“Wee Wee” Then… “Ta Da!” Addy proudly exclaims with her “WOW” grin. I glance over precipitously. I mean “Ta Da” can mean a LOT of things in our house. Yesterday it meant a Crayola Picasso in our closet that was not quite as washable as the box implied.
“Whew!” I exhale, and then erupt in belly laughter. For what I witness in this moment is one of the most adorable marks of childhood magical innocence. Scene: Her doll’s stroller turned sideways, and twelve tiny horses carefully arranged on the spokes of the wheels as she sat turning the wheel merry-go-round style. When said horses spun, that garnered a reactive “Weeee” and when they fell or “flew,” the “trick” was complete, hence the “Ta Da!” I mean obviously this is what you do when tiny horses and a wheel are available. Obviously Mom.
Except this is anything but obvious to adults. But our children live in a different world than we do. A world where toys are not linear, but rather abstract tools that transcend traditional subscribed roles and utility. A world where all objects can be personified and manipulated to suit a fantasy.
I am not the Creative Mom. I am DEFINITELY not the Pinterest Mom. And though I have to fight myself (and my husband) daily not to be the “spoil you with toys” Mom, I know both my daughter’s temperament and bank account appreciate the resistance.
But I am a JOY Mom that wishes every day was a holiday or special occasion.
…If only I could keep just a little bit of that magical holiday spirit in our home every single day.
My husband sets the bar pretty high too. Once upon a time after Addy had three face paintings one random Saturday, being two, she was pretty sure that meant that every day from now on would entail “Butterflies on da face!” (Yes of course we have a small face painting kit at home…Of course.) Therefore, of course my husband starts painting freaking butterflies on her face the next day… and then has the NERVE to return to work on Monday.
“Butterflies on da face Mama?” she sweetly requests. “Agh!” Being the walking Pinterest fail that I am, I squeamish at the request. But there she is being so sweet, and asking me the way I taught her to ask me for things. Not the other way where I can barely decipher her toddler siren words. I want to be able to honor this polite request… so I try. I try to paint a butterfly like Dad did. Then she looks into the mirror in complete shock, and I am not even kidding—she cries at the horror of mess I have painted on her face. Epic fail Mom.
So how am I, Pinterest fail Mom, that craves to bring this magic to life every day for my children… to execute this?
I don’t. AND I don’t need to. She believes in magic. She LIVES in a world of superhero princesses, unicorns, rainbows, trapezing horses, dancing trucks, shaving cream wars, wall-ridden “masterpieces,” bossed around stuffed animals (seriously she makes them watch her while she sleeps—did I mention she is not only magical, but also very bossy). All I need to make my daughter’s childhood magical is to stroke and honor her world. I need to let her trucks dance to Let It Go, and join in; I need to let her go to school as the superhero princess that she is (one week straight) even if her cape is actually my old bridesmaid bathrobe. I mean, come on… You don’t mess with princess super heroes… Amiright? And if she picks up the shaving cream, would it be the end of the world to just see what happens next? Sometimes the mess IS worth it. Plus, they love to clean anyways, so bring them into that “game.” Which brings me to my next point…
Let her into your world too! Because you live in a world where you put liquid into an oven, and it magically turns into a solid food. You live in a world where cars fly like birds, and we call them planes. You live in a world where you give people paper, coins, and plastic, and then they let you keep things. You even live in a world where your car can be whooshed and whirled like a coasting dance on an amusement park ride—OK, I theoretically live in this world, it’s been awhile since my poor car has been bathed.
But isn’t it ironic that our most disdained chores are modeled into toy versions that our children actually consider play. So let them be part of your magical world by letting them finish the baking in their oven, go on a ride at the car wash, create words together on a keyboard, turn your morning coffee into a “play tea party.”
Our kids are ALREADY magical. So enter into their magical world, wherever their stage of life is at. Then bring them into yours too. And yes, what is “magical” to a toddler will not be magical to a teen. By then, I am sure they have learned that chores are… well chores. However, I still believe the key to a “magical” childhood is watching where our worlds collide and genuinely engaging at this point of commonality.
If you still need inspiration my personal favorite magical childhood memories involved: eating freshly baked warm cookies on the porch when it rained, creating song and dance talent shows, carrying around a tiny tube of toothpaste I convinced myself was special candy, finding treasured shells and rocks in our backyard ditch, making my brother play Boxcar children with me for hours, jumping in piles of crunchy leaves, running through a sprinkler, dancing and sloshing in the rain, performing actual magic shows with my little brother, building forts and traps, and dressing like a pirate (as often as I was allowed to—which was quite a bit).
Find your child’s magic, stroke it, and let it be free.