I woke up this morning to a fine dusting of snow over the ground. No chocolate eggs anywhere to be found. No baskets filled with that fake grass stuff that seems to multiply as you try in vain to throw it all out. No Kinder Surprise waiting to hatch “toys” that are really just tiny weapons of foot destruction, like legos but seasonal. Just snow. “April Fools!” shouts Mother Nature. Biatch. Does this mean Jesus stuck his head out of the cave and decided there would be six more weeks of winter? That doesn’t sound right…maybe I should brush up on my theology. The snow on the ground is clouding my brain.
I think what the whole lack of Easter egg hunting really means, besides the fact that I can no longer count on surprise chocolate rewards for dusting, is that my kids aren’t little kids anymore. They’re teenagers. We got them chocolate bunnies and pre-paid Mastercards for Easter; it’s the beginning of the end. Maybe Jesus (the groundhog??) had the right idea – disappearing into a cave until the teenage shitstorm is over sounds like a pretty good plan actually; but no, I can’t do that. Raising a semi-functioning human being for at least 18 years is what we sign up for when we shove those little love terrorists out of our howling honey pots. Hunkering down in a cozy little cavern with some snacks and a taser isn’t part of the deal.
I always thought I would be so relieved when the whole Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy/etc. ordeal was over. And I am, a little bit – it’s way less work – but I didn’t count on wishing the magic was still real to my kids. Losing that piece of childhood wonder seems to be hurting me more than them and I wasn’t expecting that. We spend so much of their childhood teaching them how to grow up…but once they actually start doing it, the instinct to reel them back in becomes almost desperate. We all know that growing up is a trap, and I think it’s natural to panic a little when we realize that our kids are heading straight for it and we handed them the damn map. Here ya go kiddies – follow that magic right into the lions jaws #bestaprilfoolsjokeever!
Perhaps slightly dramatic, ok, but kinda true. We hold their hands and kiss their boo-boos, and convince them that magic is real, and then we kinda just pull the ripcord, throw the first aid kit at them, and beg them for the love of fucknuggets to pay absolutely NO attention to the man behind the curtain, because that man is us and most of what we told you is a lie. Congratulations, you just graduated childhood; welcome to the jungle. Sound about right?
A little heavy, perhaps, for a holiday; but you know I’m all about being honest with you. I guess it has to be this way; I mean, it’s not like you can tell a toddler to get a job, or explain to a baby what it’s like to live in a world with no Easter Bunny. We want them to stay kids as long as possible, while at the same time pushing them to become self-sufficient about as gently as you pushed that time that Labour Day took on an entirely new meaning and you finally understood what the Grand Canyon feels like on a personal level.
Parenting is a tough job; there’s no foolproof way to do it. There’s no returns or exchanges. Most of the time it’s thankless, sleepless, and horrendously unsanitary. The rewards are seemingly small; watching them (finally) sleep and wondering how you ever made something so perfect, that little smile when they say “I love you”, the unexpected hugs, and a million other little things that are a million times better than the words “thank you” (you won’t hear that magical phrase until they have kids of their own, but they’ll probably mean it so there’s that). Those little things are the real magic. The cataclysmal tantrums, the whining, the peeing, the barfing, the spilling, the snotballs…those are just nature’s way of reminding us that the nest does need to be emptied at some point. Preferably before 30, but nowadays that may be just wishful thinking. FML.
So keep the magic alive as long as possible; we all know that the road to adulthood is usually not easy, and a little bit of soothsaying along the way to cushion the journey never hurt anybody. Especially since it’s a one-way ticket to more types of fuckery than most of us ever dreamed was possible, and we don’t get any fancy ruby slippers to send us back. Teach your kids to live in the real world, but at the same time leave some room for wonder. Pretty rich, especially coming from the girl who literally counted the years until she could kiss Santa and his fat red ass goodbye, but now that he’s gone I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the idea of him and his magical sidekicks because they were my last chance to make magic that my kids believed in. Someone once said that it’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done. I think if we could teach our kids one life lesson, that one might be a good place to start.
At the end of the day, the pretend childhood magic is just that. Pretend. The real magic is being here, being part of the human chain, and possibly creating the greatest magic of all – our whiny, snot-nosed little rugrats who grow up way too fast no matter what we do. Enjoy the magic, embrace it, love it, and never give up on it. The proof that it exists is right there in your living room, eating all the Cheetos and hogging the WiFi.
Stay Magical Peeps!