This past weekend we were at a breaking point.
I knew it was coming.
The week previous had been all about letter writing to faeries, obsessive and breathless.
First Easter Faerie, then Breakfast Faerie.
(Yes, there is a Breakfast Faerie who apparently helps wayward mothers provide yummier morning foods for daughters who do not prefer anything other than toast and fruit. Why won't I allow my daughter to eat toast and fruit for breakfast? Because I am ridic and a control freak, I'm pretty sure. At least that's what the breakfast faerie will eventually write to my kid. When I get that far.)
Next an incredible amount of fussing went into writing letters to, and deciding what to leave out for the Easter Bunny and his co-bunny human guy. (Did you see Hop last year? Uh huh.)
But late in the evening on the night before Easter, my child, my beautiful firstborn, was in tears of epic proportions, sobbing like she'd lost her best friend.
"I can't believe anymore. I want to believe, but I can't. I have lost my belief in magic, mommy, it's all gone."
And more heart-wrenching sobs came, along with inconsolable, gut-churning weeping.
Of course I thought, "Self, you brought this upon yourself. Perpetuating those stories. You did this."
But honestly, as I sat there, as I felt my heart break for her, the other part of me that doesn't have any feelings sat within me, talking me through this. (Days like this, I'm grateful for my dysfunctions.)
"Wow," I thought. "She's taking that step."
Like many modern parents, I momentarily agonised over whether or
not I should perpetuate the stories of Father Christmas, of tooth
faeries and of an Easter Bunny. I swear I did for at least a half hour.
Ultimately I decided that I had no issues with telling my young
children such fantasies existed, though I truly resented perpetuating a
male Santa if only because generally women
shop, wrap, obsess and lose sleep over gifts to create the magic. You know, in addition to the rest of what makes the holiday awesome, like foods, clean houses, decorations.
It had been coming for a long time -- kindergarten year to be precise. (She's now 9.) Something about sharing a culture with so many people with such diverse beliefs makes it pretty difficult to protect children from those who's parents do not want to perpetuate the "lies" of tradition.
For my child, one particular kid was (and is) especially ruthless. She insists regularly that each of these fantasies is bunk, and cites the fact that she picks out her own very expensive Christmas presents at ToysRUs as an emphatic proof positive Santa is not real.
Sometimes I wish parents would teach their children a bit less hardness, a bit more discretion and respect.
(Whatever. My children know that a penis going into a vagina makes a baby. I think I'll encourage her to educate specific friends -- those who've "educated" her. I happen to know the girl's father is extremely squeamish about this topic. He'll get his.) (Kidding.) (But not about the penis/vagina thing.) (Best method of birth control is knowledge.) (You know, in my humble opinion) (I know, wrong post.)
But I digress.
I have no problem encouraging my young children the magic of believing at their youngest, most gullible age. It does not weigh heavily upon my conscience simply because I want my children to believe in magic, and its existence in our world. On really bad days it is the anchor that pulls me through to the next page in my story.
When my child was calm enough to listen, I whispered some of the most valuable information about magic I know.
She looked at me with great doubt, as though worried I would perpetuate the myth further.
I said, "Nine is a good age to come into the understanding that Santa and the Easter Bunny are legends, stories, fun fantasies for small children. It is okay to feel sad to be leaving that age where you can believe in these characters.
"But I do believe in magic and have since I was a child. Magic happens every time we decide to do something right, to make the better choice. When you do this, you create magic that swirls in the air above all of us. Magic is something we make with our actions, our kindness, and even our authentic righteous behaviours."
By the time I put that child back into her bed, my heart was full of the magic of her growing up.
And I sent her to bed with one piece of advice: "Always find opportunities to make magic."
My husband and I stayed up till 2 am, preparing our (very messy) house for Easter morning, creating confections for a Passover meal we would attend Easter night and of course playing EB (good work, Alec!). It was my fourth late night of the week, what with the impulse buy of some 10 lbs of Seville oranges I'd purchased the week before that demanded processing.
My 5 year old awoke before dawn on Easter morn insisting he be granted access to the hunting grounds below. Of course he woke the girls with his howls of protests when I sent him back to bed. The girls quickly joined the chorus and demanded we all repair to the egg zone but I held fast (because despite valiant efforts to the contrary, I was unable to open one eye). I begged my oldest for 20 more minutes of sleep, and suggested she read him a book (or six) to buy me time.
And she did. A Richard Scary tome I threw at his head. For a long time.
When I finally dragged my ass out of bed one glorious hour later, my beautiful firstborn child sidled up quietly beside me. And she whispered:
"Mom. I made magic."
Update: My friend Tracie has written a terrific post that really hits home. Here's why it is so very important to teach children the appropriate (scientific) words for all parts of their body. Check out her post, Say It with Me .... Vagina and join the conversation.