A recent trip to Ikea found me harbouring murderous thoughts towards a 7 year old.
I’m a good person, honest, so let me explain. My 5 year old is the reincarnated soul of Buzz Lightyear, presently living in the body of Batman. Each day he retreats to Gotham and carries out his hero duties with aplomb. My fearless caped crusader protects the underdog, fights the baddies and always saves the day. A bit of a loner, Batman prefers to work alone. On occasions after carefully assessing the risks and deciding help is required, Robin: my 2 year old is called upon. I’m not much of a theatre goer but I love this daily show. On the edge of my Ikea chair, throwing Swedish meatballs down my throat like popcorn, I held my breath as the duo take on their nemesis: Joker. Enter 7 year old, stage left, “You know Batman isn’t real? He’s a comic character who first appeared in dectective comics in 1939.” I watched in horror as Gotham city walls crumble and imaginary capes float to the floor like feathers.
I was able to affirm and reassure my children after this incident, and normal daily showings have resumed. However, it got me thinking about the importance of imagination and innocence in childhood and how the window for this seems to be shrinking. A few nights later I found myself watching my oldest friend fret over her daughter’s belief in fairies. A modest and unassuming person, she is without doubt the best young mum I have the privilege of knowing. Unaware of her brilliance she was seeking advice on what to tell her 6 year old who had been told from a reliable source (a boy in her class), that fairies are “make believe”. With tears in her eyes and question marks bulging out of her temple I told her, Read Peter to her. Peter Pan. He’ll answer her questions.
Rouseau hit the nail on its head when remarking:
“Why rob these innocents of the joys which pass so quickly,”
Sadly every boy has to grow up, but why rush this wonderful stage? Not so long ago Childhood as a concept did not exist. Kids seen as miniature adults had to work hard to cast their original, innate sins. A revered and perhaps the most enviable of all stages of life, I feel this should be stretched and indulged.
There is such a pressure on young parents to have well behaved silent ninjas who are well versed and equipped for the big bad world. On a recent holiday with my children an older lady watched dissaprovingly as our monkeys tea party raised the roof in a café. With my stress levels also through the roof my 5 year old observed that his open baked potato was like a “Fagina”. My usual response to this would be to conduct a live autopsy with napkin surgical masks. Instead with two bespectacle eyes on me I shouted at my son. Appeasing our audience, confusing my son, and leaving me hoping that the old womans next shite was a hedgehog, with exema.
Its why I choose to let my weans be weans. Allowing them this magical time of blank slates, carefree days, imagining the impossible, inventing the incredible is so important in shaping who they become. They shouldn’t be interested in whats real and whats not. And we as parents shouldn’t worry about them being unprepared. So go easy on yourself. Applaud and encourage their performances. Teach them manners yes, but never refuse a place setting at the table for Henry Hoover. Its what I intend to do, and its why ill stand side by side with my god daughter, clapping my hands raw to revive all those fairies that met an early demise because of all you non believers.