He was playing back in a closet when he discovered the mirror. Involved in the task of building our own house, my husband and I had left our second son much to his own devices during his babyhood play hours and had never dangled him in front of a mirror as parents usually do. Now two years old, the discovery of the enchanting person reflected in this mirror was so exciting to my son that the garbled sounds of his reaction reached me where I was working in another section of the house. I found him in front of a full length mirror which had been placed in the back closet for storage while we were working on finishing the interior of the house.
He was so involved with the image that I moved the mirror to his room. He went in and closed the door playing for hours with his new found companion. Shortly after this his play friends evolved, one at a time, I suppose, until he had four. He had a different voice for each, and each had a different personality. I spent many an amused hour working away on the house and listening to the conversation these children carried on, all through the mouth of my babe.
Rapp was the naughty boy and he was always in trouble. In fact, whenever trouble occurred, Rapp was to blame, according to my son.
"If Rapp doesn't stop misbehaving," I said, "I am going to spank his bottom!".
A long pause greeted this statement, and then my son looked up at me solemnly and explained, "but Rapp doesn't have any bottom!"
Other children moved to the area, and the imaginary friends faded in the flush of real people; but then the Stucks appeared. These were small creatures who lived under the ground and ate devils. They were dangerous, but we didn't have to worry because my son had complete control over them, and he would see that they didn't harm us. One of our adult friends, amused at his imagination, used to try to trap my son in some inconsistency describing these creatures, but they were so vivid in the mind of my son that he never slipped in his conception.
The years piled up to six, and he was off to school. Adjustment here was tenuous, and I became quite concerned over some bully who took my son's apple each day. Fortunately, I discovered this bully was the successor to the Stucks rather than a real person before I made an issue with the teacher.
Along about that time I became concerned because money kept disappearing from around the house Hesitating a long time before forcing the issue, I somehow realized, even from my 5'6" point of view, that there was little difference in his context between imagining that Stucks would take care of you and that that dime was really yours.
"He has to live in the real world," my husband and I agreed, "even if it does erase his imagination" So the next time I missed some money, I moved into action. I took him by the hand and showed him all the places around the house where we kept money that was not his. His punishment was to take me around and show me those places so that I would know he knew. It took him a long time, and he paced the route with deep, slow sobs. No doubt he felt worse because I felt so bad, but he finally made it.
He quit stealing money and also quit imagining all the same day. At least on the surface he quit. Today he's the sturdy one. He is the boy so sure of himself that he joined the modern dance club in high school (knowing he would be the only boy in the group) because he thinks it might be fun to learn some modern dancing.
On the surface he cooperates, accepting odious duties without protest, giving the other fellow his way most of the time, allowing even his parents to win their arguments. Beneath. it all, however, he lives in his world, a rich and vivid world. It surfaces in fascinating projects like building his own kayak to launch in the stream below our house and then floating it down to the ocean.
What a wonderful world his is with layers and layers of being! Since the deepest truth lies at the core of our being, perhaps he'll center there more surely than those of us who live on top.