Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Magic in Childhood

This is the day of G's birthday party, even though his real birthday is tomorrow, and I have been thinking about ways to make his birthday, his childhood magical and creative. Is it even something we can do, or is it the nature of childhood to see magic everywhere? Maybe it's an innate quality in a child that we can encourage, as parents.

It was a post over at Writing on the Water that got me thinking about my own childhood, and the magic in that. I don't remember planned activities to encourage and stimulate, except maybe baking with my mother. I don't recall that organized things were generally all that magical. Maybe my mother set us out on games and activities, but I only remember what my sister and I did with what we had at hand and our imaginations.

I had summers at my grandfather's farm, where we searched the lawn for Indian Paintbrushes, rolled down the hill, held buttercups up to our chins, played house in the big bush by the road, ran from snap dragons and went hunting in the woods for fairy circles.

And then I had my regular life in Manhattan, in a sprawling, falling down apartment, filled with house plants, cats and room to run up and down the halls. We spent our times making up games, there. We made dolls out of plasticene, dollhouses out of wardrobes, spaceships out of bunkbeds, radioshows out of tape recorders and circuses out of cats and shopping carts (poor cats.) If we took off our shoes, we were Indian Maidens creeping through the forest, or when we took a bath, we were mermaids. That was where I learned how to make something out of nothing, where I learned that if you try and keep trying, you can do anything. It was where I learned that I had the ability, maybe even the right to create. It was also where I learned the power of wishing, and focusing, and singing. And of course, the power of imagination.

Maybe this goes to show that while having the freedom to roam in the great wilderness is a wonderful thing, magic can happen anywhere.

I don't think I've given up on magic, either. I think I still find it today. Maybe that's why I take pictures of strange fungi, or write Science Fiction novels, or read Harry Potter and wait for my belated invitation to Hogwarts. Where have you found magic in your life? In your childhood? In your adulthood?


Patty Kennelly said...

Yummy. Not the fungi, but the magic. (Although that picture is AWESOME!) I think the gift of imagination is just about the best thing you could ever give.

Happy Birthday little man!

Anonymous said...

Magic can happen anywhere--be it in the country or in the city or in between. I think we overplan kids these days. My father planned nothing for me. He just let me out the front door and would look out once in a while to make sure I was still alive. Maybe not the best parenting method, but great for the imagination.

Today my son got to wander in some woods, and I could tell by his ooos and aahs and wide eyes, he found magic crawling under branches and climbing up rocks and seeing the lake at his feet. Amazing.

But he finds magic in our apartment under the table, peering over the patio rail, or making a dinosaur world on our sidewalk.

Happy birthday to your little guy.

D'Arcy said...

Magic comes with the eyes in which we see it. The same person, when not taken for granted, can be magical. The same sunset outside your home, when seen with the right eyes, is magical. There is magic in the familiar....

And to balance that, I find magic in the new. The new sunset, the new language, the new country, the new, the new, the new.

So magic for me lies in the old and the new.

Now, take a familiar person and put us both in a new land, and to me, that's the perfect combination.

Mom101 said...

What a lovely post! We're raising the kids in Brooklyn but weekends at the grandparents in the rolling countryside (sort of) sound very similar. We feel so lucky that they get the best of both worlds.

And a very happy bday to your little guy, even if he did get the birthday we wanted. Instead we got Bush's bday. Rats.

Lynnie said...

You know, there's a lot of things I do as a parent I'm NOT so proud of (I let the kids eat a whole bag of M&Ms recently, forget to read to them for whole days when it's nice outside, put off buying new shoes...) but one thing I can say is that we give them PLENTY of space to see all the magic all around. They get to spend hours a day just kicking around the yard, filling bottles with grass, figuring out how to hang off the fence with one arm, turning over stones, you know, all the stuff kids do when they're on their own. It's so LOVELY to watch.

I also like to see the magic of sisterhood. My girls are very close, just as I am with my sister. I can see the trust and delight they have in each other. It stops me in my tracks every time.

Rowena said...

I feel very wrapped in magic by all of you. Just lovely each one of you, in blog, in comment, and I'm sure in person.

Magic is right.

I think it's a lot like love and creativity and beauty.

m. heart said...

when i'm in the country, i pine for the magic of the city, and when in the city, i pine for the magic of the country. there can be so much of it in either place.

as for that fungus, wow, i have no idea what it could be but it looks very velvety-soft!

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