I like to talk to my son Ollie after his last bottle of the day, on the nights that I lay him down to sleep. He’s only four months old with no concept of what I’m talking about, yet he lays there quietly, listening and moving his lips, shaping voiceless words between his coos and smiles. Wide-eyed, he looks up at me in wonder. What must he think I am; this bearded, unintelligible giant that smothers him with kisses? He’s so innocent, helpless and unaware, that sometimes it even moves me to tears.
My daughter Zöe is four years old and lives in a world where fairies are real and elves on shelves can come to life and cause a little mischief when you aren’t looking. She plays dress-up and make-believe and asks to go on adventure walks, because kids are creatures of endless imagination. She asks for bedtime stories and songs before bed. There is a beautiful innocence to that as well. It’s precious beyond measure.
How can people do harm to children? They rely solely on you in their helplessness. How can anyone strip a child of his or her innocence? It is the essence of their childhood. It is, in my eyes, the most beautiful part of being a child. It should be nurtured, cherished and encouraged. It should be allowed to flourish and enrich their minds and hearts. I’m not saying to over-shelter your child, but to simply be mindful that a child should be allowed to be a child.
As adults, we lose that, don’t we? I suppose it’s necessary, but it’s sad as well. How many times have you heard someone say that it sucks to be an adult? Bills, responsibility, loss, heartbreak, and inadequacy… the list goes on and on. It’s inevitable that we should lose that innocence. How often do we long for simpler days, to regain even a hint of that?
My life has been that much more fulfilling because of my kids. They remind me of a time where this only child would brave the neighborhood alleys, full of overgrown weeds, with a wooden sword (that my dad made me), pretending to be He-man. “By the power of Greyskull!” I had the mother-fucking power! I did. My dad said so, and I believed him. I have great parents that let me be the weird and kooky that I was. I owe my imagination to them.
We should do everything that’s in our power to encourage our kids to be imaginative and creative and to nurture their beliefs in a world of magic. Read to them. Tell them stories. Urge them to be themselves and to know that it’s ok to be who they are. Let them have a childhood they can look back on one day and long for.
So here’s to that magic. May they never lose it, and may we find it again through their smiles and laughter.