Friday night, we went out to eat as a family. We chose a simple place without waiters to drag out the event. Our kids ate good, and we were finishing up when the boys started to get rowdy. The attention span of a 2 and 5 year old at a restaurant is limited.
They started pestering each other. Luckily, it was a noisy, casual place and they weren’t really bothering anyone except us. At that moment, I looked up and saw a police officer coming toward the door that we just happened to be sitting right by.
“Look! Here comes a policeman to arrest you if you don’t stop hitting each other! You better be careful. He doesn’t like little kids misbehaving in restaurants.” I said jokingly.
My kids froze. They stared in anticipation as that police officer walked up to the door casually, and came inside for his cup of coffee, oblivious to the three petrified children at our table.
My husband and I looked at each other like, “It worked!” and laughed. My 7 year old quickly caught on that the policeman was not there to arrest anyone, but the 5 year old was still unsure, and the 2 year old still had his eyes locked on the policeman across the room. He started pointing at him and was convinced, from what I could tell, that this policeman’s only goal in life was to arrest small children misbehaving in restaurants.
When he casually walked out the door, we said, “Well, I guess he’s going to the next restaurant to look for more kids misbehaving since you guys stopped acting crazy.”
5 minutes later, they were acting crazy again.
I found it so endearing when I gasped, “Look! He’s coming back!” and my youngest gasped, whipping his head around to look out the window, and got the cutest look of surprise/terror on his face fully expecting to see the policeman that wasn’t there.
And, yes, I know it’s not good to lie to your children.
But, my husband and I had such a fun little moment there. Not just because we were scaring our kids, but because a little memory was made for all of us. Sure the 2 year old may not remember it, but my oldest got a laugh, and for a moment, all was peaceful, and fun, and happy.
I realized later the magic in that moment. How children believe so much of what you tell them. How, as a parent, you can craft a magical moment out of pretty much anything. Even something as torturous as going out to eat with three small kids. Because children are magical.
While, I hate the elf on the shelf shenanigans as much as the next mom. I think kids are magical enough all on their own. Childhood is magic.
I think the problem is that the parents have lost the ability to see the magic.
All we have to do is look into our kids eyes, hearts, and minds, and it will be there, pinterest crafts or not.
The other day, my daughter sat in our tree in the front yard and wrote a poem and drew a picture. Friends were running around below, but what she wanted in that moment was to dream about trees, and draw pictures. She did. And, I smiled at the magic in that moment. I saw it.
Yet, I get caught up too. I can slip into the trap of trying to create a magical moment for the kids. Like the other day when I decided to draw funny hats on the driveway and take pictures of the kids because I had seen it on pinterest. It was a simple, fun, summertime thing and I thought, “I can do that! So, we did.
The reality of it was so funny to me, though. I realized:
- A. The kids weren’t as excited about the idea as I was.
- B. I sucked at drawing hats (in my mind it was going to be amazing)
- C. It wasn’t all that magical.
Sure, it was funny, and FUN. They got a chuckle as I showed them their pictures. But, the real magic is that moment watching my daughter draw, sitting up in a tree. Teasing the 2 year old about being arrested. Or writing down something funny my 5 year old said this week: “Mommy, I think the only thing that would make my tummy feel better is playing the video game” when he was on day 1 of video game detox.
The childhood magic is right there if parents can just open their eyes. It is happening.
I’m as guilty as the next parent of missing the moments. Forgetting that they are just kids and just being makes life magical. They love walking around our little block, or playing soccer at a friend’s house past bedtime, or thinking about things their growing brains (and mine) don’t understand. Like when my 5 year old asked, “Is it ever daytime in space?” Ummmm….
Childhood is magical. No matter if you try to create it, or it just happens. It’s the parents that are missing it when it’s right in front of them. Try not to miss it. That’s what I’m trying not to do. And, with just a little bit of effort, I see it everyday.
Ana Lynn says
For some reason this post reminds me of my favorite book The Little Prince. Yes, the magic is there. Grown ups just have a hard time seeing it. :/ Long live our inner child!
Tamara Gerber says
Good one! Sometimes it takes a uniform to get some attention 😉
That video interview made me think… and realize where I come from: I do those things because I like it! I enjoy playing with the Elf on the Shelf, I enjoy throwing a theme party, I enjoy trying out cupcake recipes – if my little one shares my excitement (which he does for the time being), hooray! If one day he gets tired of it, I may still continue.
