Waiting for Hogwarts
by Gina Foresta
She stands at the window with hair still wet from the shower in the fitted long underwear style pajamas that look so enviably comfortable to an adult, but you know wouldn’t be pretty. She peers out into the darkness looking for signs of life, and then she sees it: a tiny flickering light. I will never forget the look on her face, that trust and faith in magic you can only experience when you are young. The light is coming from the site of her latest fairy house where she spent so much time earlier that day carefully arranging twigs, leaves, rocks, to create a pathway, a bed, a couch, a fairy haven. She still believes. In all of it. The whole childhood gamut of improbables. Even while standing on the precipice of teenhood.
This is that precious time before you wake from a dream, the space where Peter Pan can always find Tinkerbell. The child in us wants so desperately to believe even though our brains have developed enough reason to know some things don’t make sense. It is our last right to hold on to the magic before the reality of adulthood makes us feel like we shouldn’t any longer. It is a bittersweet rite of passage.
My daughter is now eleven years old. She starts middle school this fall, something I am still in denial over. When I was a child we started junior high in seventh grade, and we still felt unprepared, once again the young kids on the block. But these sixth graders are babes being thrown to the wolves of hormones, makeup, text messages and all things awkward. Part of me wants to put my arms around her and keep her young, protect her from the difficult years to come. But I know it is her job to pull away from us for a while, to make her way in the world, to learn her independence. It is now my turn to trust, to have faith that we have prepared her the best way we could have.
I have been thoroughly enjoying this eleventh year. She is old enough to have deeper conversations and is still receptive to the wisdom I have to offer, or at least think I do. Yet she still wants to cuddle at a moment’s notice, is equally at home with her stuffed animals and her mystery novels, can still enjoy games her seven year old brother invents, and sports a grooming style of perfectly polished toenails combined with unbrushed hair. She is blossoming in front of my eyes but still has the limbs, the gait, the swayback posture of a young child.
My husband and I have been selective of what we expose our children to. He is giving them a thorough education in different music styles, introducing them to our favorite bands old and new. We are choosy with shows and movies they are allowed to watch, even the amount. We have been mindful of the computer time they partake in and how often weas parents are on our phones in their presence. In today’s world, everyone is bombarded with screens, ads, sensory assault that we can’t always control. Taking back a little of that control in our own homes feels right, feels innate. And when we free up that time spent connecting with the outside world, and focus it on home and the people in it we are more present, more sensitive, more able to be inspired and creative.
My daughter inherited the artistic gene. While I believe everyone is an artist in some way and that every living being is creative, there are those for whom creating with their hands is innate. She is equally happy drawing or writing. We have nurtured that desire with art lessons and art supplies and space at home. We made a makeshift desk in her closet where she types out adventure stories on an old manual typewriter, endearingly preferring it to a computer. When she had the opportunity to apply to more academically challenging academy programs for middle school we listened to her when she wanted to stay with the art program she was already a part of. Not questioning ourselves-or her-for a moment, we agreed thankful that it was housed at her district school. We value creativity and innovation believing it applies to all other studies. We want to help prepare her for a life of joy, not necessarily a particular job.
Her hands are always making or doing. She raids the spice rack and pantry creating potions with interesting smells, colors, and magical properties. Seeing a bird at the feeder, she captures its image in pastels until she is covered in a chalky rainbow. She has even learned to whittle, with no agenda, feeling the surprise of what emerges from a simple stick, and the pride of being entrusted with a blade. It is lovely to watch her create with such abandon and fulfillment. External criticism and intrinsic doubt aren’t part of her world yet. She is humbled enough to know when she could have done better, but doesn’t need the approval in a way that bruises her self esteem.
Still welcoming her parents’ influence she has become interested in how she can contribute to bettering the environment, and protecting the planet. She has been busy making artwork, crafts, jewelry and more to sell at her Stuff Stand and plans to give the money she makes to help the honeybees. I want to savor this time that she chooses to use her gifts to show compassion for bees over texting her friends. Helping her to see the larger world and her place in it will help her gain perspective with she enters the fishbowl teen years.
I don’t mean to imply that all teens are self-centered or numb to anything outside their circle of friends. But the teen years are when what influences us begins to shift from our homes to our peers. If we are grounded and in tune to who we are, our judgement is well guided. We hope by keeping our daughter close and allowing her the time and space to explore her interests we have helped guide her in discovering her true self and to trust her intuition. It is akin to teaching her to fly in the nest.
Through her love of reading she has journeyed through Middle-earth, Narnia, the American prairie in long winters, and countless corners of her imagination. But her most beloved destination is Hogwarts. She devoured Rowling’s books and pined over such freedom to explore and indulge in magic. She dreams of having mystic powers and weaves this theme into her artwork and her own stories. Harry received his letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts, and confirming his unique qualities, in the summer of his eleventh year. This is the supposed time of reveal for those so lucky to be destined to attend. I can see that she wants to believe there is still a chance. A chance that not only Hogwarts does exist but that there may be a letter addressed to her in route. I wouldn’t dream of squashing that wish for her…any more than I would ever reveal that a stealthily placed tea light is a good stand-in for a fairy.