I believe in magic because I see it everyday. I knew from a young age that I wanted to, at that time, “work” with kids. They have a way in to the good things in life that I think adults have potentially lost contact with. I suspected keeping this alive in my own self would mean being close to the source. My youthful ignorance sent me to five years of University to obtain a Degree in Elementary Education. Shiny and new I struck out in to the world of education only to discover the magic wasn’t there. It was disillusioning. But there were moments that kept me walking forward. They were in the preschool classrooms and in the recreation settings where play was the goal. The magic lay in the play, something that quickly looses importance with in the high pressure setting of a classroom. Please don’t read this to mean teachers are without the desire to be light and joyful and create play based learning, I am certain many are. It’s the pressure of the system of adults that informs them that’s fractured and that’s the place where play falls through the cracks and clear out of the classroom.
Having my own children is where I learned magic can continue beyond the young years and clear through to adulthood. It is the play that keeps the magic alive. The play is the important piece of the puzzle. It is the serious work of being youthful. Surrounding myself with children through the years has not been about their youth necessarily, it’s been about their freedom to play. Play is how they bring a light, inquisitive nature to expanding their understanding of the world around them.
My oldest son, super in to hockey, asked me to build a fantasy hockey team with him. He had found out through playing video games, just how this process would unfold. We sat down together each building a team, while laughing, bartering and researching. His knowledge trumped mine in seriously ridiculous ways. Yet, through the magic of play I expanded quickly my understanding of the game of hockey, the importance of stats and who the characters where leading the way in this sport. It was light, it was fun and it was feeding my sense of curiosity in a way statistics never had before.
Later in the day, I was removing snap circuits from the carpet floor, placing them neatly back in to their box. Enter my youngest son, “oh good those are ready for me to play with.” He puts himself in front of the TV the instruction manual to his left and he begins to play. Within ten minutes enthusiastic shouts call me to his side. “I used part of the instructions and part of my own ideas to build this. It has a fan and two lights.” And then stumbles out an understanding of circuits, energy flow and design that is more accurate then I could teach in a well planned lesson. He is vibrating with excitement. He is in the magic as he plays his way in to a deeper understanding of science concepts. It’s contagious.
I have been know to admit to preferring the company of most children over their adult companions, simply because the conversation I can engage in capture this magic. They are rich in possibility, dripping with humor and most often reveling of unique personalities. So, I chat up the children in order to see them clearly in the world and understand how they keep tapped in to the magic some associate only with childhood.
I have a profound sense of gratitude for the fact that I can stay home and live each day alongside my children. I know this a gift that is not afforded to every family trying to make ends meet. What I do think is possible for every family, every parent and even every adult, is the ability to still believe in magic even when age defines you as an adult. And I am gonna give you some tips on how to do that.
First up, notice the children in the world around you. I don’t mean through adult trained eyes, I mean through your heart space. Notice how they travel from one location to the next, it’s likely not in a straight line and they likely seen something beautifully distracting. Pay attention to the details of how they interact with the entire world around them, all the bits and pieces. And once you think you have a sense of how this differs from your own travels, walk like a child.
Next up, talk to children in the same interested and engaging voice you would a co-worker giving you the details of your next important business thing a ma jig. Then listen. Not just with your ears with your open hearted genuinely interested self. Children are wildly willing to tell you about the most fascinating adventures they have been on recently and I bet many of them have just been to places you haven’t seen in a while. Then talk like a child, rich in detail, stretching possibility in all the right places.
Now you are ready to play with a child. Some may be able to jump in to this step without a child around. But many will need some serious instruction to remember how to do this task. The business of being an adult can strip of us this basic understanding. Abandon yourself to the play. Let the child be the director, the engineer, the true facilitator of your play session. Give yourself the time needed to fully fall in to the play, letting all your adult worries fall away. Do this over and over again it might take some time to for your key to fit back in to the tickle trunk. And then make play a priority in your everyday way of being in the world.
I believe in magic cause I see it everyday. I promise you can too.