Back in October I wrote a post where I described the absolute stunning beauty of watching my child discover Disney World. We actually go at least once a year to that Magic Kingdom, and each year as my children grow and recognize their heros and heroines, there is a little more joy to have. For while I know that Cinderella is probably just some college girl, hot and sweaty under all the makeup, and tired of trying to sign her name with those ridiculous gloves, for my child it is the real life meeting of dreams. The dreams that there really are happy endings, and the dreams that there really is beauty in things that you can see, and things that are only sung about.
For my five year old son, who is much more into bad guys than princes, it is neat to see the characters, but there isn’t and has never been an overwhelming urge to run full tilt to those characters. Get Spiderman there and that may change. My son loves to simply take it all in, never concentrating on one aspect over the other. He certainly likes the rides, and he loves to take his daddy on the water rides to watch the man get soaked. And of course, there is nothing better than being able to see his daddy’s polka dot underwear peeking through his soaked shorts. (I personally pack the polka dots just for this reason).
But it is my three year old daughter that makes me tear up. Not because she is younger, not because she is a girl, but because she has this ability to throw herself into the joy of it all, the magic of it all, like very few people big or small actually can. We will literally be stopped on the side of the street because people respond to the wonder in my daughter’s eyes. She sees each character as a personal friend, whether they are on a float or standing next to her. She sees each detail, not as a painting painted to look perfect, but as a true place in the very dreams she lives at night. The world for my daughter is gorgeous, exciting and full of magic; and never so much as when she is in a world designed to give it to her.
In October I wrote about my own cynism being tested by the joy on my child’s face. And I imagine that will happen again. It is hard to be steeped in reality when the dreams of your children are surrounding you. It is hard to be careful or silent, when the laughter of your children is so loud. And it is hard to remember that next week I will be sitting in this same chair, living my same life, when I know that for one weekend I will be trailing behind the bouncing feet of my children.
And I will be behind them. I won’t need to lead, and I won’t need to scream and I won’t even need to remind. Because when I give to my children, they simply give me more than I ever knew I needed. When they laugh and smile, when they find wonder, and when they give to me joy they make all the struggles, all the trials worth it. It is such a basic concept of give and take, that it would be so easy to overlook. But it is there. And it is wonderful.
I don’t expect my children to give this to me; for that would be putting pressure that they don’t deserve to drown in. Instead, it is given and taken freely; out of love. I will not point out to my children what it is they are giving me, I will not make it real. I will not demand their happiness to find my own, and I will not dream only through them. But I will take the lessons they are teaching me, and I will take moments of peace through their joy.
And at the end of the day, if I can give them half of what they give me; that will make all the days of fear, all the seconds of shear terror, and the screaming and yelling worth it. Because they give me such joy, I will teach them how to be great. Because they have given so selfishless their love, I will teach them how to survive. And because they give me moments of perfection, I will teach them that this perfection comes from deep within them; it is unique only to them, and it makes them as worthy as they could ever hope to be.