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In which we believe in make-believe

I mourn Fairyland. 

I mourn for the ones that will never know the magic of playing mermaids by an old lake shore, drawing out elaborate sagas of the life aquatic on the rocky beach, slipping in and out of water, convinced of a glittery tail. For the fairy dances in the starlight, for the bonfire sparks that conjure magic-seeking-eyes and bellows of “ABRA-CADABRA!”

I mourn for the loss of the words dryad and pixie. For the loss of the every-day magic of lucky horseshoes, fables, folk tales, Santa Claus and starry-eyes dancing in the twilight of an old field, convinced that it is a palace hall.

I mourn for make-believe.  For those that aren’t climbing mountains or conquering kingdoms or making rocket ships out of cardboard boxes. For those that can’t keep themselves busy without something in hand or step-by-step-for-having-fun-instructions to follow.

It’s a very real world these days. (And the parts that aren’t real are the wrong kind of make-believe –  video game war or social media playtime.) We live with the dust of reality clinging to our dreams, weighed down and far from delight and wonder, entrenched in boredom or quiet desperation, bad news and tragedy.

And then there are those of us of a faith-y kind of thing, the ones that don’t want to tell fables and fairytales because then what if it makes our kids think that Jesus is like Santa Claus?

So we keep small ones tied to a sober path – either on purpose or on circumstance – dealing only in
cold
hard
facts.

Facts be damned. (Even though it seems that the facts are rather on the side of make-believe.)

But the fact is this: you only get to believe – really truly believe – in Fairyland for a short time. Only children know the way (I can go a bit down the path by memory – if I try hard to forget that I have a mortgage) and as long as they have the way clear, oh, send them down that path with peace. Even if they didn’t develop problem solving skills, imagination, creativity, social skills and critical thinking (but they do) though make-believe, they’d still be having fun.

Remember fun? Fun just for the sake of having fun.

Let them have make-believe, let them have fairies and dryads, magic spells and mermaids, legends and folk talks, queens and princesses, warriors and poets (aren’t poets make-believe? they don’t really exist anymore, do they?) for as long as their birthright allows. Unplug and send them to the borders of freedom.

The farther I get from my childhood, the more thankful I am for the magic, for adult eyes that somehow still see everyday wonder with gratitude started in small faces.

I’m out walking with my tinies and we’re in the forest. I say, “Keep an eye out for fairies. This forest feels enchanted.”

And just like that - their eyes light up. See? They have the soul passport firm in hand still, those kids-these-days.

Magic.

Image source.

post signature

faith, parenting, tinies
  • Rachel

    This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve ever written. I fully intend to read my little ones fairy tales, teach them the wonders of Hogwarts and Neverland and Narnia and Middle Earth and Wonderland…tell them stories of things make-believe, while still teaching them that Jesus Christ is true and real. <3

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Exactly – never even touched on all of the fantastic fantasy literature available!

  • http://sortacrunchy.net SortaCrunchy

    You’ve been reading Walking on Water, right? I think L’Engle touches on this, the idea that we walk so closely to the unseen when we are children. And I think about the make-believe of my childhood and some things that happened that were eerie and … I’m just going to say it – supernatural. Some things, actually, that I’ve never even told my parents. Little secrets I hold close to my heart still. And I’m so glad there were no grown-ups there to explain it away with facts and explanations.

    I don’t and I won’t keep my children tied to the cold hard facts. We do make-believe, too. God is big enough to reveal Himself in all of His Truth as they grow into Him. And besides, it takes some flight of fancy to have faith, right? Like a child.

    Your heart and my heart and so intertwined. Thank you for speaking my thoughts always with such eloquence.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, I finished it a few weeks ago. You’re right, she does handle the same idea (do you want to write about her views on how we’ve dumbed-down vocabulary? Please DO!) And yes, secrets, delightful, kid-secrets are so lovely – I still have a few tucked away just for me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pzy001 Tabitha Schultz

    Love love.

  • Canita

    I love this.  It delights my soul to hear my daughter exclaim “Mama!  The fairies were here!”  Hurray for make believe!  What a great way to start my day….thanks, Sarah!

