There is something so magical about being a child.

The world is new, everything is an adventure, there are unlimited things to explore, and your imagination is free to create whatever possibilities it chooses.

Then you become an adult. Hopefully, you still have some of that magic, but more often than not, you will become cynical, jaded, or at least less imaginative and creative. Your spirit seems broken and you realize the world is exactly as it seems – there are no unicorns hiding in the woods behind your house, no Evil Queen threatening to ruin your kingdom, no werewolves lurking in the creek, and certainly no Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, or Easter Bunny.

Instead, there are taxes, bills, jobs, appointments, disappointments, and responsibility. I personally believe this is why adults are allowed to drink alcohol, but that is neither a necessary nor pertinent point in this article.

I feel as if sometimes adults try to make their children grow up too quickly. While I am not the one who will tell somebody how they should parent – because, quite frankly, that’s none of my damn business so long as your child isn’t in danger – I do feel strongly that we need to nurture our children’s imaginations, creativity, and sense of wonder.

 

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I struggle between wanting to prepare my children for the real world – being a realist – and letting them believe the world is a fairy tale and a place to explore. It crushes me to think about how heart-broken my children will be when they realize so much of what they grew up to believe to be true is a lie, a fabrication, most of which was perpetuated by me.

My son is currently outside and I am watching him through the window, listening to him play by himself. He is pointing in different directions, while still in his pajamas and wearing rain boots, and explaining to whichever imaginary creature is listening to him where different monsters live. Because he decided that he is a hero today – one who has a fort that he needs to protect. He has battened down the playhouse, shielding entrances with his pogo stick, baseball bats, and light sabers. There are Nerf guns and bullets strewn all over the yard from when he and his sister were shooting these pretend monsters with their invisible army.

He is experiencing magic right now. All I can think about it how all of those toys need to be picked up so I can cut the grass while the weather is still nice.

When does this change occur? When do we, as children, lose our innocence? Is there one defining moment, or is it a slow progression of events that gradually nudge us towards the experienced, realist, cynical side?

I can remember being a care-free little girl. If I had to describe my childhood or illustrate it in one picture, that picture would surely be on some Hallmark card or calendar. My childhood was filled with fireflies, princess dresses, dandelions, running barefoot, playing sports, catching frogs, and swimming in creeks. It was pure magic. I lived in a fairy tale.

The older I grew, though, I realized how limited my perspective was. I viewed the world through the lens of rose-colored glasses. It was hard for me to begin to learn about the evil in the world, that fairy tales and celebratory figures like Santa weren’t real, and it was especially devastating to realize that my parents were not, in fact, a perfectly coupled hero and heroine with capes.

I can recall certain instances where I realized the hardness and unfairness of life. I cannot say for certain if it was any one single or all of these events combined that led to my perspective and outlook on life becoming less magical. I don’t know when that happened.

I do know one thing for certain.

I will let my children relish this magic. I will shield them from the danger and harm, perpetuate their make-believe ideas, and allow them to grow up thinking they have every single chance to actually become a king, a unicorn, a fairy, or even a werewolf. While they are little, I will not break their spirits with the harsh truths of the world.

I want them to grow up and transition into adulthood with any and every ounce of magic, imagination, and creativity that they can hold on to. Our world, especially in the state it currently is, needs some of that magic, that hope, that imagination.

I also know that in addition to encouraging their imaginations and wonder, I will share in that magic. I will be a fundamental figure in their fairytale, playing whatever part I need to on any given occasion. Just the other day I was a Waffle Lady. I’m still not sure how Waffle Lady was incorporated into their play, but Waffle Lady I was.

Today I have also been a part of the fort guard, protecting my son and daughter’s playhouse from monsters (which, really, was a huge mosquito, in addition to werewolves, mean gnomes, and vampires). I know that adult life, parent life, wife life can be hard. Sometimes you feel hopeless, defeated, and disheartened. So in between the tragedies and unfair events – globally and inside my own house – I will let my children charge through their childhood on whatever magical creature or quest they choose.

Kids are only little once. In order for them to be successful and navigate this world, they will be better prepared with a tool belt filled with imagination and creativity. So many of these aspects of childhood can serve them as adults. While they’re still able to, I’ll let them run wild, be ruled by their spirits, and explore with their imagination. If you find yourself especially defeated, run barefoot outside while capturing evil trolls. It might just lift your spirits and bring back a little of that child within you.

Help them keep that magic.