I think the ages around 2-4 years old are imbued with the most special type of magic. Sure, magic flows through all stages of childhood, but the years around 2-4 hold something just a little bit extra special about them in my experience.
Our daughter is 7.5 years old and while she still lives very beautifully into a lot of the magic surrounding Festivals and other celebrations through our year, the intense ability to dissolve into and be swept away in that magical world of fantasy is starting to slowly fade. Sad? Maybe a tiny bit – our little girl is growing up and leaving those precious, innocent early childhood years behind – but it’s also exciting to see her grow and unfold into the next stage that she will blossom into… Even if that does come with all the challenges of dealing with emerging will, opinions, defiance and sass! (Hence I’ve just invested today in this book a friend recommended many years ago to navigate these times as peacefully as possible in a way that honours who she is becoming.) Amongst this time is naturally the questions that start to come about “Well, how does Saint Nicholas get inside? He can’t come down the chimney – there’s a grate over the top of the flue so that birds can’t nest in there” – “Mummy, is the Michaelmas dragon real or is it you that leaves the crystals out for us – I know it’s you Mummy (…but I’ll still be absolutely wowed when we do find the crystals in the grass and I’ll get totally swept up in the magic of believing that they are actually dragons tears!) Do dragons actually really exist, did they ever exist? Is there still dragons in the world today?” ….
It also comes with a beautiful stage where she helps to weave and create the magic for her younger brother. I think there is something special in being able to help create for another so many of those special moments that have formed wonder within your own early years. However she does still go through waves almost like passing in and out of a veil of belief. In her heart, I think she still wants to believe, it’s her soul I guess that is starting to question the logic behind some of the magic as she awakens just a little more into this Earthly world and life. She still wants ‘The Angels’ to leave her new books inside her pyjamas, ‘The Fairies’ to leave surprises in the garden and ‘The Sugar Sprite’ to come past the window at night and collect any candy for her sugar babies that the children happen to have been given. The stardust and tiny crystal sprinkles they find the next morning in place of the candy still bring that gleam of magic and wonder into her incarnating eyes. It’s an exciting time. I have an image of her spiritually standing on the edge of this place of ‘crossing over’ – part of her wants to step forward, but another part isn’t quite ready yet. I guess it’s the Nine Year Change starting to stir within her. The beginning of her ‘Crossing the Rubicon’. Chilli started with her change of teeth quite early, around 5.5 years old and on reflection, the Six Year Change really started to stir within her around 4.5 years old – so it would make sense that the beginnings of the Nine Year Change are, around 7.5 years old, starting to plant their seeds of change within her. I’ve also heard conversations between Steiner teachers and other Anthroposophically based professionals over the years that many hold the belief that children in today’s world are incarnating at a slightly quicker pace and often pass through the changes a little earlier than the ‘traditionally quoted’ ages.
This little piece of magic I am writing about here in this post was inspired by another of those stories that stays with me so vividly from those ‘Evenings with Ebba’ I’ve spoken about back at the Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School when Chilli was a wee bubba. I think there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Ebba told in great detail with all the magic that so naturally just lives within her words, the story of a little boy at her playgroup. Ebba had told a Winter story about snow. At the end of the story, she softly, quietly, magically and reverently blew a small wisp of fleece to each child – a snowflake! Well, that evening or early the next day she received a phone call from one of the parents in the group, her child was distraught. Where could the parent go to buy or find another of those ‘snowflakes’? Her son had lost the snowflake and was beside himself…. Ebba then explained what this ‘snowflake’ in fact was and the problem I assume was easily rectified by the mother and a little bit of magic.
Ebba told us this story to demonstrate how the reverence and the special quality we apply to our storytelling and in creating a sense of wonder, so magically inspires and permeates the child. How one tiny bit of simple wool roving could be imbued with so much specialness, so much character, magic and life. This all came from how this story had lived within Ebba herself and the reverence with which she had delivered not only the story but also the snowflake itself.
I love that Marlin is living so beautifully in that stage now of really ‘eating up’ and ‘living into’ all this childhood magic. It really is a special time for parent and child as well as older child and younger sibling. As I mentioned above, when the older child is able to be a part of helping to create that magic for their sibling, something very special happens for both children. One day when Marlin was a little unsettled about heading in to lay down for a nappy change, I spontaneously grabbed a little ‘lucky bean’ box off the children’s shelves. I looked around for something ‘special’ to put inside and this tuft of fleece that sits on his dressing table caught my eye. The tuft itself is quite special. It is the little tuft I quietly placed into his wee hand when he was a baby watching sheep shearing for the first time. He sat there ‘exploring’ with touch that piece of fleece for a good few hours. He nursed, layed in the camp chair, oohed and aahed at the sheep – the whole time grasping that wispy piece of fleece until it was placed into his pocket as we packed up to leave for the day. The fleece remained in his pocket for many months following and was rubbed around in that little pocket with those cute little bubba fingers every time his hand bundled in to hide from the cold. When I found the piece 6 or so months later (I’m sure it was possibly ‘later’ – a baby’s pockets are not something one often has to clean out) it was a sweet little soft felted pillow. It was lovely to have such a gorgeous keepsake of the first time he watched sheep shearing.
On the spot, as I brought this story together – I also recalled not only the story from Ebba, but also a sweet little story a friend here in Tasmania once told the Waldorf playgroup at Christmas time. A story of when the baby Jesus was born and the sheep who had come, offered a piece of fleece from over her heart to line the baby’s manger. Over the years, with the countless stories I have read, memorised, told and written myself, my ability to just weave stories out of thin air has somewhat improved. While I’m definitely no David Sewell McCann, I can normally bring together something sweet and magical, then and there if need be. The little box was hidden under a piece of fabric, I told Marlin I had a special story for him and for the duration of his nappy change, I told a simple little impromptu story that kept his undivided attention. The story was about a special piece of fleece that was filled with all the love that a mother has for her child – so much love squeezed into this tiny, special place. Once the nappy change was finished and I picked up an item of clothing to put back on him, there was the magic little box. Chilli chimed in with a special little gasp and said something along the lines of “I wonder what’s in there Marlin? Open it, it must be very special…” He carefully opened it and was delighted. The magic and wonder in his eyes and on his face were priceless. “oooooo” he softly says, while his attention is absolutely immersed in the moment. As he lay there engrossed in the magic of the moment with his fleece, he kept dropping it onto his chest and then frantically rummaging around to find it again – giggling and relieved when he found it. He’d hold it to his heart and place it carefully back into the box for safe keeping. He found a little pouch to carry the box around in and for days wherever he went, the little pouch went too – with the box that held the special fleece tucked safely down inside. If he was changed, the pouch was held tightly in his hand and slung back across him once he was dressed again. At night it hung on the bed post to be picked up again first thing in the morning as he climbed out of bed. He often carries around in this manner some special little pouch with a trinket inside that doesn’t leave his side. Something so simple, yet so very special and magical hides inside that pouch!
It’s so beautiful to see these simple things take on such life, special meaning and magic to the child. It really makes me so grateful knowing that our children’s early years are imbued with such a special sense of wonder that will, I hope, create memories that they will look back on in years to come with great fondness, love and wonder in their hearts.
Tell me – what is the most magical moment you remember from this special time when your children lived in this space of great wonder and awe?