The Day I Killed all the Magic

My children were all up and dressed before the sun awoke up this morning. This is partly my fault since I put them all to bed before the sun went down last night because PREGNANT MOMS GET TIRED!

I also forgot, yet again, to play Tooth Fairy last night because PREGNANT MOMS HAVE NO BRAIN CELLS! So Sloan, bless him, woke up disappointed one more time when there was no money left under his pillow.


Now let me give you a tiny glimpse into our philosophy on the “magic” of childhood. We have always celebrated things like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause with our kids. I know some people do not agree with this, but for us, it was fun and we’ve never felt that it was harmful practice.

I destroyed the myth of the Easter Bunny for our children last year because, honestly, it was my least favorite story. I mean, it just logically doesn’t make sense. Bunnies don’t even lay eggs, for heaven’s sake!

Side note: I have a distinct memory from my childhood, when I swear up one side and down the other that I saw the Easter Bunny. I heard a noise outside and went to cross the hall to my parent’s room, and a six foot rabbit stood on his hind legs at the end of the hall. I was so terrified, I dashed back to my bed and pulled the blankets over my ears.

My parents maintain to this day that it was simply a result of my overactive imagination. I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t one of them dressed up to torture me. Either way, the memory is as real as the nose on my face and I will stand by the story until the day I die.

End side note.

I came stumbled into the kitchen this morning at 6:20, and the first words to greet me were, “Mom! The Tooth Fairy didn’t come again. Is the Tooth Fairy even real?”

I’ve been wanting to let Sloan in on the secret of the Tooth Fairy and Santa for awhile now. I just really wanted him to hear from us, and not other people, that these were simply the fun aspects of being parents, so I took him to his room and tried to let him down gently.

“No. The Tooth Fairy isn’t real. I’ll give you a dollar for your tooth later, though, okay?”

Bribery is an art form, friends. Don’t judge.

“Well,” he said, and I knew it was coming. “What about Santa?”

“Well Santa is an interesting thing,” I answered as sweat gathered on my upper lip. “You know the true story of Saint Nicholas that I read to you every year?

He nods.

“Saint Nick was a real person, and he really did give gifts to those less fortunate. They hung stockings outside their windows, and on Christmas morning he would leave little treats, or necessary items in their stockings. It’s the magic of giving to others, and that’s a part of Christmas we like to celebrate.”

“Sooooo…Saint Nicholas is real?” Sloan asked.

“Well,” I answered, “Saint Nicholas was real. But he died a long time ago.”

Tact is also an art form. Look at all the things you’re learning from me today!

“And now,” I continued, “one of the fun things we get to do as parents is carry on his magical tradition of giving. We give to others at Christmastime, and we give to our children. We are Santa Clause! It’s a privilege to be Santa for our kids, and now that you know the secret, you can be Santa with us!”

He sits on his bed, face registering utter disbelief. “So you bought all those presents?”

“Well, yes,” I answered. You’re welcome, I thought. I wisely didn’t say that out loud.

“But I’ve heard Santa’s sleigh on the roof on Christmas Eve!”

There’s no real answer to this, so I stay quiet. This is probably somewhat akin to my vision of the Easter Bunny as a child.

“So,” he continued, still processing. “If I get to play Santa with you, does that mean I get to climb on the roof and slide down the chimney?!” His eyes light up.

“Uh…no. That doesn’t actually happen. That’s part of the myth of Santa.”

Face falls again.

“Now,” I continued. “Part of the fun of being Santa is keeping it a secret. You can’t tell anyone else about this because then it’s not as fun, so can you keep this just between us?”

He nods slowly. (I give it a week before the other two kids know about Santa.)

“I just can’t believe you’re Santa,” he says, shaking his head. Then he shrugs, stands up, and asks for some cereal, because when you’re a ten year old boy, food conquers all disbelief.

So the basic theme of this entire story is that I was Mommy the Dream Slayer this morning, and I destroyed the magic of childhood before the sun even rose above the trees. Later, after I’d sent them off to school, I got tickled about the whole conversation and called Lee (who is out of town) to tell him that I destroyed childhood for our firstborn today, and to congratulate him for missing out on that parenting milestone.

