Childhood can be a magical time. Indeed, childhood is famous for its magic.
Many adults feel that it’s their job to make magic for their kids. That they’re somehow enhancing a kid’s life by creating illusions for them. How sad though, for those adults, who believe that kids need them to create magic for them. Like the world is so dull as it is, it needs sleight of hand to induce awe.
Because if you think your little card tricks and santa stories can begin to compare to the actual wonders of the world – the infinite, mysterious, unfathomable beauty that radiates through out our universe – then you’re the one who’s being deceived. The everyday magic of real life is endlessly greater than anything you could put together yourself. That’s a part of what makes it all so incredible – it’s bigger than us! So who do you think you are, acting like you’re the wizard in your child’s life? Like all the magic in store for them sits behind your curtain? You’ve got nothing on nature. On life.
But let’s pretend for a minute that this supposed magic you create for your child is half as awesome as real world magic. Maybe when you pull a quarter out from behind his ear, the sense of awe he experiences fills him with joy and gives his little life meaning. And it’s just icing on the cake that you get to be steering it, right? Yes, that feels good.
But what happens when he gets older and figures out that you were holding the quarter behind your hand? Where does the magic go then? And not just the magic of that one, silly trick, and not just the magic of you, but all the magic. Where does the possibility of magic go? If you grow up thinking that magic is something that later turns out to have been an illusion, you’re left to live in a world without magic. Like a drug addict who can’t feel happiness when sober, because their body thinks that artificial high is the real goal. But real happiness, without drugs, is actually a thousand times better. Real magic, without illusions, is a thousand times better. And raising a kid to equate the two just might be robbing that child of a lifetime of genuine, authentic experiences of awe and wonder that can very accurately be described as magic.
So instead of tricks with lights and mirrors and white lies, what can we do to actually instill a sense of awe and wonder in our children that won’t let them down? The good news is that we don’t have to do much. Try stepping out of the way for a second. The magic is all there. Try following your children’s lead. They see it. They know how to rejoice in it. Rejoice in it with them. Play in the dirt. Watch the birds. Stand in the rain. Taste your food. Cry. Dance. Wonder with your children. Breathe. Look. Listen. Put down your conventions and assumptions and limitations. And then stop acting for long enough to notice what’s there, and what’s real, and what is, yes, absolutely magical.
Yes, childhood can be a magical time. So can adulthood, if we’re wise enough to see it.