A few days ago Hope and I were in the car listening to a podcast. We were chuckling about the show, and then it ended and we listened to some of the commercials before the next podcast started. One of the commercials was about a new podcast on the magic of childhood.
I was only halfheartedly listening to the commercials. I caught the thought and let it slip through my mind.
But Hope was listening.
“There is no magic in childhood. None.”
She immediately had my attention. I didn’t know what to say. All I could manage to say was, “Huh?”
“Magic? What’s magical about childhood? Nothing,”
We sat quietly at a light.
I quickly thought about all of her young years and the things she endured. I felt her trauma in my soul.
She didn’t say anything else, and I wasn’t sure what to say next. So, I didn’t say anything at all. It was one of the few times during our time together when I was completely stunned to silence. Usually, I can come up with something, but I had nothing. And I was just overwhelmed by the absence of magic in my daughter’s childhood.
I understand how she concluded that the magic of childhood was nothing but a farce. It breaks my heart. I have these fond memories of growing up. I remember my parents love. I remember birthday cakes and playing in the street with neighborhood kids. I remember when they took me and my sisters to Disney World and numerous other family trips. I remember feeling safe and loved. I remember so many little details that are clear to me know but seemed magical then.
I know that there are some memories that Hope has with her first family that are happy memories, but the number of those moment to moment memories are dwarfed by memories of instability, fear, and profound grief. The latter so crushing that she can barely see the good stuff in her mind. And she can’t separate those memories and just erase the bad ones. She has figured out how to reconcile the bad stuff; she can’t partition it to try to create some magic.
The magic of childhood is lost to her.
I wish I could change it all for her. I can’t, but I wish to hell like I could.
I have spent a lot of time and resources on helping Hope heal. I didn’t realize that I was also trying to create some magic in the waning years of Hope’s adolescence. I try to give her big and small experiences that will stick with her. I’m hoping they are special, magical, but knowing that she doesn’t think there’s any magic in childhood just makes me feel so sad.
I wonder will she still feel this way years from now when she has her own child? Did my silence, my failure to offer some wisdom about childhood magic, just reaffirm her grief? What can I do to make magic for her? Can I still create some magic for her?
I honestly don’t know what was I supposed to say in that moment that would validate her but offer a different narrative. I still don’t know what I was supposed to say to that declaration. I just don’t know what to say about there being no magic in childhood.
February 17th, 2017 at 11:46 am
Well you didn’t pushback which would have been hands down the wrong thing. Silence may be validation at the time of the gravity of the words.
February 17th, 2017 at 11:41 pm
Would it hurt her too much if you acknowledged that she was robbed – but that there is magic, and between the two of you you can figure out how to find it now? It’s not limited to childhood. I’m nearly 60 and there’s still magic, when I look for it.
February 18th, 2017 at 6:50 am
I think silence was probably best. I think showing her magic rather than talking about it will be my goal. It’s been a tough few days.
February 19th, 2017 at 2:16 am
Oh yes, at the time silence was probably best. I was thinking, if the subject were to come up again, then acknowledging her loss would be the way to go. That said, actions are definitely more significant than words – and sounds to me you’ve pretty much got the action side of things covered… 🙂
February 18th, 2017 at 7:39 am
I don’t think you were supposed to say anything. I think your silence was validation for her. By not arguing the point you were simply acquiescing to her truth. Yes, she did not have magic. Yes, those years were filled with trauma and grief. And yes, you will always listen to her, not judge. Good job, mom