We have an evening routine. Each night, as I lay my son to bed, we sing a few silly songs, read a book or two, and then say our prayers. Recently, however, Wyatt has been asking to skip the chapter book and instead have me share stories of my adventures on the Dark Continent. He has become so engaged and often asks questions about the time the elephant charged us near Kruger; he asks, time after time, why I ate the mopani worm and if I would ever eat another (NO!); he asks me to replicate the roar of the lion from Addo that still resonates in my soul; and he always asks when I will take him with me to where the wild things are in Africa.
Although I have promised to take Wyatt overseas on safari, the timing has never been quite right. He will get there one day, but perhaps that day is not soon enough. As a parent, I do not want to give my child empty promises. Have I broken his heart? Does he think I will never take him with me? My self-imposed guilt got me thinking… although I cannot take Wyatt with me to Africa anytime soon, why can’t I bring Africa to him?
With my son’s dreams as our motivation, my husband and I set to work redecorating our spare bedroom. Wyatt is now surrounded by the Serengeti. An owl roosts above the door, while lizards crawl up the branch of an acacia tree. A lion paces in tall grass, while birds circle above playing chase with a monkey in a tree. The room is complete with a ceiling of glow-in-the-dark stars (including a few Southern Hemisphere constellations).
Wyatt loves his new room, and on occasion, has even asked to go to bed early so he can lay and watch the stars. As I tuck him in, he now tells me stories of the elephants he sees in the distant savannah, and the monkeys that steal his sheets as he sleeps at night. His imagination runs free… where the wild things are in Africa.
Someday I will take Wyatt with me to Africa. For the time being, he has a world of his own to discover, right here at home.
What special memories have you created for your kids? How have you fostered their dreams?