Has Childhood Lost its Charm?


It really ticks me off that movies have taken the magic out of everything sacred in childhood- the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus… why does Hollywood insist of ruining everything that requires true imagination? I don’t think it is lying to children to pretend a bunny left boiled eggs all over the place, I think it’s more like inspiring them to dream the impossible dream, to imagine the unimaginable, to think the unthinkable, but no, some guy in a suit figures his version of the Tooth Fairy will bring in $14 billion so hey, money is always more important that dreams, right?

I don’t think anyone would disagree that the innocence of childhood is lost by 1st grade these days. Kids are smarter, it’s true! They are learning faster and faster, they master computer programs like pouring a bowl of cereal, and yet in all of that, they’ve lost some of the magic and joy of just being a kid.  Witty sarcasm is quickly replacing sparkly imagination, and catching fireflies is no longer what little boys sitting in their rooms waiting to do.

No, it’s all Xbox 360 and Playstation Network. And my kids are no exception. I’ll never forget the call I got in 2nd grade asking me if I could help Dylan understand that it’s not nice to smash a little girl’s dreams. She had proclaimed that she was building a tree house, and it was going to reach all the way to Heaven. Of course, being pragmatic as he is, Dylan set her straight. “The clouds are much higher than the trees, and Heaven is far above the clouds, so there’s no way for your tree house to reach Heaven.” Did I mention she planned to have tea parties with her dead grandma is this tree house to Heaven? Yeah, good job son!

He may not live in my purse anymore, but he’s still around! I’m still waiting for him to make me LUCKY!!

I can promise my kids didn’t get that from me. I was forever swimming around like a mermaid, planning out my 3 wishes just in case I happened upon them. In fact, at one point in my 3rd grade existence I used to challenge myself to create the most complex sentences possible in an effort to cram 3 wishes into one, thereby multiplying the number of wishes actually granted. Clever, wasn’t I? I carried my lucky CareBear in my purse forever, and instead of cleaning my room, I often daydreamed of the moment when I would become Samantha, from BeWitched, and I could crinkle my nose and see it all done. And on the days I didn’t want to be Samantha, Marry Poppins it was, with spoonfuls of sugar and umbrellas that helped me fly. In fact, I am still guilty of wishing my car would have the soul of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and take me for a real ride!

So tell me, is it only little girls who fill their heads with these fanciful thoughts? Have little boys always been out to squash them? Or is imagination something of a dying breed?? Yesterday, in the pool, I noticed my little boy finally got a few freckles. His siblings all have a few freckles, and when he was little he used to be sad because I always called Dylan’s freckles “angel kisses”. He used to wait for the angels to come and kiss his face in his slumber…

So when I looked at his sunkissed cheeks and said “oh my goodness, you’ve been kissed by angels!” He let me know real quick, “they’re not angel kisses, they’re diseases, FROM THE SUN!”

What can I say to that? Hmmmmm…. how about “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”…. or maybe: “Lighten up kiddo, imagination may not make the world go ’round, but it can make the world a Merry-go-Round!”

Now excuse me, I think there may be a mermaid at the bottom of this pool, I think I will go check it out…


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5 responses »

  1. It took me a few moments to realize that I had an imagination once, too. I guess mom let me down easy about the tooth fairy and Easter Bunny, but I held onto Santa and the dream of my dad coming to see me the longest. The only problem I have with my now-jaded teenage girls, is that they treat the idea of God and Jesus in the exact same category as Santa and basically scoff at me and treat me like a deluded child for believing in God. Nothing I say or do changes it.So, I wonder if I will be held to account for THAT in the last day, after I taught them as best I could about God and tried to live that out. I guess seeing their parents divorce made nothing real to them, nothing permanent or believable, and for that, we are to blame. And that’s the world we live in. It takes serious effort to block out the harsher side of ‘reality’ and just raise happy kids. That means filtering the constant bombardment of bad news from TV, and not constantly talking about serious world or personal problems in front of the kids. So, yes, we need to shelter our kids a bit more. On the other hand, our kids are the future. We need to prepare them to be stewards of the world.

    For some poor kids, imagination is the only escape from the hell their lives really are. Maybe the idea of parents who aren’t stoned and hitting them, or a decent meal is a true fantasy for many.

    I still see boys, even more than girls, using wild imaginations and living in fantasy-land all the time. I think it’s great! But that great imagination doesn’t have to be confined to fairy-tale fantasy and impossible stories. I am OK with the kids using their imaginations to build in their own way- if they use the computer to construct ecologically healthy “Sims” biospheres, or to solve ‘fake’ world problems, or even build bridges with Legos whether online or not, it’s still all good. And right now, the world needs imaginative problem solvers more than Candyland. No, I don’t think kids need to worry about solving world hunger at ages 4-12, but the thing about imagination is that it should be unique to the user. If kids are just buying our traditional old concepts, they are not really using their own minds to create and explore.

    Our job is just to point the way to using imagination- not to dictate the direction it takes.
    Great post, too! You’ve given me a lot to think about!

  2. I totally don’t agree.

    To me,it is lying to kids.It doesn’t have that appeal of folklore as in some societies.This whole Easter and Christmas crap just comes off to me as ingenuity and misleading kids.

    • For some reason your comment was hiding in my spam queue, and I don’t normally even look in there. Guess I was truly bored! LOL. I don’t take the whole Easter bunny thing too seriously, I just think there’s no harm in having a little fun with it. As for Christmas, well, I believe in the magic of Christmas. I know Santa Claus, he eats dinner here sometimes! 😉

  3. I agree, it’s hard to keep the magic alive these days, but I think it’s possible. Kids want to believe in the implausible. So do adults. It’s up to us to be willing to stretch the limits of our imagination and be playful enough to say “What if…?” with enough conviction to make make-believers out of all of us. 🙂

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