of this stuff at college. It blew my mind just how vital academies were saying this sort of stuff was!

    Great story too, it really makes me look forward to having a family one day 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:16 am

      Vital, yep. And I’m sure that we’ll never fully understand just how vital it is. I don’t think the tools exist to measure it.

  • Paul April 26, 2010, 5:17 am

    we all have to enjoy every day. That’s why it’s called the present. Have a great week

  • Eric | Eden Journal April 26, 2010, 5:46 am

    Josh, the wonderful thing about this post is that it can only be completely understood by parents. I never would have “gotten” the significance of this post before becoming a dad.

    I absolutely love to see the imaganation and creativity in my 4 year old daughter. It’s amazing to watch her imagination unfold to create stories or draw pictures.

    Her specialty is drawing smiley faces. She’s been doing it since the time she first learned to draw something resembling a circle. Since the very first “basic” smiley, and over the course of many months, she has added arms, legs, hair, headbands, ears. It’s amazing to watch this process of creation unfold ever so slowly as she learns of more things that could be added to the drawings.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:15 am

      I found a copy of the first story I ever wrote not too long ago. My mom saved all of my first grade papers. Absolutely hilarious and priceless. What’s your daughter’s name?

  • Matt April 26, 2010, 5:51 am

    I have an 8-day old son, my first child. I cannot wait until he’s able to interact like this; I imagine that the highs I’ll get, though different, will be comparable to his.

    Any ideas for fun stuff like this when they’re still very young and unable to talk?

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:13 am

      Congratulations! As to fun things to do, it seems like I was entertained for 3 months just watching him sleep:)

    • Pauline April 26, 2010, 11:57 am

      You can read to your tiny son. He’ll learn to enjoy the sound of your voice, no matter what you are reading! When our new grandchild was still in the hospital, her parents were reading baby books to her.

  • Heather April 26, 2010, 6:05 am

    CRAYONS ROCK! It’s cool that Max “ate” a kettlebell, rather than the other way round. GO, MAX!

  • Lindsey April 26, 2010, 6:41 am

    This is the truth: if we could simply enjoy life as they do, we wouldn’t have to be chasing the next thing. Reading your stories takes me one step closer to being able to do that. So, thank you.

  • Joy Tanksley April 26, 2010, 7:41 am

    Beauteous maximus. Ah, the childhood imagination. I think it’s within all of us – we just have to uncover a lot of crap to find it sometimes.

    My favorite game to play with my niece (she’s almost 8 now) is to have her lay on top of me. I pretend like I’m a piece of bread and she’s the filling of a sandwich. I call out a type of sandwich and she acts like the filling. It’s quite abstract but she totally gets it. She contorts her face and body in a way that represents peanut butter with banana, or reuben, or turkey with swiss. It’s hilarious. Kids get the essence of things.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:11 am

      Joy, there’s not enough Latin on this blog. Thanks for classing things up.

  • John April 26, 2010, 7:52 am

    I’m with you Josh…I can be thoroughly entertained for hours just watching my two kids use their imagination. It energizes me, and my creativity as well. I do everything I can to encourage that spirit with them so that it doesn’t fade over time (as it tends to). I suppose I should put as much energy into recapturing that in myself as well. I never feel more alive than when I am playing with my kids.

    Thanks for the reminder Josh!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:11 am

      I think creativity always breeds creativity. There’s no reason to exclude kids, you’re absolutely right. And even better than recapturing that spirit would be never losing it in the first place.

  • Susan Giurleo April 26, 2010, 8:25 am

    Kids rock! It’s amazing what their minds can do….gives insight into the power we all have inside if we just give our children (and ourselves) enough quiet time to play, create, interact and explore. We don’t do this enough.

    @Matt…in a few weeks start to give your baby a mirror to look in while he does tummy time. Watch those eyes light up! Talk to him as if he understands you (not in baby talk). This is how language develops. I’d tell my son about what I was cooking for dinner, talk him through a bath, read picture books, etc. Now he is a major talker, and wonderful reader.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:10 am

      There’s a point for many adults where exploration just…stops. Tragic!

  • Todd April 26, 2010, 8:27 am

    I love playing with our kids. Their games are always so imaginative. Isn’t this kind of what we do as writers. Granted, it may not be a fun as coloring with my girls, I get to paint pictures as well.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 26, 2010, 9:09 am

      The best writing is always play for the writer.

  • Shane Arthur April 26, 2010, 9:12 am

    My son lifts up my shirt, sees my belly button and laughs out loud. Seriously, when’s the last time you looked at your bellybutton and just laughed? The oddest, and littlest, things in life are funny to kids. They see everything like Oragami waiting for them to fold.

  • ami April 26, 2010, 9:19 am

    Love this. I love overhearing my kids in the middle of role-playing, storytelling and creating. I love the way conversations with my 6 year old go in directions that I would never have anticipated yet make complete sense from his perspective. I love watching my daughter teaching a class of captive bears, dolls and other students basic letters and reading. And I love the direction my writing takes – when I pretend to be one of my kids. 🙂 So benefits flow both directions!

  • Larissa April 26, 2010, 10:26 am

    Imaginary play is so important! My youngest son, Paul, has a whole town called Teddyville. Each of his stuffed animals play a different part in the town, including government officials. I am amazed at how he thinks through how to handle a conflict in Teddyville to bring about a resolution. Imaginary play can help kids learn so many things. . . and, yeah, it’s fun for us adults too. 🙂

  • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire April 26, 2010, 10:38 am

    It’s great that you can spend quality time with your son. Hopefully some day your business will allow you to spend even more time with him, although I’m sure you love your job.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • Mike Drysdale April 26, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Now, why is it that so many people feel that doing these kinds of things (eating food drawn in a notebook) is so childish? It is a way of using your imagination (like so many have commented here). How can we start using our imaginations more, enjoying the things that we encounter everyday, or using those things around us in new and different ways? I too enjoy seeing how my kids use everyday household items in funky ways in their play. I love to see my kids create games (they take after me in that realm; designing games is super fun and a great use of my imaginative powers).

    Keep up the good work Josh. I think you’ve always got something great to share.


  • Boris Bachmann April 26, 2010, 6:34 pm

    Here, here! …and now, now!

  • Jenn April 26, 2010, 9:51 pm

    So cute! I remember when my kids used to do that. My oldest just celebrated his 10th birthday last week and now when I try to play with him like that I get “a look”. My 7 year old and I still play “baby bat”. I’m the mommy bat and he is the baby who like to sleep in his mother’s wings. Needless to say I love it and cherish every second.

  • Norman April 27, 2010, 10:35 am

    “If our highs were the same quality as the highs of childhood, we wouldn’t ever need to chase the next thing.”

    I love this. It gets tossed around a lot, but rarely with as much thought and concern as in this post.

    Still, “The next thing” seems to be so ingrained. We start reaching for the shiny stuff on the shelf at about that age. Crying to mom or dad when we don’t get it.

    So maybe the next thing isn’t necessarily bad, just in need of healthy context: This object will not make me happy, but it will add to my happiness. I know that I could (that I have) learn to be happy with very little…

    Is the next thing a thing, an attitude, a lesson, an experience, a person…?

    You thought expanding wizard, Josh.