I have three children. My oldest Alex has Angelman Syndrome (www.cureangelman.org for more info, yes I have to plug it every time I say AS! We are big supporters of FAST). Though most people would focus on his differences, he is a lot like me in many ways. He is introverted, stubborn as shit, hates the morning, and has my big smile. I can always count on him to slink off with me and hide during a party. Our youngest is a sweet, gentle old soul. We named him Charlie after Charlie Bucket, because the world desperately needs more kind and thoughtful men, and I'm pleased to say that somehow he lives up to his name in every way. Our middle child was named after Lyra Belacqua. Face palm. I wanted to give her Lyra's fierce headstrong persistence, will to lead, and grit.... She got every bit of it... right down to the surprisingly blonde hair! She talks constantly, is always in motion, and is not a sentimental child. She can take control of a playground in minutes despite her tiny stature. She also has immense artistic talent and is very bright. I know that those qualities combined with her persistence, will carry her far. In the mean time, I have to parent this spirited kid, and staying ahead of someone with just an immense amount of power inside of them, when you're pretty low key, is hard. I didn't really anticipate that when I named her after my childhood hero... I guess I thought a name was just a name, and that she would inevitably be shy and reserved no matter what I named her, like her parents. So anyways, I had to get creative! Cue, teaching her witchcraft, and reshaping how our family does basically everything.
We do three things a little differently in our family.
1. We take them all outside any chance we get. We have prioritized proximity to nature all their lives so that we can give them that opportunity. Has it made us rich? Not financially, but spiritually? YES. Nature sustains us and makes us rich in spirit. While we are outside, we go out of our way to describe what we appreciate about the experience. "I love how the light is hitting that tree, how magical is that!?" "Listen to the beautiful sound of that bird! Nature is amazing!" "Guess where frogs come from? It is amazing!" This practice demonstrates that we value nature above everything else, than it is fun, sacred, and amazing.
2. We stop to give thanks to Mother Nature each day. I usually pick something beautiful I saw or ate that day, describe it, and specify to Mother Nature why I'm grateful for it. My concept of Mother Nature is basically this huge interconnected network of life on earth, rather than an actual entity, but I believe that will naturally become more and more clear for them as the kids age. To us, the practice of thanking Mother Nature demonstrates the value of gratitude, and humility, as we recognize how small we are, and how big and inspiring this earth really is.
3. The last thing we do is cast spells. I believe spells are a great way to articulate our intentions and desires. They empower us to take control over our circumstances, and to believe that we can. If Lyra is having nightmares and is afraid to go to bed, we can cast spells that make her feel safe. If Lyra is having a hard time with a kid at school, we can talk about it, and problem solve by casting a kindness spell upon them, which helps reframe her thoughts about that person, and inevitably shapes later actions. Magic is within us waiting to be channeled, or at least that is the word I use to frame it for her. It helps me to be a more consistent parent, and to dialogue with Lyra about the things that bother her. It also helps me to preserve the sense of wonder about nature that we so want our kids to keep all their lives. When you truly truly love nature, when you stand in awe of it... not only are you satisfied by a life without a million material goods, but also it is inevitable that you grow to see the world in a bigger context than what exists within your own four walls. It gives you empathy, compassion, a sense of personal responsibility, and a desire to preserve what you love, this earth! Wonder is joy, freedom, and good citizenship, at the same time. That is why we do magic.