Thomas Harris once wrote that fear is “the price of imagination.” As both a dreamer and a worrier, I can attest that this is true. It seems a special kind of irony that I live in Florida where everything from alligators to sinkholes is waiting to swallow me whole. I’m terrified of snakes and not so fond of heights. The worst case scenarios that I can imagine for a cruise ship would shake you to the very core. But, even if you’re not (crazy) like me, I think you can still relate.

We’ve all had those awful “What if?” thoughts…… What if I crashed my car right now? What if my husband or child passed away? What if I forgot to unplug the flat iron and the whole house burns down (and it’s my fault)? Maybe fear is the price of being an adult and knowing all the bad things that could possibly happen.

Since I’ve become a mother, I’ve learned that one of the beautiful things about the innocence of childhood is that children can indulge their imaginations without paying the price of fear. I have a precocious toddler, and I love seeing the world through her eyes. At 2.5 years old, she lives in a world of endless possibilities – all of them magnificent and joyful.

Here’s her fresh take on the world:

Someone cool is always coming to visit. When my daughter first started talking, she was very interested in visitors. If I told her we were going to see Pap Pap soon, she would say “Pap Pap house or Pap Pap door?” That was her way asking if we were going to Pap Pap’s house or if he was coming to our front door.

And then she started showing me how she believed that anything could happen at any time. She would be lost in thought or play and look at me and say, “Bear door? Monkey door? Mickey door?” It’s actually harder than you would think to explain why an elephant is not (and never will be) coming through your front door. But isn’t it fun to imagine?

Everyone and everything is a friend. She greets squirrels with a cheerful “hi,” waves at trees, blows kisses at the clouds, and makes sure to say “bye” to the church.

Adventure is just around the corner. Whenever we see an airplane in the sky, she tells me that Curious George is piloting it. Because, why not? She saw his flight training in the third movie.

Trash is treasure. Like most kids, she can have more fun playing with the box than the actual toy. In her hands, an empty roll of wrapping paper is a stick pony, a bridge for dolls to cross, a walking cane, a sword, a baseball bat, and a way to touch the ceiling when standing tippy toe on the bed (she’s pretty tall).


The realist in me knows that what my daughter is really experiencing is imagination before fear. One day she will know enough to imagine monsters under her bed, or worse. But I can’t dwell on that. I’ve got to go — there’s a giraffe at the door.

Leah Baacke

Leah is a mom, librarian, and blogger living and writing in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. Visit her blog, The Open Book Mama, for her hilarious musings on motherhood, reading recommendations for you and your kids, and more!