A few mornings ago, I woke up my 7-year-old son Bodhi for school with a foot rub. When he was a baby I used to, based on a recommendation from a physician I met, clap the bottoms of his smooth feet together with the idea that it would help Bodhi form more neural connections. Did it work? I like to think so.
That morning as I sat at the edge of his bed with his foot in my hand, I was amazed at how big and rough they had gotten; my son is growing up. Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher and founder of Waldorf Education, thought that children, at about 6-years-old go through a change that grounds them more firmly in the earth. Up until their sixth year, Steiner contends, children are in a dreamy state that has them deeply connected to the ethereal, where there is still a deep sense of the whimsical and magical.
Bodhi is in a developmental place where he straddles both worlds. Lately, he's been fascinated about how things work, especially movie "magic," and he's been learning to program his own website via the Code Academy. And yet he still has an enormous capacity to see all things as magically possible, to anticipate Santa Claus and to dream of flying.
The other day he asked me, "Dad, how can I write a letter to the Tooth Fairy?" "Why do you want to write to the Tooth Fairy?" I asked. He didn't want to say, except to say, "It's too embarrassing." I could see in his face that this was something very important, so at dinner that night, Kim and I asked again why he wanted to write a letter to the Tooth Fairy. Finally, after a few minutes of prying, he told us that he really, really wants to fly and was wondering if the Tooth Fairy could make a potion that would make him fly. Kim and I looked up at each other with worried glances of, "Oh crap, what do we do with this one?"
Kim and I have always tried to create an environment of childhood wonderment and amazement for Bodhi. Magic or the Divine often served as great answers to the large childhood questions. Why is the sky blue? Why do stars twinkle? Or how can birds fly? But lately, only the most scientifically sound explanations can fully answer all the phenomena that Bodhi experiences. The other day, when he was working on his website via Code Academy, he asked me if I understood how a website works. I told him, "magic" and his eyes rolled and he gave me this intense, "You've got to be kidding look."
But to me, it's all still so magical. I turn on my computer and it regales me with the Apple Computer boot up sound. I click on my web browser and open the gates to an incredible world of information; it's like living in a fairy tale. I look out the window as I work and see the blue sky that stretches out to forever with birds gliding effortlessly on a gentle breeze. How does this all happen if not for something truly amazing keeping it all glued together?
As I sat there rubbing his feet on that early school morning, I realized that my boy is growing up. It made me both sad and happy. He is so full of questions, wanting solid answers, and yet still filled with the mysteries of life, like wanting to ask the Tooth Fairy for a flying potion.
Bodhi writes to the Tooth Fairy,
Dear Tooth Fairy,
Can you help me learn to fly?
What do we do with this? Kim and I haggle over this trying to figure out the best approach. Is it time to disclose that there is no Tooth Fairy? Do we tell him humans are not meant to fly? Is it the end of his childhood? Where will all of this lead us?
Kim in all her wisdom decides to write a letter back to Bodhi as the Tooth Fairy. She writes,
Close your eyes. Feel yourself in the air. Feel the joy--it is yours when you close your eyes.
Humans fly when they make art, music, when they are kind and give love to others. That is the best way to fly -- in your heart.
Forgive me for not giving you a flying potion. But remember the gifts you have been given, the gift of love and joy. Fly in your heart. Laugh and smile and hug as much as you can every day.
Your friend, Tooth Fairy
Bodhi was incredibly excited the day the Tooth Fairy's letter arrived in his tooth pillow. He came running out to breakfast waving in his hand, what he thought, was the secret of human flight. He eagerly opened the envelope and handed the card to Kim for a read. I watched his face as Kim read the note. His eyes once filled with hopeful anticipation slowly glazed wet and turned red as Kim got to end of the message. There was silence for a moment, broken by Bodhi's sigh. Kim hugged him and kissed his forehead as breakfast was served. He smiled, perhaps in an unconscious acceptance of being more firmly planted here on the planet earth with a whole lifetime of new adventures ahead.