Imagine Dragons

February 25, 2019


Rahul and I, imagining.

When my son was 7 1/2 years old he was unable to imagine anything. He didn’t understand what people meant when they asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He didn’t play games with imaginary friends or made-up worlds. His world was extremely literal. He had known more loss that any human should have to know and had already lived 1,000 years of sorrow by the time I met him.

I remember the first time I heard him imagine something. We were driving in my Jeep, listening to music and he requested that I repeat a Sarah McLachlan Christmas song over and over. The music, he said, made him imagine. He had conjured up a scenario where he was riding a dragon through space, free and powerful. I loved hearing his fantasy and played the song over and over to let his little mind open up.

Dragons became a common theme in his imaginary worlds. After his bff Justin and he saw How to Train Your Dragon, I remember Justin and Rahul conjuring up an imaginary playmate in Toothless, the dragon in the movie. I remember feeling so grateful for Justin one afternoon when the two of them were battling the monsters of Riverdale with Toothless at their side, something I don’t think Rahul could ever have conjured up on his own.

One evening, Rahul created a “luxury experience” for me in his loft bed. He mounted a small video screen on his ceiling with duct tape, brought all his stuffed animals up to his bed and invited me to squeeze up there to watch whatever movie I wanted and while he fed me and snuggled with me. I chose Monsoon Wedding and we watched a few minutes of it before he grew bored and switched gears. He turned it off and then he turned off most of the lights. As we lay in the dark, he told me we were going to imagine together. He created a scenario where we each had dragons and we got to assign them super powers and we listened to music as we imagined them fly us into outer space. Tears rolled down the sides of my face as I lay there with him imagining our dragons and understanding that he was healing. He was expanding and evolving. The freedom he loved to imagine with his dragon was the freedom he was beginning to feel in his life.

My little boy is 18 now. He knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up and is well on his way to achieving it. This weekend the third and final installment of the How to Train Your Dragon movies came out and we were there in the same theater where we had seen the first and second ones on the first night it came out. Even though he is practically a grown man, he still loves his dragons. His favorite video games are ones where he can ride imaginary creatures and fly. And he has learned to fly for real! He is on his way to getting his pilot’s license and regularly gets to fly a real dragon (in the form of a Cessna) through the sky.

When we were on our way to the movie the other night I reminded him how dragons had taught him to imagine. And I remembered another special time we shared when he was younger. We travelled to South Dakota to dig for dinosaur bones, and after we found them we camped in the Badlands. One night the winds were blowing our tent sideways and rain was starting to fall and we had to abandon our usual post outside the entrance to our tent playing monopoly and hunker down inside the tent for the night. I was struggling to come up with something for us to do in there together when Rahul’s eyes lit up and he pulled out his Kindle. He had downloaded How to Train Your Dragon and we snuggled up in our sleeping bags for the rest of the night watching one of his favorite movies. Everything about that night felt so perfect to me. The winds were howling all around us, and all we had was a flimsy tent to protect us from the elements. But we were so content together, hundreds of miles from home, huddled around a small screen, imagining dragons.


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6 Responses to “Imagine Dragons”

  1. Diane said

    Once again so beautiful on so many levels. I’m grateful to receive these posts. Thank you Renée!!!


  2. Another beautiful reflection of love and patience. You teach through your life…you explore and you allow those around you to do the same.


  3. José Rivera said

    Hi Renee
    Thanks for sharing your dragon stories. They take me back to the beautiful times I had with my daughters in their bedroom telling stories until I fell asleep. Haha. A healthy imagination is priceless. You are an amazing mom. I look forward to doing it all over again with my grandchildren one day. Rahul will be a pilot. That’s amazing. Thanks Renee for those memories.


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