A Theory on Kids, Imagination And The Stick

Imagine a day when kids in the neighborhood woke up with no electronics.

I know that’s crazy talk. Imagine is the key operative word here.

There’s no TV, Netflix, Hulu. Hell there’s no Wifi!

No smartphones or computers.

No Xbox, Playstation, Ipod or Kindle.

Which means no video games, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Facebook or other social media platform I’ve suddenly become too old to know about.

Everything is gone.

As the kids aimlessly wander around their house for any sign of playtime familiarity they do what comes natural. They try to text their friends.

Ha I said no phones!

The whole world is spinning out of control in the minds of the kids. Their hands tremble and shake. There’s nothing to type with. Nothing to control!

Is this the apocalypse?

Slowly the kids walk to do the door. With nervous anticipation they open it. Warm sunlight pierces through. A blinding light mystifies the kids as they recoil like a vampire terrified of the unknown and the end of what they know.

They adjust and look out into the unfamiliar, uncharted, uncivilized… neighborhood.

And they see the other kids of the neighborhood at their doorsteps looking out, bewildered. Scared. Hopeless.

Slowly the kids take that first cautious step down into their front yards. One kid’s front yard calls to them like a siren from another time. Probably because it’s the biggest and best kept. A collective gathering of the minds has come to order. The kids all look at each other, some of them realizing for the first time that they were actually neighbors. There’s nothing to play with. Nothing to do. All they have is each other, and maybe….




a couple of sticks on the ground.

And people say it can’t be Christmas everyday. 

What would they do? How would they react? Would they look at the stick as a tool? A toy? Nothing it all?

What catastrophic, cosmic implosion has crept into to ethos of these child’s lives to deprive them of their technological joy?

That answer of course is generational. I don’t even know if kids today would go out into the neighborhood. Do you ever see them anymore?

But if my generation of Childhood buddies had a couple of sticks, a sunny day and a patch of green grass…




We were knights in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress who was often times the one girl in the neighborhood we all had a crush on.

We were pirates on the high seas in search of buried treasure.

We were defending the fort from evil intruders trying to take our allowances.

With a little MacGyvering and some household objects sticks became slingshots, catapults and flags to capture. They would designate finish lines, jails and safety zones. And if those sticks came with a pile of leaves or some nearby woods? Only three things resulted in game over.

  1. The streetlights came on
  2. The chorus of Moms began to scream for us
  3. Somebody got hurt


Do kids today have that kind of imagination if put to the test? Do kids today even want that kind of imagination? It’s hard to argue with a kid who controls video game characters and objects so lifelike you’d swear they were watching television.

Kid: You mean I just have to pretend? And I have to go outside? And get all sweaty and dirty? What if I get a splinter?

Me: Wuss.

Sure, our parents probably said the same thing about us. It’s probably just a product of generational cycles as our society develops, expands and continues to speed up.

But our society continues to develop through imagination.

Problems are solved through need, innovation and discovery. Our operative. It’s a mental skill set that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. What happens if those skills deteriorate through generational convenience?

Am I suggesting society starts with children playing with sticks? Generally I’d say no. And who knows where kids today will take our society when we’re long and gone. Maybe the simple applications of imagination have become extinct and we’re just that more advanced.

But history may lend some credence to my stick theory. Way before the Internet our ancient ancestors had to survive and advance to get to where we are now. As a result we’re not extinct. And they were really creative with just a couple of sticks.




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