Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Magic Touch

My parents were firm believers in magic and surprises.  Not only was there the magic of Santa and the Easter Bunny, but we had a magic elf who moved locations in our house nightly, and bunny tracks in the dirt around our house.  Trips to Disneyland were not anxiously awaited, but sprung upon us seemingly randomly, our destination only revealed when the top of the Matterhorn could be seen from the freeway.  I remember the feeling of pure exhilaration when we spotted that snowy cap.  When we had Fin I was so excited to be able to recreate those experiences for him.  Thursday was my birthday and we surprised Fin by picking him up early from preschool and taking him to Disneyland (and Parker, of course).  Though he's been countless times (we've been annual pass holders since he was an infant) he never fails to be anything but utterly thrilled.  As we rode his all time favorite ride "Piwates of the Can-bean-nan" a woman behind us talked to her son the entire ride.  As soon as we "set sail" she matter of fact-ly explained each component of the ride.  "See son, it looks like the sky, but its really just a ceiling and lights.  See son, those aren't real people, they're not even people in costume, they're just machines.  See son, that isn't a real shadow, not a real picture, not a real dog..."  I could abide this if the kid was frightened, or asking about these things.  But he was calmly taking the ride in, only interrupting his mom to ask if the ride was over yet.  He couldn't have been over six.  How sad, I thought.  The fun of that ride is to be in the moment, to pretend it all IS real, you are watching REAL pirates, you just might get hit by a canon ball, that drunk pirate just might fall on top of your boat.  And at six he was at the perfect age to truly believe.  I think (or hope) that mom was coming from a place that didn't want her son to be frightened, but sometimes I think you just need to listen to your kid, and let him guide you.  I would never insist that something was real if it truly scared Fin or Parker.  But I think leaving some things a mystery engenders my kids to think for themselves, to imagine different possibilities, and most importantly, to be kids.  The longer my kids can keep that amazing feeling of pure wonder, the better.  And besides that they'll have plenty of time to be jaded know-it-alls when they're teenagers.  Right Mom?

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