I totally agree that you should do what makes you happy, and not what you feel pressure to do. If you LOVE it…that’s awesome! I know lots of moms that do, and I think that’s totally perfect. 🙂
Nicola Young says
I once wrote a post questioning whether we should lie to our children. It was after I had made up an elaborate excuse for having forgotten to put a coin in exchange for my daughter’s tooth. I concluded that it was ok, as it was keeping the magic alive for the little ones and that it won’t last forever so we might as well embrace it. There will come a time when our kids won’t listen to or believe anything we say (probably!), so we might as well have some fun while we still can.
Susan Maccarelli says
I agree – the magic moments are sort of the ones you don’t try for vs. the ones you plan or try to recreate from a pin. We have a cabin in the mountains and took the kids this weekend. We roasted marshmallows, played outside, took a walk, had movie night with popcorn. Their favorite part? Going in the crawl space with daddy when we got there to turn things on. Seriously??
hahaha! Kids are so weird. And, awesome.
Wait..is it ever daytime in space??
I love this. I think there is fun and magic in just being kids – of course kids in the right environment of love and support. Obviously I wish love, fun and magic on all! I think by instinct, they are such wonderful believers.
I’m not a crafter but I had a heck of a time creating a Magic Mailman story last week. It totally worked for my daughter!
I love so many things about this post! The cop scare moment is delightful; and the description of your kids misbehaving in the restaurant (I’ve never found a cop in that moment – how wonderful you did). But the point re: many ordinary moments being extraordinary for and with kids – agreed. Putting yourself in their mindset of very young kids and “playing” there for a bit is wonderful. My mother has this whole elaborate imagination game that continues on from babysit to babysit that she plays with my eldest about how she is a baby tiger. It’s totally involved and adorable and intricate and complicated in all the detail. Then there are the days she pretends to be me, or her sister, or we all have to wear pink, or be superheros, or whatever. And yesterday? We gardened and she adopted a worm. If you roll with it, it really is fun.
The song is beautiful too. I have girls, but am about to become Godmom to my new nephew, and I got a little teary with the singing of this. Really beautiful.
Yes. The song kills me. And, how fun to pretend so much! I love that. 🙂
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says
Such lovely advice! I often forget to look for the magic -like tonight when I was shopping with my girls and they were fighting and driving me nuts.
Funny story – Once, when I was in carpool line to get my two oldest and my then 3 year old was climbing all over the car, a police car came and parked near the entrance of the school to help with traffic. I told her that if she didn’t sit down she and Mommy would get in trouble with the police man. It totally backfired. For the next couple of years, she was terrified of policemen! It took me a long time to re-teach her that policemen are helpful and only “get you” if you are a really bad person! 🙂
Ha! I know. When we were doing that, I was worried that my little guy would be afraid too. But, we made sure to tell them that you only REALLY go to jail if you’re really really bad. Hopefully they won’t be terrified.
Such a great post. Children are magic. No need to look far to find it! Love your use of the policeman to motivate good behaviour. Use what you can 😉
Exactly! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
1. In Hispanic culture, we have a bad habit of telling kids that something we want them to not touch is “hot” or “caca.” Talk about confusing.
2. Magic just has to happen, and when it does, you go with the flow, whether it’s sidewalk chalk, adopted worms or a crawl space.
3. If we’re lucky – some of that kid magic rubs off on us, too.
I totally agree!! And, I speak Spanish after serving an LDS mission for my church in California. I totally remember that about the latinos. So funny.
Too funny, and I love those crazy, unplanned, magical moments! 🙂 I happen to love those hat drawing pictures. Impressed me! I can’t listen to the song you posted right now because my house is SO FREAKING LOUD right now. The lyrics make me tear up, though!
OK…well, promise me you’ll listen. It is even more beautiful when you hear it.
Kate (Shakespeare's Mom) says
What a really beautiful post. The same hat-picture thing has happened to me before, too. My kids love the simple stuff, just like I do, and it’s only when I try to force something Pinterest-y on them that we all lose sight of magic and spontaneity.
I know! Dang pinterest. I love/hate it.