“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein
Are all lies bad?
When I think back to childhood my most cherished memories are of lying in bed Christmas Eve, painting eggs for the Easter bunny, putting a white tooth under a soft pillow, running across bridges so trolls would not bite my feet. It was not the gifts or shiny silver ten pence’s that I looked forward to, but that flutter of excitement and uncomplicated, unbridled delight.
Looking back, I feel so blessed to have had such a childhood, many do not. I watched the film Matilda and for a few weeks I believed, as certain as the sun will rise, that if I tried really hard I could make things dance with my mind. Of course I couldn’t but I gave it a darned good try. My mum had a quiet summer.
And, like all children (except one flying, green clad boy). I grew up.
The memories are still deep inside, in the pit of my stomach, down in the core of myself. It is my gift from the Loch Ness monster, the Sugar Plum Fairy, from Rudolph. As an adult I would do anything to get those feelings back. Because even though I can be joyful, excited, expectant, my brain always has sensible adult thoughts shifting around in the back. Like mortgage payments and laundry.
As an adult I know why the sky is blue, that Father Christmas was my mother, and is now me. That unless I fall over no more of my teeth will fall out. I would give almost anything for one day of being seven again on the first day of the summer holidays, or hunting for flower fairies with my best friend.
The difference now is as an adult I make my own magic.
The world is full of enchanted things, special, sparkling moments. In them I know that magic is real. Sunsets, stars, a game of chess and a phone call to my grandmother. Magic is just a little different than the type I grew up with.
The Santa debate
When my son was a baby my Nan asked if I was going to tell him that Santa was real. I was thrown by her question. She said, do you think it is a bad thing to lie to him? She meant this question only with love and I had never thought about it as a lie. It was more about bringing hope, and magic.
Was I cross at my mother when I found out Father Christmas wasn’t real? Did her lying to me destroy her parental trustworthiness? No. There was a sense of sadness losing Santa, but I would not want little me to have truth over hope, over magic.
Children are growing up so fast these days (oh god I am my mother). I want my boy to believe in Jack Frost, sea monsters, that he could get a letter from Hogwarts. That the sky is blue because it is the sun’s favourite colour.
We also tell our children not to tell lies. Does that make me a hypocrite? Is it wrong that I choose what lies are right and what are wrong? Good or bad? Perhaps I think with my heart and not with my head. Miracle on 34th Street is one of my most beloved films, in it is a quote, ‘better a lie that brings a smile, than a truth that brings a tear.’
I admit I tell my son lies. Lies to spark his imagination, lies that bring him fun, excitement and belief.
Do you believe in magic?
I have friends, parents that are anti Santa. That’s their choice and I have no argument with it. This post isn’t about bribing kids to be good and using Santa as an excuse. This is about everything make believe; fairies, sea monsters, magic creatures.
Santa might not be real, fairies may not be real…but those childhood memories are very much real. Fairy tales are youth and joy. A child’s imagination is a powerful and unique thing. Disbelief in magic may result in my son becoming a politician. I would rather he lived in a tree.
Childhood lasts for the briefest moment. It is an inherently magical time, an enchanted place. Colours are brighter, time slower. It is not perfect, but rainbows are chased and everything is mysterious. I will try and make it last as long as possible.
What do you tell your children? Lies or truth? Do you believe in fairies?
I do. I do.