Little N is almost three now, and she’s really starting to understand more and more every day. She plays Cut The Rope on her Nook, she has her computer, and all sorts of little techo-weenie stuff. She has the normal toys, she just doesn’t care about them at all. An electronic family produces an electronic child I guess.
One of the things she has also learned is the concept of life and death. I didn’t plan for her to learn it quite so early in life, although it is an inevitable and unpleasant lesson we all must learn at some point. I think the basics were in her head due to the documentaries that we tend to watch, and when we were at the pet store it really hit her. At first she thought that the goldfish bobbing near the bottom was a little funny. Then two others came by and started taking some bites at him. That’s when she got it and her laughter turned into a terribly cry that I had never heard before. It broke my heart. Even if it needed to happen at some point, most of us try to shield our children for things for a long time. The innocence of youth is lost one goldfish at a time.
So, lately her biggest concern has been volcanos. Why volcanos? We have no idea. My wife is a homemaker, so we can’t blame it on childcare, and none of us can remember having a show or any other such thing on television. She even had a terrible dream that her grandpa was going to throw her into one. None of us can figure it out. It’s so damned strange.
For the last couple weeks she’s been gently pleading with me about keeping the volcanos away at bedtime. “No volcanos Daddy.” “No honey, no volcanos.” To combat this I took a recent gift from her grandmother (a crocheted pillow with an elephant head in one corner) and poked in her bed one night. I told her that the little elephant was made to protect her from volcanos. There would be no volcanos so we didn’t need to be afraid of them with the elephant next to her. If she got scared, all she needed to do was cuddle the elephant and it would all go away. Of course, this is an easy promise to keep because we’re just not in that kind of area right now. Our area used to be a super-volcano that has since migrated. Everywhere you look in our area, there is some form of lava rock. Jutting up out of a field, used for a foundation, and even some structures were built out of it in the 1920s and 1930s. Most of the five-hour drive to Yellowstone, and you can see the flows are much younger than where we live. Now that we’re done with the history lesson, let’s proceed.
This tactic of alleviating and channeling fear into the elephant pillow has worked like a champ. It has done exactly what it was supposed to do. I was thinking about it last night, and it was a small touch of magic. We had intent, there was an item involved and there were outward actions. Heck, there were even words involved when I explained what it was and what it did. If you look at it in its most basic form, it’s magic. If there was a volcanic eruption would it protect her? No way. The real part of it is that it has removed those fears from her.
People do this all the time for their kids. Then at some point, they take it away from them. To little N it works 100% the way it’s supposed to. There are no volcanos and no threat from them, and that’s it. I’m sure that some of you reading this blog (agree or disagree with it) have done some of the same things. Why do we take this away from them as they get older? They lose Santa (totally unsustainable, but a loss in their eyes), the elephant, and many other things they believe just because that’s the way they are. My wife was always told growing up that the auras and sensitivity she has wasn’t real. She suppressed it as hard as hard as she could until she met me. After about a year she told me and my reaction was just kind of neutral. I accepted it for what it was. I was still involved with the Catholic church at that point and I still accepted there were things out there that I didn’t understand.
I think that’s going to be one of the hardest things around here. Even if she accepts or even celebrates whatever she knows or can do, it’s going to receive a bad response her entire life. I just don’t want her to be ashamed or afraid of whatever beliefs she has, even if it is different from C and me. Heck, if she wants to be a main-stream religion, I’ll be glad she found a home there. Atheist with no occult orientation? Badass. I hope she challenges me on my beliefs, I hope she studies other religions and cultures as much as she can and just unsettles my own beliefs.
The thing that I do not want is to take that journey away from her, and I don’t want to let others take that away either. Disagreement? Fine. Ending up as a bit of an outcast? A shame, but acceptable. Calling everything bullshit and trying to take that belief away entirely? Piss off. Leave the elephant alone. Even if it seems silly in a couple of years, it doesn’t mean it never worked. It just means that the need for it went away. And last night while we were putting on her PJs, I gave her a kiss and told her to never let someone do that to her.
Perhaps I’m doing it right. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong. Either way, it will be her choice about her own beliefs.
I love little N, I love what I believe, and I will fight for her to the death.