Every attempt was made, from where I sit, to make my daughter’s childhood as magical as possible. I wanted, and still do, to give her a love for the world and for life that would sustain her as life happened.
That plan hit a major speed bump recently.
You see, she’s growing up. The calendar turned into her 13th year just a couple weeks ago.
I was never out to protect her from reality, and in fact, knew I could not. I left her father, then he left her, the cat died, and so did Grandpa. She hears of other people of color getting shot for no reason. Her favorite stories are historical fiction. You catch my drift – my daughter is not sheltered.
But I was raising her as a seeker of goodness, of fun, of experiential living. She believed in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny for a loooong time. When other children around her told her it was hogwash, she felt bad for them, saying, “How sad they don’t believe in magic anymore.” We have traveled and been explorers together in new places. And at home I foster creativity likely, to most, a ridiculous degree. It has suited us both.
Yesterday morning was a grumpy one, though. After all, even the most magical life isn’t one filled with ecstatic happiness all the time. But she was on a downward spiral – this wasn’t good enough, that sucked, and on it went.
“What do you want? Do you know?” I asked. Because even adults don’t always know.
In fact, I’d venture that most adults rarely know. I knew this question would be the tipping point for her, because she understands that if she tells me an idea, a direction she wants to head, that I will move mountains if I am able to get it started and help her make it happen.
The response was a child, larger in size than myself now, curled up on the couch with me, weeping that her childhood was over. She wasn’t feeling happy about all the fun times we’ve had, just so, so sad that it was in the past. It doesn’t matter that we still have good, fun times every day. Looking ahead, she only sees adulthood, and apparently it doesn’t look promising to her.
You see, the night before we went to see the new Christopher Robin movie.
I won’t be a spoiler about the movie, but it stirred in us both a fondness for the past that literally had us leaning on each other, sobbing, as we left the theater. We both cried the entire ride home.
She used to pretend to talk to Rabbit on the phone, gushing at him that he was so funny. She’d bounce around the house like Tigger screaming that song of his. And her very first crush was Christopher Robin. That’s over.
I used to lay on my back in the grass and toss a little bitty curly haired girl in the air, who giggled with such glee, the sun beaming thru the canopy of leaves above. That, also, is over.
I knew, as her young childhood was happening, that it was finite. It would, at times, make me melancholic in the moment. Such beauty is always fleeting. It’s part of what makes it so beautiful, it’s impermanence. But she is just learning that now.
Telling her that there’s still lots of magic to be had wasn’t going to help her yesterday.
Because it’s different, and she knows it. I bit my lip so hard to keep myself from trying to convince her of all the great adventures we have coming up, and how much we have to feel grateful for. She just needed to be heard and validated, I knew this. So, I just held her tight. And she cried. And cried. I kissed her curly hair and let it soak up my own tears.
Our life is not a movie, and Christopher Robin is not going to walk through our door. And somehow, yesterday morning, that became okay, as we sat on the couch and cried.