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Practical impracticality of childhood

POSTED: June 13, 2012 4:00 a.m.

“Mama, is the tooth fairy real?” was the question of the hour recently.

“Do you believe she’s real?” was my response.

“Kinda. She forgets to leave me money sometimes though...”

“I told you, she was out of cash that night, remember? And couldn’t go by the ATM machine.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Childhood is such a magical time. There’s the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, superheroes and don’t forget the big guy that wears red and eats cookies. There’s something beautiful in the ability a child has to suspend their disbelief and just believe in these things they cannot see or prove.

I don’t know when it was exactly that I outgrew those mythical elements of my childhood. There was never a big truth talk with Mama about Santa or the tooth fairy.

Just one day, I went from clapping my hands so hard they stung to make Tinkerbell live and the next I was worried about other things. More real, grown-up things.

But there’s a part of parenting that means you make these things real for your children, as long as you can.

I was on the phone with my friend Todd one day when Cole announced happily, “Mama — a ring of mushrooms! You said that’s where fairies and gnomes live!”

“That’s right, Cole!” I said. “They only come out when it’s dusk, so we’ll have to see if we can find them tonight.”

“What lies are you telling your child?” Todd asked on the other end of the phone.

“Not lies,” I said.

“Are too. You are telling him there are fairies and gnomes and such. You are lying to that kid.”

I sighed.

“No, I am not. You know what a lot of people’s problem is, Todd? They let go of that magic we had as kids. They quit believing in fairies, they quit believing in all those wonderfully creative, imaginative things we did when we were little. We grew up. And we lost the magic.”

I truly believe that. We stop believing and those magical moments of wonder, where we are amazed, surprised and have those jaw-dropping, eye-popping seconds of utter joy vanish from our lives. We start to think that only the bad things are going to happen to us, instead of thinking that there’s some positive outcome waiting if we just believe.

Children are having to grow up too fast nowadays — that’s purely just my opinion, but I think they are seeing, dealing, hearing things that are way beyond what their little minds and spirits can handle. I am choosing to try to let my child be a child as long as I can and as long as he will allow.

“Mama, when will the tooth fairy and Santa quit coming to see me?” was the next question from Cole.

“When you quit believing.”

He thought for a while about that. “I will never, not ever, stop believing. Not ever.”

So we look for fairies and gnomes at night.

We make crazy fantastic wishes on the first star we see in the evening.

And we’ll never, not ever, stop believing.

 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach. She lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family and four insane, but fairly well behaved dogs.

 

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