  • Bree

    I love this, too. Just yesterday I was watching a Beth Moore video in which she talks about a book signing she did with children who were all dressed up as princesses and knights. She says that it struck her how RIGHT it was for them to dressed as royalty, with the attitude that these were their normal clothes and everything else just costumes. We will do make-believe as long as possible, because God forbid somewhere along the way my kids forget that they are indeed royalty. 

    An artist I love, Brian Andreas: http://www.storypeople.com/storypeople/WebStory.do?action=Show&storyID=1029  

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Very cool! Thanks for passing that link along, Bree.

  • mundanemusings

    My kids are HUGE on imagination and make believe. Chip and I not so much – it’s just not how we were wired. But we work hard to cultivate it in our kids. And have fun doing it. We fight dragons, fly with fairies, soar with the birds, etc…  We have a couple of creatives with our kids – always working with an idea or a new stories. Our youngest boy told us just yesterday (he’s only 6), “Mom, I just wake up with ideas. And I can never wait to get going on them!” Which is why he’s up and ready to go at 8am or earlier.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Oh, bless him! He would get on like a house on fire with my two older ones.

  • http://theoutdoorwife.com Nish

    Oh this is good. SO good. Long live & three cheers to fairyland. And may we always find small reminders when it seems to have gone missing. 

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Ah, that’s it, isn’t it? The sad day when fairyland is missing and then, small markers so that you realise, it’s still there, after all. 

  • lutherliz

    Some of us with the faith-y sort of things still firmly believe in the magic of the world in fairy land.  Thanks for the good reminders!

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Absolutely – they’re not mutually exclusive, are they?

  • Katie

    I love it!

    I still am not convinced that there isn’t a door to another world hidden in the garden wall, if only I could turn around fast enough to catch it.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Love that! Me, too….

  • http://simply-rea.blogspot.com Rea

    This reminds me that I need to go bury more ‘fairy jewels’ in the sandbox. OK, so he figured out that mom is the one who buried them, but while he’s digging them up he’s thinking ‘buried treasure’.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Love that! Oh, for more grandparents that keep the fairies and the make-believe alive! That’s a fun idea to do at a sandbox at the playground actually…

  • http://twitter.com/ksteve85 Kari S.

    This made me tear up. Great post. Thank you.

  • Sarah Simpson

    I referenced you in my blog. Hope that’s ok. :)

    http://allaboutaislynn.blogspot.com/2011/07/yay-blogging.html

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Of course – such a compliment – thank you, Sarah!

  • Sarah Simpson

    I referenced you in my blog. I hope that’s ok. :)

    http://allaboutaislynn.blogspot.com/2011/07/yay-blogging.html

  • brenda

    hmmmm…reminded me of a christmas eve 30 odd years ago on the way home from my moms with our little boys…all the excitement of the eve when suddenly my 5 year old yelled at the top of his voice.”.SANTA AND HIS REINDEER, LOOK LOOK” and the 4 year old brother yelled equally as loud ,that” YES I SEE THEM”  and the 2 year old brother asked “where?” and his big brothers both pointed upwards to the sky and yes sir i am sure i saw them as well !!! As a family we all enjoy this story to this very day and we share it with the grandkids now…my 5 year old grandaughter loves this story and is teaching me a little about make believe and my little boys think i go on the best adventures..in my bedroom we make the best mountains to climb which take us to different lands.(this never would of happened with my own boys as that would be to messy …times are a changing)!!

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      What a great story, Brenda! I love that!

  • http://queenlucythevaliant.blogspot.com/ Lucy The Valiant

    Love this!! I agree wholeheartedly!!

  • http://thereisatimeunderheaven.blogspot.com/ Manda

    This is beautiful… and I’m sitting here mourning my youth, in which I didn’t imagine much.   I do however give thanks to God that I can live through my  wonderfully imaginative girls of mine.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Amen.

  • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

    I love that you said, “Keep an eye out for fairies.” What child wouldn’t love to make-believe that? So fun!

    That being said, my girls do know fact from fiction. They know that santa and fairies and fiery breathing dragons aren’t real…but we still do like to pretend. :)

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, we do that, too. 

  • rachieannie

    My dream is to be like LM Montgomery, one who never stopped believing, and so filled her writing with her very belief that it takes me to the edge of a beautiful fairy world.