Back in the summer, I overheard my 5-year-old having a conversation with one of her friends who is a year older than her. It was one of those serious moments between children that are just too tempting for the adults to butt in, so I knew I had to leave the room.
“What do you mean Santa doesn’t bring you presents?” asked the friend.
“Santa doesn’t exist,” replied my daughter matter-of-factly.
“Santa doesn’t exist?” came back a surprised question, while I fought the urge to run back in and distract them.
“Well, in OUR home,” continued my daughter, “while my sister and I sleep, our parents leave us presents. And it’s SO exciting in the morning – I run down and we open them, and it’s so much fun!”
Let’s leave me in the kitchen to eaves-drop on this conversation for a moment, while I explain. I have heard the pro-Santa argument so many times from parents wanting to “preserve the magic” for their kids, but here is why it doesn’t work for me.
First of all, my aim as a parent is to have the most authentic and the most honest relationship with my kids that I can create. And FOR ME that includes simple open conversations about all body parts and their functions, honestly addressing emotions that my kids or I feel, answering more and more complex questions about where the baby sister came from, as well as where my grandparents have departed to. It extends all the way to me being quick to apologise when I don’t get things right and involves constantly admitting that I don’t have THE answers to the big questions, only the beliefs that I am choosing for me. And yes, FOR ME being an authentic parent includes disclosing to my kids that, while everyone is free to believe and practise whatever they want, there is no bearded man tip-toeing through our living room on Christmas Eve. Unless, of course, I mean my husband.
In addition to this being the most authentic approach FOR ME, I simply do not agree that this is the right way to address the question of “preserving the magic”. It would seem that the main reason to hold onto Santa’s story is this – I would insist faulty – premise that the amount of magic is finite and it decreases as we grow up. We start life as these open-eyed curious beings who find infinite wonder and magic in the smallest most mundane details of the world, and, supposedly, the role of the adults is to maintain this feeling state for as long as possible until the kids are old enough “to face the reality”. So we, parents, need all the help we can get from Santa, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as we barricade against the inevitably approaching tide of “Truth” that magic is “made up”.
But who told us that magic is made up? How did we arrive to the conclusion that wonder has to diminish as we grow up? How did we come to believe that Magic (and I mean that capital “M” with my entire being) – like superpowers, extrasensory abilities, shifting between different worlds, spontaneous healing, communing with animals, plants or minds of others through distance, jumping timelines, creating realities and much much more. How did we come to believe that this is only the stuff that sci-fi and fantasy films are made of? Who convinced us that the moment those closing credits appear, we better snap out and land back onto this plain old dusty ball of a planet and again – “face the reality”.
The certainty about magic that we possess as kids begins to slowly diminish each time our fantasy games and daydreaming get interrupted, each time our imagination is corrected. It reduces every time we are instructed not to question and are told to accept the authoritative “because I told you so”. This relentless chipping away of magic continues with the eventual Santa’s and his buddies’ departure from “reality”. Some of us get to swap Santa for beliefs about another bearded man that resides high above and is equally judgmental of our behaviour. By the time we become adults, most of us are completely stripped off of any sense or connection with magic. It is cemented within us that to be acceptable and sensible we should leave any notion of magic where it belongs – for circus, kids’ play, or some “primitive“ cultures that didn’t have science to prove their ignorance. What we should believe in as “real” is well, “reality” – like what the news or media tell us (as if something cannot possibly be real or true unless it is made mainstream).
How about – thanks, but absolutely no. It took me years to claim my Magic back. It took some serious unlearning to nourish it and to start believing it again. I invoked it moment by moment, as I trusted and witnessed my body’s abilities to heal, to create and birth babies without any authority’s permission, advice or guidance. It took continuous tapping into inspiration, creative impulses and intuitive guidance, pausing and realigning each time something felt “off”. Among my many superpowers preserved from childhood is continuous asking of questions even – or especially – when the answers threaten to destroy the very foundations my beliefs are standing upon.
Kids KNOW that they and the world around them are full of Magic. Instead of trying to teach them to preserve it, we should join them as their students and start reviving it inside ourselves. We can only teach kids by our own example – firstly, by tapping into magic ourselves and unplugging from any narrative that constrains us from expanding into what else is possible. We should take their hand and admit that we cannot teach something we no longer remember ourselves, and let them lead us to the closest ant or into an ecstatic dance, full of amazement at how our own bodies move. We should remember to question – EVERYTHING. We should constantly ask ourselves the most dangerously expansive question of all – “what if?” – even when it pushes us to surrender into the possibility of not knowing. We should learn from kids sacred rebellion, especially, when something feels “off”, when inner knowing about what is possible is faced with an authoritative narrative that censors free thought and forbids digging deeper. We should really let kids teach us to be open to what is or can be real, to face our fear and let go of what we’ve collected as “Truth”.
What if magic is so vast that it doesn’t need to be preserved, only tuned into? What if this world is much much more imbued with it than we have ever allowed ourselves (or have been allowed by others) to believe? What if we are infinitely more magical than we’ve been permitted or have permitted ourselves to believe? What if there are worlds, dimensions and multitude of realities extending in all directions (including inwards) that we haven’t yet learned to tap into? What if we simply haven’t yet trained our senses to pick up on the subtle hum of absolutely everything around constantly communicating with us? What if we are completely soaked in and engulfed by Magic that is quietly waiting for us to wake up to it and start playing with it? What if it is all upside down and sci-fi and fantasy movies are more real than the news? What if we switched off all that noise that seeks to distract us from realising how powerful and Magical we really are?
But let’s go back to me in our kitchen, eavesdropping. As I strained my hearing to find out how those two will resolve their differences, my daughter’s friend concluded, “Well, in MY house, it is Santa who brings presents for sure. At night my parents are definitely asleep.”
Perhaps, that is the most magical thing about this whole place. We can believe absolutely any thing and moment by moment we will receive evidence to support our beliefs. So then why not choose to believe that Magic is real?Tags: conscious parenting limiting beliefs magic mindfulness