A few days ago I read this article on Huffington Post: I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical.
The title alone resonated with me, and as I read what Bunmi Laditon had to say, I found myself nodding along with each sentence. These two sentences in particular leaped off the screen at me.
We do not need to make our children’s childhood magical. Childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn’t perfect.
Childhood is inherently magical…….
It is, isn’t it? Just think about how many things children see for the first time, pretty much every day, and the wonder in their eyes when they do. I remember the first time I blew bubbles for Kieran, or the day he did his “first” painting, and those were such amazing moments.
I have boards full of activities and crafts pinned for reference, and there was a time when I really felt like I wasn’t doing enough with him based simply on the fact that all those activities actually existed out there. I’d make lists of things for us to do, not get around to the majority of them, and then feel like I was a crap mum. When honestly he was happy just doing his own thing. Thank goodness I found my favourite parenting blog by Janet Lansbury, and read a few articles that helped me to realise that I am not supposed to be his entertainment committee. I took a step back then, and all for the better.
Yes, we still do activities together (just check out my IG feed!), but not every single day. Most of the time when I play with him, I’m following his lead and playing what he wants to play (which is usually either going grocery shopping, or having a picnic. Or cars. Lots of cars). I’ve also learnt that if left to his own devices, he may feel bored for a bit, but he always finds something to do.
Yes, I love planning his birthday parties, but they are always on a tight budget, and let’s be honest, most of that stuff is for me. I have DIY in my blood, and his parties are one way I can enjoy myself by creating the decor. and baking the cookies. When we ask him what he wants for his party his answer is always ” Balloons and cake. And bubbles”. That’s all he needs.
When I think about my own childhood the things I remember most are playing with my friends in a wooded section of the neighbourhood, walking home from school with my friends, and yes birthday parties. But not what I got, or what activities we did, just a memory of having a fun time with friends and family, and eating homemade ice-cream that we all helped to make by churning the ice-cream maker. When I think about Christmases past, I couldn’t begin to tell you what the gifts were, (except that year we got those big dolls that walked. Wow!), I mostly remember that I loved going to my aunt’s house and playing with all my cousins all day long.
And I hope that years from now when Kieran thinks about his magical childhood, that he remembers walking home from school and throwing rocks in the river, or blowing on dandelion seeds, or the day that he learned to ride his bike.
As Bunmi pointed out:
Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical.
Since I read the article I have been ever more mindful of this. I honestly feel like I already do a pretty good job, but now I am intentionally making a note of those moments. More for me than for him, so that on those days when it seems like life is tough, I can look though my Instagram feed and scrapbooks and see evidence of the childhood magic. Which is magical for me too, since I am seeing the world through his eyes in those moments.
So I’ll end with one last quote from the article (but you need to read it yourself!)
When we make life a grand production, our children become audience members and their appetite for entertainment grows. Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane?
Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped — or that magic is something you discover on your own?