The Magic of Childhood

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I recently told a coworker about some fire ant bites my daughter M had suffered over the weekend. We’d been exploring the creek behind a friend’s house when M stepped in a nest. Fire ant bites hurt. While M is tough, her tears had been quite the sight and her screams piercing.

My coworker smiled at me and pulled a small vial out of her purse. “This,” she told me, “is how we treat ant bites. Pixie dust.”

In her hand, she held a container of glitter.

“It’s body glitter. It really works on ant bites for 6-year-olds.”

Now that is some brilliant parenting.

That evening, I told my 9-year-old twin daughters about this conversation. They smiled at the gullible nature of children so much younger than they.

“We wouldn’t fall for that,” J told me. “We’re too grown-up to believe in fairies.”

“Yes,” M agreed, but quickly added, “But of course we believe in magic. Like the magic that powers Santa’s sleigh.”

“Of course,” J allowed. “And the magic that makes the Easter Bunny pink.”

“The Easter Bunny is not pink. The Easter bunny is grey and white. The magic part is how big he is and he gets everyone eggs for their egg hunts.”

“Pink.”

“Grey and white.”

“Pink. With a fluffy tail.”

“Ugh. But magical.”

“Yes. Magical.”

My girls, on the verge of tweendom, still have their magic. Their stuffed toys are alive to them, filled with personality, each unique. Santa is real, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I know how soon this will be gone, my growing girls learning to be resigned to the humdrum of life.

May they always have some magic, like the magic they’ve brought to my life.

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Paired Imagination

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I’m not a huge fan of driving—I put off learning how to drive until I was 25—but I do love overhearing my daughters’ conversations in the car.

Yesterday was Movie Day at the summer day camp our 6-year-olds are attending. The kids were invited to bring pillows and blankets, and the older kids were put to work first thing in the morning dividing a massive quantity of popcorn into single servings.

FueyFuzzy
The girls asked me to photograph their toys to acknowledge their first day of school, and added hair accessories before posing them, to mark the occasion. The blue Care Bear is M’s Fuey, the other J’s Fuzzy.

J and M decided to take their bedtime friends with them for Movie Day.

Before getting into the car, J had a serious discussion with her lovey, Fuzzy, about what she could expect at school.

“This is the first time she’s gone out to the world,” J explained to me, dead serious.

“Fuey’s been to school with me before, but this is a new school for her,” M added.

In the car, there was a discussion of how to ensure the toys’ safety. The girls finally settled on using the tightening straps on their carseats as seat belts for their toys.

“Fuzzy needs a baby seat,” J explained. “She’s only zero. She’ll be only zero forever.”

“Fuey only gets to 7 years old,” M chimed in. “Right now she’s 6, no 5. When she has a birthday, she’ll be 6. On her next birthday, she’ll be 7. But the next birthday, she’ll still be 7, because of magic.”

“Yes,” J agreed, “Magic keeps Fuzzy zero. It’s okay, little Fuzzy. You’ll like my friends.”

I know that most kids build extensive and vivid imaginary worlds, but I love that I get to hear my girls doing it. In addition to their toys having very real personalities, both girls have distinct imaginary friends who, on occasion, they lend to Sissy for the purpose of populating a game. My favourite of their imaginary friends is Dustin, M’s friend, named after a coworker of mine. He has a habit of refusing to answer to “Dustin,” instead choosing alternate names to go by on a nearly daily basis.

What do your kids’ imaginary worlds look like? What do you overhear them discussing?

Sadia, her twin daughters J and M, and her grandchildren, Fuey and Fuzzy, live in El Paso, Texas.

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Awaken Imagination

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It’s still dark when I step into my daughters’ room. I find myself tiptoeing, even though I’m there to wake them for the day and noise is my friend. Much as I need to wake the kids, I dread the tears that will accompany their rise.

Everyone in our family has to wake up painfully early for work and school. We’re up at 5:30 Mountain Time in El Paso, allowing me to start telecommuting to my job at 8:00 Central Time. (I get easily confused about what time it is.) M has been struggling particularly hard this week. Her environmental allergies have left her completely exhausted, poor thing.

I’ve used all the tried and true techniques to get her to wake up happy. I’ve climbed under the covers with her and wiggled her toes. I’ve played her favourite music at her bedside. I’ve put her socks on her while she sleeps to grant her a few extra moments of sleep. I’ve asked her about her dreams. None of this have kept her from tired, self-pitying tears and anger at having to go through the morning routine.

Mommy's helper in waking the kids with a smile on their faces!

This morning, something finally worked. I asked M to tell me not about her own dreams, but about her stuffed toy du jour’s. She has a Care Bear, the music one (Heartsong), that she has named Fuey. (The naming of toys is a discussion for another day.) She was instantly awake.

“Fuey had a dream about going to my school, which is my work. She is going to my work to participate in my choir club. She’s going to be the audience. She dreamed of wearing her Easter dress and sitting with Caitlin who is her favourite my friend because Caitlin loves her. Mommy, I’m awake! I’m ready for the big light! I need to brush Fuey’s teeth. I will squeeze the toothpaste just to let air out which is imaginary toothpaste and brush her teeth!”

That’s the little chatterbox I had been hoping to see! She finished breakfast on time, managed to navigate a disagreement over shoes without tears, and got on the bus cheerful and ready for her Friday. I’m just hoping she’ll remember to turn her homework in.

What helps you get your kids out of bed in the morning or, for those you with early birds, keeps them in?

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