Do You Encourage Your Kids to Believe in Magic?

Do you encourage your kids to believe in magic?

It was the winter of 1989, and the communism was on the verge of collapse. Public protests erupted in many cities around my country. The army got involved, and there were a couple of days of not going outside. For us, kids, this was the worst thing that could happen, mainly because a thick layer of fresh snow was inviting us to play in the yard. From our house, we could hear people shouting and machine guns piercing the macabre silence of the days and nights.
My grandmother, who survived WWII as a refugee, knew the drill. We covered our windows with blankets and sheets, so it looked like nobody was living there. We were to stay inside, and only listen very quietly to the underground radio station called “Free Europe” on my grandfather’s portable radio. We couldn’t open the door or even peek outside through the windows. We had a full pantry that was supposed to take us through the winter, regardless of the situation. At least we were not going to starve – that’s what I heard the adults talking about.
I was 8. I vividly remember hiding under my bed, pretending I was in a dark castle, snuggling my white teddy, imagining that all of the pillows on the floor were magic shields that will protect me if only I hug them tight enough.
I imagined the noise from the guns were like thunder coming from a big dragon who just flew too high and messed up the storm clouds.
I read my books in the light of the gas lamp.
I made up stories of winning the lottery and moving into a big house with a swimming pool and eternal sunshine.
I coped well with this event because I had a magical place where I could retreat.
I am sure a psychologist would be able to explain in clinical terms this sort of behavior and label it as “detachment” or “creating an alternate reality.”

For me, in the middle of it, believing in magic meant survival.

One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Brene Brown, in one of my favorite books, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead says:

“In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Mean making is in our biology, and our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense, feels familiar, and offers us insight into how best to self-protect.”

The example above is extreme and not too many people you or I know will go through something similar. But shocking events affect us all differently, and the story we build around these circumstances will dictate how we cope with them.

When I ask kids about magic, some of them say “magic doesn’t exist. Fairies are made up.” I then proceed to another perspective and ask them “what about monsters and zombies?” They believe those are real.

I know parents who entirely dismiss Santa, The Tooth Fairy or The Easter Bunny because they claim they don’t want to lie to their children.
They want their feet to be firmly planted in reality.
And they do this because they were themselves disappointed when as kids, they eventually stopped believing in magic.

But childhood, by definition, is the only unrestricted time when the connection with the imaginary world is the strongest. Kids can build up fantasy worlds, imaginary friends, complicated plots and complex situations out of nothing. They are not overwhelmed by reality, previous heartbreak or “who do I think I am, to dare think these things” self-talk. And that is magic.

When I was small, I watched dust particles lift into the air after arranging my pillow, and I genuinely believed them to be tiny fairies who guarded my sleep every night. When I woke up with a nightmare, I knew I only had to think of my guarding fairies, and they will help me get back to sleep.
I sat in the summer grass looking up at the blue sky, so intensely I could see tiny lines moving. I believed they were magically made for me.
I heard trees move in the wind and I knew them to be speaking to each other and us.
Every time one of my wishes came true, I believed it happened because of magic.
I manifested results in school, meeting people, getting jobs, seeing shooting stars, rainbows, outfits or boyfriends. I even manifested my husband.
That’s not to say I didn’t suffer. Of course, many tragedies and traumatic events happened, but with each one, as soon as I was able to get past the victim mode I always, truly believed that life is happening for me and that I am protected.

You see, the story that we choose to embrace is the story that will dictate how we deal with life events.

Our kids naturally know how to do it. Just ask them open-ended questions. Go for a walk outside and ask:
“What do you think the wind is saying to the trees?”
“What was that bird saying to us?”
“Who do you think made that rainbow?”
“Why are butterflies so colorful? What makes them like this?”
or if all of these are too spooky, just say:
“what do you see?” “what to do you think?” and “what do you hear?”

Get out of teacher mode and get into pupil mode. Open yourself up to be taught by your kids, and you will be surprised by what they can do with their minds.

You see, kids don’t need coaching to get INTO believing in magic. They just need adults to get out of their way with explaining everything so that it makes sense to their rational brains. They need us to stop trying so damn hard to talk them OUT of believing in what they can’t see.

I still believe in magic. I make parking spots appear, traffic disappear, I attract the most amazing people in my life to be my friends or collaborators, and I am deeply convinced that every single event happens FOR me and not TO me. I get there as soon as I start believing and stop resisting.

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