Yesterday my daughter brought home a…well, I’m not entirely sure what it was. It was like a tiny leaf all rolled up, but it wasn’t a leaf. It was completely enclosed. Her friend told her that it was a fairy cocoon. Whoever touched it, the fairy belonged to. This was explained to me in great detail. You cannot even give them as gifts, because when the fairy hatches, it’ll fly back to whoever picked it up first. My oldest daughter, Peyton, who is seven, picked one up and brought it home. She explained how important it was, and that the fairy needed a nice home. So it began.
With a little digging, I found a shoe box and a few pieces of cardboard and let her get to work. She built a bed, a couch, drew pictures on post-it notes to decorate (after coloring aka painting the walls), and of course the fairy needed books, so she wrote a few short stories, stapled them together, and laid them on the floor for her. She even wrote on the outside “The Fairy House,” should anybody else be confused about whose house it truly was. The light in her eyes was priceless, and this came after a particularly rough patch her and I have been having.
She is very much like me. Too much in fact. Because of this, she has a love of electronics: iPhones, iPods, computers, Television, tablets, the list can go on. I’ve noticed however, that she spends a lot of time with these things. Too much in fact. Lately I’ve been cutting back on the time she’s been allowed to watch TV, or play with any of the other devices. She doesn’t like this, and she sees it as punishment. I can understand that, but I truly believe it’s important. It’s important for her to learn to play with her toys and use her imagination. It’s important for her to learn to create. I never had all the gadgets growing up. I had dirt, and skipping ropes, and some roller blades. I had to make the fun happen. I understand kids now and days grow up differently than my generation did, but I think there are valuable lessons to be learned by creating your own entertainment and not looking to someone else to do it for you. This is all to say I was thrilled to see her excitement in something that wasn’t powered by electricity, but by her mind! I had to capitalize on this. And so it continued.
After I tucked her in, I carefully split open this leaf-shell thing she had brought home. Once it had a nice little cut in it, I pulled it open, tore the edges slightly so it looked as though something had broke out of it, and laid it back upon the fairy’s cardboard bed (which Peyton had lined in tissue paper for style and comfort). I then went through the disaster zone known as the craft bin, found a glue stick and some glitter, and went to work. I wrote “Thank You!” and drew a smiley face with the glue stick, then doused it with glitter. I sprinkled more within the house, and opened the books to make it look like she had read them. As a clean freak, the next part was difficult for me, but completely worth it to pull off a wonderful surprise and add fuel to the fire which is a growing imagination. I had already poked holes in the surface of the box for her to ‘breath,’ and since we seemingly forgot to build her a door, I tore a hole in the roof where the fairy got out. I then proceeded to sprinkle glitter all over the counter, some on the floor, and a small path in the direction the fairy had left. And then I left a dollar beneath the broken shell of her cocoon.
In my house, at 6:30am, you might have thought there was an intruder, or perhaps a little girl had just seen her most-wanted gift by the fireplace on Christmas day. She screamed and rambled and ran around the house with excitement. Such excitement, in fact, that she spoke too fast for me to understand. It was incredible, inspiring, and reminded me that even though we butt heads sometimes on how much TV is too much, those struggles can be worth it for the magic that can be created elsewhere.
Sacred Cities, my current WIP, took a bit of a turn last week and I haven’t written since. I realized I had to cut about 30k-40k words and take a different direction. Things weren’t working the way they were supposed do, and I refused to acknowledge that I was heading in the wrong direction. I denied it for longer than I should have. So I took a break, letting the new direction I had planned marinate in my mind. After seeing all this magic within my child’s eyes, it reminded me what it’s like to pick up a new book and dive into a new world. It reminded me what real magic really is.
Having to scrap 40k words is depressing. Especially when you were over three-quarters done your book. But this reminded me how worth it things can be. It might be painful, occasionally dreary and completely anti-fun, but the end result can be amazing. Sometimes you have to walk through the mud and battle your way through the brush to get to the oasis. So if you’re in that place where things seem difficult, or something is frustrating you, just remember that the journey isn’t always perfect, but the destinations you get to visit can be.
Don’t believe me? A fight over television, iPad, and computer time can turn into a shoe box and some glitter that has your child screaming with excitement. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.