Saturday, May 18, 2013

Keeping the magic alive

Every Christmas, I insist on "Santa paper" and Nathan always kind of laughs at me.  Okay, maybe not out loud (usually) but I always get the sense that he thinks I'm a little goofy for thinking it's so important (be quiet, you know I'm honest and self aware enough to know I'm more than a little goofy but whatever).  Then something happened the other day that prompted me to say to him: "Now do you see why "Santa paper" is so important?"

Let me go back just a bit and explain how I found out the truth about the Easter Bunny.  When I was a kid, on Easter morning each year, we were treated to these awesome hunts for our baskets, with elaborate trails of clues until we finally found them.  As you can imagine, this was quite an undertaking for the poor Easter Bunny since there are 7 kids in our family, all within 10 years of each other.  It's understandable that he might need a hand in making that happen, so when the older kids in my family got to be old enough, they became Easter Bunny helpers...unbeknownst to me of course year, my clues were written in the unmistakable chicken scratch hand writing of a certain future doctor in our family.  I knew instantly despite the very logical explanation my Mom provided that in order to give us all these cool elaborate hunts, he HAD to ask for help...but you know, I suppose it was time.

Anyway, it's not that I resented it or that it made me sad or anything.  After all, I was able to hang onto the Easter Bunny magic a lot longer than the Santa magic, given the abrupt manner in which my sister told me the truth as she knew it about that particular yearly, middle of the night visitor.  It has made me (together with my stubborn insistence on ruining surprises meant for me and my impressive investigative skills) hyper aware of all the ways in which the magic can and might possibly be ruined for my kids.  So I work kind of hard at not letting that happen...yet.

A couple of days ago, Zoe randomly said: "Mommy.  Tell me the truth.  Did YOU write the fairy notes?"  I was struggling a bit to figure out what was going on in her head because it's been a while since we've done the fairy house thing.  Then she said: "They use the same pens as we do" which made me realize that since she has been using my Sharpies a lot lately, she had made the connection.  I tried explaining by suggesting the fairies could have borrowed our pens to write the notes, but I recognized the look on her face.  She looked like I felt on the inside when I'd made the connection between my Easter basket clues and my brother's handwriting.  Convinced.  I instantly said "No!  Of course not!" and realized I had a big decision to make as she looked me straight in the eyes and said "You promise Mommy?  Really really promise you didn't write those notes?"  I didn't miss a beat.  I looked her straight back into her eyes and promised I hadn't written them.  I'm not ready to take the magic away yet, I know that for sure.  She is only 5.  We only have a couple (if that) more years of this and I want her to live in that magical world as long as possible.  Yes, I love being on the other side of it all and can admit that it's partly for selfish reasons but I don't care.  I've picked a camp and I'm staying put.

For much of the rest of the day, she became obsessed with building a fairy house but still seemed convinced that I had written the notes.  It felt like a test.  Like she wanted to try it one last time to see what would happen.  The maintenance workers here happen to be pruning all the trees right now so we have an endless supply of materials for a few days.  As I worked at breaking sticks and peeling bark, she built the actual house (more like a pile of sticks, bark and leaves that only she can make out as a house but it is lovely of course) I was wracking my brain for the perfect way to attempt to pass the test but it didn't come to me until just before bedtime....

Here is what she found in the morning:
She was beyond excited and I reveled in the sparkle in her eyes as she told me about all the ways in which the house was different in the morning: "See, the bark is pushed out of the way so they must like sleeping on the dirt much better!", "I wonder why they moved the climbing  wall?" and my favorite, "Huh.  They didn't use the bathroom."

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