Then we both thought of this quote from Talladega Nights, and got to laughing so hard we were crying, because, yeah – for Sloan this was akin to being mauled by a cougar and having his favorite Crystal Gale t-shirt ruined.

So…anyone else in need of a little dream slaying today?

Apparently I’m on a roll.

(PS – I know this can be a hot button topic in some circles, so respectfully I ask that it not become one here. Santa and the Easter Bunny always have very small roles in our holiday celebrations. Kind of like Nutella plays a small role in our every day snacking, but it is not our main source of nutrition…
We spend a lot more time discussing the true meaning of those holidays than we do on the commercial characters of the holidays. I’m not defending my position – I’m just stating the reasons behind why we chose to include those stories in our celebrations. Thanks for understanding.)

When We Dared to Dream

Childhood is built on dreams.

Fanciful daydreams of a life of grandeur are the things that make childhood so magical. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies to strike the fatherless is the stripping of innocence – a building block of dreams.


My daughter and I had a few moments alone in the car last week, and she reminded me yet again of the power of a good dream. We were on our way to her gymnastics practice, and she didn’t really want to go. She was tired, she wanted to stay home and fight with play with her brothers, and she just wasn’t in the mood for a four hour workout.

After a few tense moments of whining and pouting, she quieted down and took a deep breath.

“Mom?” she asked.

I glanced at her through the rearview mirror and reminded myself that she’s still so young. Big eyes hover over soft, full cheeks and a nose dotted with fine freckles. I waited for her to speak. She is the child who needs space to prepare her thoughts, slowly and deliberately choosing each word.

“I don’t want to play soccer next year.”

I was surprised by this comment. It was random and didn’t fit the context of our previous conversation. “Okay,” I answered. “You don’t have to.”

“I just don’t see myself as a soccer player,” she said, and I bit back a smile.


“And I really don’t want to play softball,” she continued, her voice strong and adamant.

I turned onto the street where her gym was located and tried to follow along with her train of thought, to connect the dots from the anger about having to leave for gymnastics and the present conversation. I had a moment of panic, wondering if she was leading up to telling me she didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore. It’s a decision I would support, but it would break my heart, because she has so much talent.

“Well what do you see yourself doing?” I asked, guiding the car into a parking place in front of the gym. I put it in park and shifted so I could look her in the eye. She glanced out the window and a small smile spread across her face.

“I see myself at the Olympics,” she said. Her voice was wistful and dreamy and I couldn’t help but grin. I know that look, and I know what she’s feeling. When I was eight, I saw myself as an Olympic gymnast, too. I remember imagining the podium, and what it would feel like to watch the flag raised with my anthem playing. I envisioned this with the images of Mary Lou Retton shimmering in my mind.

She sees Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas.

“I’m ready now,” she said. “If I’m going to go to the Olympics, I guess I have to practice, huh?”

There’s something about childhood that makes dreaming so enviable. Right now, there is no doubt in her mind that her dream of going to the Olympics will come true, and there’s no part of me that plans to altar that dream with anything resembling a dose of reality. I know that with time and age, her dreams will shift, and they will mature, and they will change.

But I don’t ever want her to stop dreaming.

Too often as adults we let reality bury our dreams in a pile of salt. We become so practical that we forget the power of a healthy dream. We don’t let our dreams grow and mature with us, and we abandon the act of dreaming altogether.

My childhood dream of making the Olympic team is no longer a reality (though I think I could still have a shot at Curling. I mean, seriously…how hard could it be?!).

But there are realistic dreams that fit my life now, and I’m tired of pushing them aside. I dream of publishing books, of working more with organizations that support orphan care, of not settling and growing comfortable with a life of ease.

I dream of keeping a clean home.

Wait…never mind. That one is about as likely as me becoming the gold medal All Around gymnast in 2016.

The fact is, I don’t have to stop dreaming any more than my eight year old does. And what’s more – I need to chase my dreams as hard as she is chasing hers. I need to push for them, even when I don’t feel like it.

Because the power of a dreamer is the belief that dreams really can come true if we just don’t give up on them. (<—Click here to tweet!)

What are your grown up dreams? What are you doing to chase after them?

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