> There have been times when people have told me that I shouldn’t fill my children’s head with such nonsense. I am talking about the stories I tell them. About Elves, fairies, unicorns, dragons,pixies, brownies, centaurs, witches and wizards.
My response is usually the same. “Why Not?” Children live in a different world than we do. Their perceptions are so unlike adults that these things are not only possible, they are plausible. If my children think that the dust motes that seem to gather in the air, at the top of stairs in late afternoon, are tiny fairies, who am I to tell them different? They are happy to play with the fairies and I am happy that they are happy doing it.
If I tell them that Fairies ride on fireflies, what is the harm? They are smart kids. We have talked about lightening bugs before, they know why they light up & how. We have caught and examined one very carefully before we released it. They didn’t see a fairy but, they were very gentle with bug.
Everyone ‘knows’ that Elves are very elusive and don’t like humans much. Because most humans don’t respect nature and strive to conquer it, not live as part of it. But, looking for elves makes them pay attention and be quiet when we are in the woods. They may not see elves but we have seen all sorts of other creatures that are no less wonderful to them. Squirrels and deer aren’t much different in their eyes. The point is to pay attention to the world around you. To recognize that you are part of something much larger. To be less focused on yourself. These are things I want them to learn.
Dragons. Every culture has a myth about dragons. How do we really know that they didn’t exist? Perhaps, a type of dinosaur survived long enough to terrorize early human settlements? We don’t know. It seems unlikely but we know a few dinosaurs did indeed survive. Whether they are
Witches. Well here is a subject I am well acquainted with I have taught extensively on this subject.
Witches aren’t always evil. Most witches are good. Even Hollywood gets that right occasionally. But witchcraft, in and of itself, has never been ‘evil’ . Witchcraft is simply a way of doing things. Different perhaps than how most people do things today, but if we think back, to what life must have been like 400 years ago and earlier, witchcraft makes sense. Witches were the women at the edge of village, who knew things. Usually just how to cure this illness or how to make your cow start producing milk again. No magic usually involved. These were wise women, who figured things out. This herb can help a pregnancy, this one will end it. Of course there are always 2 sides to a coin. Not everyone is out to help others. Magic is and will always be around.
Science is magic explained.
Imagine the first person who figured out how to control fire. I would expect that everyone around them thought it was magic and this person had special ‘powers’. We now know how fire works, so its no longer a mystery. The same with illness. If you got sick before and you didn’t heal on your own you died. But, what about that crazy old lady, that witch that lives down the road all by herself. Go see her. With her magic spells and herblore she might be able to help, for a price. Usually the cure was more herblore and a bit of mumbo jumbo for show, But if it worked?
The stories I tell all have a point.
Humans need the idea of good vs. evil. Its along the same lines as Hope and Faith. They are things that make us human and not just clever monkeys. The age old struggle between good and evil gives us a focus, a way to channel our own insecurities and emotions into something larger than ourselves. It takes the focus off of ourselves, how can this be a bad thing? We all seek to be part of something, whether we admit it or not. To seek out others and a common cause is part of our nature as humans.
So if I tell them a story or read them the Hobbit, there are lessons to be learned. The cast of characters doesn’t really matter. The point is the same.
The boys know this and will tell you, if you ask that “if we work together, we can get the job done!” Actually, I think that line can from Bob the Builder but it doesn’t matter. They understand that differences aren’t the important thing.
I don’t see a problem with my stories, if I did I wouldn’t tell them. But children need the opportunity to explore all aspects of their world imaginary or real. It may be fantasy to you and me, but maybe not to them. I love mythical creatures. I love telling my children about them. I like to see the wonder in their faces at the idea that there are guardians of nature, hidden in the forest, silly and playful pixies making mischief in the kitchen, great dragons guarding treasure deep in the mountains.
I want them to know that goals are important, but not as important as the journey itself. Whether or not we succeed or fail in this goals, in the eyes of others or ourselves, doesn’t ultimately matter. Our goals do not define us. It is the journey itself that ultimately defines who we are.
These are the things I want them to learn. So what if I use elves and fairies to do it. I want them to know, to understand that outside appearances or apparent differences, are not defining. Everyone and everything are unique and with value. Different types of people can work together, toward a common goal. A hobbit, some elves, a dwarf, humans whatever the case may be. My hope is that it will translate later in their lives. That they will see that everyone has value. Every culture has something to teach us. That we really aren’t that different.