Friday, May 20, 2011

I believe in mermaids

Last night I had one of those bitter moments that comes with mothering.  My little girl, only in Kindergarten, told me she had a bad day.  When I asked why, she burst into tears and told me that all the kids at her table at school said there was no such things as mermaids.  One minute, she was happily spending her free time drawing an ocean full of mermaids, the next minute her bubble is burst.  Even worse, they said mermaids were "lame" because they wore bras. (I'm going to argue that those same little boys who think scantily clad, bra wearing, women are "lame" are going to be changing their tune when they are fifteen and come across their first issue of Victoria's Secret's catalog, but that's a discussion for another day.)  It saddens me to see my daughter's loss of innocence at such a young age.  No such thing as magical creatures.  Bras.  It's all coming to fast.  Maybe it's because we are all starting to realize that first grade is just around the corner and the kids are going to keep getting more cynical with every year that goes by.  I love that my daughter believes in everything magic and wonderful.  I want her to hold onto that as long as possible.  Until she's 50 or 60 at least! 
Besides the pain of seeing my daughter hurt, I also had one of those moments of, "Oh no!  What do I say now?"  Do I tell her there aren't mermaids?  Do I tell her there are and then possibly deal with more teasing?  Do I strangle those little children who are stealing my daughter's childhood from her?  (Don't worry, I decided against that one immediately.)  I'm hoping I did the right thing when I told her that she could believe in any kind of magic she wanted.  If others don't it's not her problem.  What's important is to listen to her heart and believe whatever she wants.  A sniffle and nod and I think we're both okay now, but I won't know for sure until I see another mermaid drawing.

If you believe in mermaids, please leave a comment for my daughter about it here.  I'll be sure to read them to her.  Let's fight the good fight and keep as much magic & make believe as we can in the world.  And, just in case you are a mom and you face a similiar situation, I will leave you with a quote from Francis P. Church's famous editorial to Virginia, in answer to her question about Santa Claus, in The New York Sun in 1897:

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

(The photos in this post were taken at Disneyland in 2007, back when there was no doubt that mermaids were real.)