Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Childhood Magical

I often stop to wonder what it is about their childhoods that my children will remember when they are grown. Some days it is a struggle just to get to school before the bell rings: breakfast is toast and juice in the car seat on the way, and I have promised more than once that no one will notice if your socks don’t match. I would love for my children to remember me as really having it all together, but life gets in the way of my best laid plans, and I am usually still in my pajamas during those early morning car trips to school. Then there are days when things go reasonably well and I have a moment or two to invest in making something special happen to make my kids smile. It’s usually something small and easy, but it comes from my heart.

I’ve discovered that creating everyday magic for kids starts with taking cues from them and playing along. My three year old is entirely convinced that she is capable of turning around three times and disappearing. My son thinks he can say a magic word and change the radio station in the car (shhhh……there is a “magic button” on my steering wheel!). Both kids believe that Daddy can pull quarters out of their ears and remove his own thumb with a swipe of his hand. Sometimes the magic even seems to work. It’s cute that as we’re arriving at Costco, my son claps his hands twice to make a parking space appear. So why is it that my luck is better if he is there to do the magic clapping?

A little magic and mystery can make the mundane routines of life a little more interesting. Around our house it is important for bedrooms to be tidy because we never know when The House Fairy might stop by! The House Fairy visits children’s rooms and makes sure they are neat and clean. If they are, she leaves a small gift, a note, and a tell-tale sprinkling of sparkly fairy dust from her wand. If a bedroom is messy, she leaves a warning note and promises to return. Should the room be found in disarray a second time, her assistant, The Crabby Elf, has been known to take a toy away for a week. We cheer when a surprise appears on a bedroom dresser while we are having dinner. We shake our heads sadly when The Crabby Elf has had reason to confiscate a toy. This little bit of magic makes me less of the bad guy and more of their ally in the fight against bedroom clutter. Please visit to learn more.

Visit The House Fairy at

I surveyed my girlfriends, and here are some simple ideas to sprinkle a little everyday magic into children’s lives:
• Bathtub tints make the water any color of the rainbow (find them next to the bubble bath). Toss them in when the kids aren’t looking!
• After the kids are in bed, decorate the house for a made-up holiday, like Purple Day, and serve a themed breakfast and dress everyone accordingly.
• Celebrate their half-birthdays with a surprise.
• Sprinkle invisible Giggle Powder on a grumpy child’s food.
• Give veggies cool names like “X-ray Vision Carrots.”
• Point in the distance and announce a sighting of The Easter Bunny, Santa or a flying superhero, just as he disappeared over the horizon.

My friend Wendy, a teacher turned stay-at-home mom, is a genius at creating and nurturing childhood magic. She loves to throw simple parties in honor of favorite books or movies. She went all out for The Jungle Book and surrounded the family room with all the house plants and stuffed animals she could find. The movie Ratatouille was celebrated with kitchen utensils strung up like garland, and they had ratatouille for dinner. I love moms like Wendy who inspire me to be more and do more!

Looking back on my own childhood, I realize that the magic came easily to my parents. I mean, not many families get to live on an enchanted little farm in central Ohio! Giants used to dine on an aging wooden structure out in the woods, and the barn held an old locked safe that was most likely full of pirate treasure. We even caught glowing fairies in jars on summer nights, though we would have to explain to visitors that they were not fireflies.

My parents really had it easy. I have to invent this stuff for my own kids!

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