The Magic of a Child’s Mind

Posted: November 25, 2012 in General
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I have been tossing the idea for this post around my dome for a while now but have not been sure how to put it out there and still get my thoughts across.  While out spending the Turkey day weekend with the family in our retirement zone, we opted to take the kids out to see a movie and in an hour and a half of 3D animated magic I watched play out on the screen.  Rise of the Guardians may not go down in the top of all animated classics, but it was a very good movie with a great message about our children and it is one that will stay with me as time goes on and I watch my little girl growing up and wonder how much loger she will have that holiday magic we all look for in our kids.

The premise of the story is pretty simple and I promise not be a spoiler for the ending.  Pitch Black or the Boogey Man comes back from his banishment in the Middle Ages by the current guardians: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sand Man.  The Man in the Moon is the all seeing boss of goodness and appoints Jack Frost as the newest guardian to the ire of the current guardians.  You see, no one really believes in Jack unlike the other guardians so it is a bit confusing to the others as to why he should be a guardian.  Meanwhile, Pitch and his nightmares begin to pick off the guardians one by one and as children begin to believe in nightmares they begin to lose their belief in the guardians, and this is where the story ties into this little idea that I have had for a while.

The real mission of the guardians is to protect belief and imagination in children.  It keeps them safe and it helps the legends of all these mythical characters to live on and on.  As pitch begins to blink out the lights of imagination of all the little children of the world and the guardians begin to lose their power and status it is up to Jack and one little boy who refuses to give in to fear to save the day.  You can figure out the rest, or better yet, take your kids to see a really good holiday movie that has more to do with the the minds of our children and how we can foster their imagination than it does any particular holiday.

As we roll into the holiday time, we get inundated with both the commercialization of the coming days and the perpetuation of personal belief and prejudice that actually have nothing to do with the seasons we approach.

My little princess has a wonderful imagination.  She looks forward to the holidays and things like losing her teeth for the Tooth Fairy to replace with a small monetary gift.  She tells stories about Christmas and the Easter Bunny that she simply makes up and fuses together from all the old TV shows about the holidays.  I can’t imagine ever doing something to ruin a mind like that and I hope as she gets older and matures that she never loses that brilliant imagination.  I hope that she grows out of the legends that we all have as kids rather than having them spoiled by someone who does not have that magic left in themselves or thinks kids need to know the “truth” or at least the truth as they see it.

As a child the holidays were a magical time for me.  It was about family and giving, taking trips during the winter break at school.  The holidays were about seeing my grandmother and my aunt’s making way too much food and the pounds and pounds of homemade sweets that would line the kitchen counters.  It was about sitting at the kids table with all my cousins while all the family that had gathered were crowded around the “adult’s” table.  Of course there was also the inevitable card game that would go on into the wee hours of the night.  If the Christmas gathering happened to be at my Grandmother’s house we would load up the van for the long trip home and stop by the cemetery to visit my Grandfather’s grave on the way out of southwestern PA.

Time has gone on and we have all gotten older.  For most of my family the necessities of day to day life have taken the place of the magic and the imagination.  The kids I grew up with are all older, we lost my grandmother years ago and my uncle Ken a few years back.  All of us cousins that grew up together all have kids of our own and through the wonders of FaceBook I can see that the one thing we have all done is fostered that wonder and imagination in our kids when it comes to the holidays.  I get to see my niece and nephew with pictures of missing teeth and all my cousins’ kids as well.  I get to see the happy family holiday cards that I have to say seem to be genuinely happy to me.  I get to see the success after a great Easter egg hunt and of course the wonder on little kids faces as we snap away while they open that present from Santa.

I am not one to wax romantic about the things I miss from childhood and that would be defeating the whole purpose of this post.  That would be that in seeing the imagination growing and developing in my little girl, I realize that is the true wonder of childhood.  It is not restricted to my little girl either, it is, or should be every child out there.  That imagination should be the fuel that we adults live off of.  The unfortunate thing about childhood is that for many kids circumstances move them out of childhood way too soon.  Sometimes, as they learn to adapt to their circumstances they sacrifice imagination for pragmatism or cynicism and instead of hoping Jack Frost makes sure that the groundhog sees his shadow, insuring six more weeks of Winter, and just maybe one more snow day off of school.

Something I hope I do with my little girl is show her that her imagination can be a way to deal with things she sees or could see in real life.  I hope to never imprint her with my own irrational fears (snakes, deep water, etc.).  If she has a nightmare about vampires, I want to bitch-slap a vamp right in the mouth and knock their fangs out, rendering them useless and therefore not dangerous.  If the bogey-man visits her I want her to figure out ways that she can use her imagination to overcome him; maybe it could help her one day should she be unfortunate enough to ever have a life threatening encounter.  We need to foster our children’s dreams and imagination while it is active and outlandish if we ever want them to use it in a practical manner later in life.

We should always see our children and wonder what is behind that sparkle in their eye.  Sometimes that sparkle may be mischief and other times, hopefully, most times, it may be the shear joy and delight at that moment in their lives.  As adults we all know there are monsters out there and, unfortunately, they take different forms than the Bela Lugosi films of our youth.  We can only protect our children for so long from them, at some point they need the tools to deal with them themselves and then take the mantle on to protect their families from them too.  Somewhere in that transition they will move from awe and magic to the pragmatism required to deal with life.  We as adults can use that naivete of youth and the imagination it inspires to help prepare them, we do not have to quash it.

Let us foster our children’s minds over the coming weeks and let that jolly fat bastard have one hellacious time delivering to all the good girls and boys.  Post those happy photos with Santa.  Explain to your kids why we drop our spare change in the little red bucket.  That honesty and truthfulness, combined with a child’s imagination just may be the solution later in life for not needing the Salvation Army to collect our spare change.

Over the next few weeks I will be deleting all the sales deals and specials sales.  I will instead be looking at all the holiday photos and reading about Christmas shopping lists from kids.  I will try to enjoy the mystery that is the mind of our children and remember that those beliefs in things we consider imaginary are what makes our kids lives go round.  Enjoy your holidays, whatever fashion you choose to celebrate them in.

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