“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeats
We were first introduced to the concept of a wonder book when Cai was six. It was shared by his teacher as a way of celebrating defining moments, such as teeth falling out. I don’t know what she was expecting from us as she showed this beautiful collection of pictures and writing that she and her husband had collated over a 7 year period of their daughter’s childhood. At the time it seemed like a huge, unobtainable anthology. Way too big and overwhelming a project for us. Thankfully, Kimberly bought a hardback, unlined book and we took our first tentative steps. Our pattern quickly emerged, Kim would draw a picture relevant to that period of time and I would write a poem and due to my horrible handwriting word processed it with a consistent image. The poem was most frequently written by the tooth fairy, however, sometimes Sean the Leprechaun got in on the action. Five years later, we have nearly filled the book and he still holds onto the magic of the tooth fairy.
The real beauty of this book is how it has guided Cai. Early on Toothy (Cai was invited to name his tooth fairy and this is what he came up with) always described how he was watching Cai and how he was proud of him. More importantly, he told Cai how to behave. Toothy was a walking, talking morality tale, a mentor, friend, guardian and guide. Because of the interest he showed, Cai was always happy to do his bidding. I loved the fact that while we had only a small amount of control of when the poems would be written, they were very relevant to what was going on at the time. The thing about life events is that they are usually a good opportunity to introduce behavioral advice because change is happening.
Another thing I have enjoyed about Toothy and Sean is that they are mystical beings deeply intertwined with and shaped by nature. Their magic is a reflection of the earth and its processes. Magic is often misrepresented as a duplicitous act, hoodwinking people to believe in something that does not exist; trickery. When we change that way of thinking and instead see magic as a way of encouraging the belief that anything is possible then we open up a whole new world. Look at all successful people and they believe in possibility and work hard to make the unlikely a reality. Magic is a precursor to this kind of optimism.
The real beauty of the wonder book though is that we have rarely had cause to punish Cai for misbehavior. He is eerily good. I would say a lot of this is down to the wonder book and Toothy telling him how to be a good human. There is a real reason that our ancestors incorporated little people and magic into the lives of their young people. I highly recommend giving it a go.
Tell me, what magic are you going to incorporate into the life of your child?
WSJ article on children and magic
Zoom in and you will be able to read the poems.