We Are Magic
He’d completed the loop from kitchen to dining room at least five times; all skinny body and dark mop of hair, he mumbled to himself and moved his hands at odd intervals, clearly directing some far-off and invisible action.
George, what are you doing? Why are you wandering around the house?
I’m daydreaming, Mommy. I wander whenever I daydream.
What are you daydreaming about?
In one of my clearest memories of childhood I am hanging upside down on the back of the sofa. All alone in the living room, the scratchy brown fabric rubbed at my five year old legs, I had pulled the insulated drapes shut and the room was dark. I was Luke Skywalker and this was the Wampa cave. If I concentrated hard enough, if I opened my mind enough like you were supposed to, I could use the force to summon my light saber from the depths of the brown shag carpet to free myself from the icy prison. In my remembering this is how I spent most of 1980. And though it never actually worked I never fully gave up hope that one day it would.
Childhood is like this: we move through the possibilities. I long ago decided age four was my favorite. Four year olds are remarkably capable small humans. They move and talk like older children but they are better because they still have magic. On the way home from dinner a few weeks ago my four year old suggested that when we get home we build a dragon out of some cardboard we had in the basement.
We’re going to build a dragon and it’ll be great because then it can be our pet dragon and it can protect the house from robbers and stuff.
In her talking it became clear that this was to be a real dragon. Not some fun pretend dragon we would play with. It would exist. It would be our pet. Her older brother and sister tried to break the news to her that this was impossible. We could maybe make a dragon but it would not be alive. She screamed. I told them to leave her alone and they did.
My son who daydreams about spaceships is eight now and real life is starting to get to him. He has always spoken passionately about how one day when he is grown he will have his own private island. To get groceries and supplies he will take a boat to the next island over. His island will have a mansion and a volcano he can activate whenever he chooses. He was describing it again recently when he stopped mid sentence and looked at me.
Mommy, I’m worried. What if it doesn’t happen?
He is older now. He is learning how things work. That magical sight that allows him to see with certainty every possibility as a real possibility will soon fully fog and all he’ll be left with is reality. He was clearly troubled.
Don’t even think about that, sweetie. If you want it to happen it will happen, I’m sure of it.
I did not lie to him. I fully meant it. He is eight and he needs to know that his island will always be real. That spaceships and cardboard dragons must always be things we can touch. That the light saber will one day work itself free of the deep shag of the carpet and find itself solidly in hand to free us from the prison at last.