One of the very best parts of spending all day with children is being reminded of the magic that surrounds them. As a past middle aged woman, as a grandmother, I am far removed now from the wondrous days of make believe.
But when I watch the children playing in my house, I am pulled right back into that magical pretend world, whether I’m ready to be there or not.
Today was the perfect example of how children move effortlessly between reality and play.
Today I had my two grandchildren here. Ellie is about three and half, and her brother John in halfway between one and two. They play pretty well together when the game is purely pretend. Ellie will be sitting there for a moment, then she’ll suddenly turn to me and say, “I’m Elsa! You’re Anna.” And off we go into the land of “Frozen.” Johnny will happy jump around and follow us through the house in his relatively undefined role of “Olaf.”
But two days a week our little drama club is pushed up a notch when our friend Ella is here. Ella is a wise, mature four year old. She understands all of the subtle nuances of pretend play.
When Ellie announces that she is “Elsa”, her friend doesn’t even bat an eye. “I’m a kitty”, she will announce. “Elsa has a new kitty.”
Because they are little ones, and because their magic has no need for reality, Ellie might respond by saying, “I’m the kitty’s Mamma!” Elsa will be instantly forgotten, and the magic will simply shift.
It’s so gloriously empowering to watch them at play. As they move from scene to scene, I can almost see the world that they are creating.
“The Momma kitty is sick!” one will wail, “She is at the kitty hospital!” And as the Momma kitty collapses in a dramatic heap, I swear that I can see the pristine white walls of the kitty hospital around her. I feel the anguish as her “baby kitty” runs into the hospital room with a desperate “Miaow!!!!”
I imagine the world around the kids as a series of beautiful chalk drawings, forming miraculously from the words that the girls share. “We are running on the beach!” means that the world around them is filled with the colors of the sand and the sea. “The baby kitty is sleeping in her bed.” makes that world melt and shift and turn itself into a quiet cozy room.
As the children see those magical worlds, they let me see them, too.
I am so grateful to the little ones who share my days. I am so thankful that at the not-so-tender age of 62, I am still able to feel and see the magic.