Saturday, March 26, 2016


My son (age 8) still believes. Believes in it all. Santa, the tooth fairy, the wood fairies that live in the "enchanted forest" behind our house (the ones that periodically leave a gift of a glass gem or gold bell), the Switch Witch who comes on Halloween and trades your candy for a toy. Once in a while he makes a grand announcement that he, in fact, does not believe, but then the Switch Witch fails to trade candy for toy on the first night because, even though she was at Target returning things two days before halloween, she forgot all about her duties and neglected to pick anything up. But my son's crushing disappointment leads me to conclude that his proclamations are just for show. He believes.

And tomorrow is Easter. Although I'm pretty sure that the Easter Bunny comes of her own accord and does her thing unbidden, my kids decided to hedge their bets and leave a note with requests. Clark's note says: "Instead of a stuffed animal, can you leave me a playmobil set?" Pretty sure that's not gonna happen. And there are carrots for goodwill or, perhaps, bribery.

For a while I worried that Frances, in particular, was getting too old for this belief. She will be 10 by next Christmas, and aren't we in dangerous territory if she is still hanging on? As a child I was unburdened of belief at age four, so I don't understand the value of continued belief, don't understand what good it does developmentally. But my most recent thought is that there is no harm. That, in fact, belief in this kind of magic is important, that it enables them to believe in unseen things later on: friendship, love, God, goodness.

In fact, isn't Santa really God embodied?? The one who sees us when we are sleeping, he knows when we're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. He hands down judgements from on high: toys or coal, but who gets coal? A benevolent kind grandfatherly type, and he loves you so much you get to sit on his lap! The protestant ideal.

Plus, I've come to believe they will arrive at the Truth on their own.

So I've let go of the worry. I do not lie to them; when they ask directly (the boy has asked maybe twice in his life) if Santa or the Easter Bunny is real, I simply turn the questions around: "What do you think?" And he enters into a lengthy monologue about his thinking, demonstrating that he wasn't really interested in my answer after all-- he simply wanted an outlet for this thoughts.

Just before this past Christmas, two of his school friends kept telling him that Santa isn't real. He didn't know what to make of this. He brought it up to me several times, what these friends were saying, but interestingly during this time he never asked me directly. Finally he said that he had proven to one of them that Santa is indeed real: he said, "If Santa isn't real, when you write him a letter, where does it go?" His friend said, "Nevermind," and dropped the subject.

And Clark knew then that he had stumped him.

He is the more mathematical and scientific minded of the two. She is the artistic one. Her belief is less wavering-- when he first announced that he thought it was perhaps parents and not Santa or the Easter Bunny that brought things, she said, "Maybe it's the fairies!"

Yet I see the questions behind her eyes. I hear her mind whir when she asks what's in the sealed box filled with Easter candy she happened upon. She chooses to accept my explanation, but she wonders. She suspects. She sneaks around and leaves presents for Clark from the "fairies" or "leprechauns" and shushes me not to tell him. She plays the game for him, the bringer of joy. She understands the function of the magic. She chooses to believe. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

hello again.

Things are changing for me. I'm in a kind of personal transition, a remaking of myself, a shift of identity and approach. I feel it inside my bones, a basal sliding. And it's most evident right now in my parenting. I'm becoming a different parent.

I haven't written here in a long time. I haven't wanted to. I started the blog when my babies were tiny, to help me through the trials of having tiny babies, and two of them so close together. Around the time Clark turned five I realized I didn't need this blog anymore in the same way. I no longer had babies. My work was no longer the universal work of caring for these tiny people, but was now the complicated work of relationship. And I didn't want to write about that. It felt too personal.

But now... now I want to write again. Now I'm seeing them through new eyes. It's a change in me, the frame through which I look, and I need to process it again.

I thought about starting a new blog--that perhaps this one is finished, or that it is too awkward for me to come back here after so much time away; but here is where I write about these children, after all.

They are different now--they are full people for sure. Clark will be eight on Tuesday, four days from now. Today when I picked him up from school I told him to put on his hat and gloves because the dog and I had walked, and he said, "Awwww! I don't want to walk-- I'm tired." And then he happily hopped from snow pile to snow pile all the way home. The snow here has warmed and softened, and then frozen again, so is a kind of snow cement, the kind you can mostly walk on top of without breaking through, or can slide down the mountain side of the plow pile, a miniature glacier at the end of each driveway. Clark's trick was to slide down on his feet, to land right side up. At one point, watching his evident joy at simply being outside, I said, "It's too bad we walked. You're not having any fun." And he grinned at me.

I want to hug them more. I want to hear them talk. Before, I was emotionally exhausted, was overwhelmed, had trouble giving them my energy. Now I want to be with them. Tremors underfoot.

Frances is nine. She wants all the grown up things--the make up and the clothes and the music, and I've surprised myself that I haven't wanted to resist her more. I loved that little girl she was, but I'm fine with the change. She's not allowed to wear makeup out of the house, but she often wears it inside, and yesterday we went shopping for bras--well, bralettes, little thin sports bra type things with no padding--even though she is shaped the same as she was at five, just taller. She says they keep her warmer, here in the snow belt. Perhaps.

This age is better for me. I loved the little ones, but they pushed my every button, and without meaning to. Somehow the preschool age in particular triggered things in me--I think the tortured child inside me is probably that age. This age doesn't push my buttons the same way. Even the eye rolls, the defiance--I can handle that so much better. Maybe this is why I don't mind the make up and bras-- because the younger ages weren't easy for me to begin with. Maybe I'm eager to let it go.