I believe in introducing a sense of wonder and play to my children. I believe in letting their imaginations flourish.
I believe in the power of stories. I believe in myth.
I believe in the Tooth Fairy. What the Tooth Fairy does with all those teeth she collects and what her source of funding is, I don't know. My mother sewed my brother and I special pillows for the tooth and money exchange. In another year or two, I look forward to sewing a special pillow for Cullen and then for Finnian.
I believe in things that are unseen. That are unexplainable. That are euphoric coincidences.
I believe in Santa Claus - or, in our house, the Winter King. There is a spirit of sharing and giving. It is part of humanity. A special part. I anthropomorphize it and call it a name, but I believe it is bigger than me or you or the Western world. It is a part of something, something special that we gift to those we love. It brings a smile to our face. I share that with my children.
I believe in personal myths. Introducing the ghost house in our neighborhood:
Walking by this empty lot with Cullen one day, I told him it was the ghost house. It has a driveway, but the house is invisible. His imagination has been captured by this. When we drive by it, he tells me what is going on in the ghost house. Who lives there. The games they play. He asks to go by the ghost house on our walks. I have not contributed to this process beyond that initial conversation when I pointed the lot out to him.
I love seeing their imaginations fly - going past things seen on tv or in books to a landscape of their own creation. I love hearing their own explanations of the world.
When I was a young girl, my uncle took me to a storm drain and warned me about the BIG GREEN ARM that would reach up and snatch me if I stood too close. Years later (after the delicious terror had subsided a little), I shared this with my father. Turns out my father and uncle were taken to the edge of a cliff by their uncle and told a BIG GREEN ARM would snatch them off if they stood too close. Yes, I will continue the tradition and scare the bejeezus out of my own kids (or better yet, my brother's kids should he ever have some) with the tale.
Why? Because to be human is to tell stories. To open our imaginations to things seen and unseen. Stories are what give us character and form. What did you learn about my uncle in the story above? That he had a puckish sense of humor and that he had a huge effect on my life.
There is power in facts. There is power in science. I do not deny this. I share the wonder of the world of facts and science with children on a daily basis. If they ask me a question, I try to answer it as accurately as possible. But, in my opinion, if I left things there I would only be opening them up to part of the world around them. There is a shared sense of story within our culture (some argue that shared stories ARE culture). The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, ghosts, goblins, are all a part of this.
Some people do not want to "lie" to their children. They say that by not telling their children about these cultural myths they are building a foundation of trust that will always be there. I agree that trust and honesty is integral between parenthood and child. But parenthood is about so many moments, not any specific one. I try very hard to be honest with my children. If I am asked a question, I try to answer it as completely as possible. One day, I will be asked whether the Tooth Fairy is real. I will most likely turn the question around and ask if the child thinks she is real. That will help me determine the response I need to give at that moment.
Until then, I will indulge in the magic of make believe. I will share stories and lore from my own family and from our culture and other cultures. I will listen with open ears and mind to the descriptions of the ghost family and cherish the expression of wonder and awe on my child's face when he wakes up on Yule. I do it for them and I do it for me.