I try to make the world a magical place for Annie. That’s something my parents did for me when I was a kid, and I can still remember what it was like to think there really might be an elf hiding behind the tree in our backyard, or that I could make a baseball player on TV hit a home run if I wished hard enough for it. Some parents think it’s dishonest to present the world this way (and some even tell their kids the truth about Santa the second they’re old enough to understand it), but I figure reality will make itself known to Annie soon enough, and all of this magic stuff is good for her imagination.
With all of that said…
We reached a point this week where I had to tell Annie that the world may be a magical place, but it ain’t that magical.
Annie was painting with her watercolors when she called me over to show off a tree that she’d painted.
“It’s for Ted,” she told me, meaning the boy-aged hero of the movie The Lorax. “He wants a tree, so I made him one.”
“That’s sweet, Annie. I’m sure he’d love it.”
“I want to give it to Ted,” she said. “Have the mailman take it to him!”
“I don’t know if he can do that. But you know what I’ll do? I’ll take a picture of it and text it to Ted.”
Annie liked this idea and watched with interest as I took a photo of the painting and and hit “send.” Annie smiled, and I – foolishly, it would turn out – felt pretty good about my creative solution.
Annie then asked if she could watch The Lorax, so I put it on and went about doing some work. I could tell as she watched the movie, though, that she was growing more impatient by the minute. She finally burst into tears and said, “Ted doesn’t have a phone, Dad! He’s not getting the text!”
It dawned on me then what she’d been doing… watching the movie and waiting for Ted to pull out his phone and receive our text.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. He got it. They just didn’t show that part. Believe me, Ted has a phone!”
“No, he doesn’t!”
Annie grabbed her painting, ran to the TV, and tried sticking it into the side.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting it in there! For Ted to have!”
I laughed, which Annie did not appreciate as this was serious business, then kneeled and pulled her into my arms.
“This is just a movie, Annie. Ted is just a character like the ones in your story books. We can’t send him the painting even though it is an awesome painting.”
Annie whimpered and ran into her room. I suddenly regretted breaking it down to her like that.
“Wait, Annie!” I yelled as I ran after her. “He got the text! Ted just got the text!”
I realize I’ve now set myself up to have to “text” all of Annie’s favorite characters for a while, but that’s okay. Like I said, reality will make itself known to her soon enough.
Sounds like a good solution to me. A little magic never hurt anyone and helps spur creativity
kandi ann says:
Kids don’t ever think, damn my parents lied to me, but like you they do remember the magic you created and I bet like you, will do the same for their kids.
I completely agree. Childhood turns into the reality of adolescence & adulthood all too quickly & I think Annie will be grateful for the childhood you’re giving her.
You know, I take pictures of toys my son wants and “text” them to Santa ALL YEAR LONG. It makes it way easier to say no, and also, then I have a file of pictures of toys my son wants for Christmas.
Lately my son has really dialed it up a notch – he’s been asking if we can call Santa on the phone and ask him over for a playdate (and probably to solicit him for toys, lets be honest). I’ve been able to get him off that by promising that Santa is going to send an elf to our house on December 1st. Guess we are doing Elf on the Shelf this year!
Jess Z. says:
I am laughing picturing you running after her…”He got the text!” Lol!
Untypically Jia says:
Aww this was so sadly sweet. It may have it’s sad moments now, but good for you for keeping magic alive as long as possible!
I’m all for the magic. Heck, I still believe in Santa!
Mike that is the sweetest thing ever! I agree the world will be shown to her soon enough. The magic that you have created for Annie is something she will always remember. On the other hand Annie is one smart cookie I have never seen anyone as smart as she is at that age. I don’t think mine were even that smart lol.
You just have to do what’s right for your kid and your family. Some kids don’t handle the “magical” revelations well. A friend of mine is super into holidays and all the “magical” characters that come with them. Well, her husband had the kids believing that if they said some cute Christmas rhyme and clapped 3 times all together, that’s how the tree lights come on. It was really him with a remote control behind them. When their little girl found out, at 5 years old, she stormed off into her room and my friend found her crying on her bed, very upset that she had been tricked. My friend wasn’t expecting this at all and now has made some adjustments for their oldest. Their little boy, they still keep the magic alive for him. You gotta let your kid guide you. I’m sure you guys will figure this out and do what’s best for the family.
I loved reading this. I recently went through something similar with my seven-year-old. I made the mistake of letting him believe that his stuffed Toad and Mario dolls (from Mario Kart DS) were magical. I now spend late nights wearily setting up Mario and Toad head-first in open boxes of cereal, in bathtubs and in briefcases. Mario and Toad now have their own voices (courtesy of yours truly), and let me tell you, these two can talk for hours. Finally, my son now assigns each of them homework, so I have extra writing, coloring and drawing to do after a full-time job.
I too have set myself up and I’d do it again. Someday, we will be little more than embarrassing parents, kept within ten feet of school premises and met with rolling eyes and groans every five seconds. And the world ruins us all, soon enough. I say on with the magic. I’ll be setting up Toad with a bag of Doritos tonight. Let me know how the Lorax likes his painting.
Mike – I had a friend that I sent stuff to who would then respond to my kids via snail mail. They loved it. You could mail it to “Ted” aka Bampa, and have a reply sent back that way.
that would be a great app – charge 5 cents per text…
In high school I had to play Mrs. Clause to a friend whose twin brothers were misbehaving. My phone rang at home and I heard “I have Mrs. Clause on the phone RIGHT NOW” on the other end. I rolled with it. Best time ever.
The world can be a mean place. A little magic never hurt anything. I love the person above with the Mario and Todd figures. And the other person who sends snail mail. I’d give anything to be able to do that now. And I’m 31. I still write snail mail letters to friends and it’s like a little dream in the mailbox.
According to the VERY magical Pinterest, (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/157344580704488220/) you can write to your favorite Disney character and they will respond. I have not personally done this, but it might be fun to try!