Day of Magic

Voices in my house can be loud lately. Or hushed. Both scare me. I like a happy medium.

When my sister sits in the bathtub in the dark, she tells me she is reading. I am small, not stupid. No reading happens in the dark. And I sense pain coming off of her. At age six, I can smell pain like a bloodhound.

But today is one of those enchanted days. Magic will happen. We are not in the house with loud and hushed voices today. Instead, my parents and I go exploring.

The car smells of Amish country. Cherry pie and coffee. Cows. Cider, apples and cheese.

My parents sing in the front seat. I am still young enough not to cringe, to sing along to “Down by the Old Mill Stream” and “Shine On, Harvest Moon.”

My father drives over the hills, past the horses and buggies, so my stomach will drop and I will giggle on each descent. My mother plays the alphabet game with me. My name is Mary. I’m from Missouri and I went to the store to buy muffins.

When we finally arrive at the festival, my friend and I eat cotton candy and roll down the grassy hill. We listen to the music and brave the Tilt-a-Whirl. My world, at home, feels like a Tilt-a-Whirl. I don’t know why all the big people in my house seem to be spinning, hurly-burly. I don’t like it. But today, the Tilt-a-Whirl brings me a gift. I laugh instead of scream. It’s the same feeling but I know now it’s all how I let it in. My six-year-old self is learning, if only by gut instinct.

Tired from sunshine, running, eating, chasing horses, I fall sound asleep. I do not hear my friend leave the car for her front door.

I wake, softly and lightly, from the most delicious sleep. It is dark and the strongest arms I know lift me in the gentlest way possible. As I start to protest, my father whispers, “I’ve got you, Peanut. It’s ok.” That is all I need to know.

I smell no pain today. And I know neither voices nor Tilt-a-Whirls can hurt me—not now.

I wish the moment would last forever, as he lays me gently on my pillow and sleep comes again.

Kristine at candidkay.com

72 thoughts on “Day of Magic

    • As a divorced mom, I sometimes feel I fulfill that role–hopefully as well as my father did. I agree that security–giving children a solid base from which they can fly on somewhat unsteady wings–is key to a happy childhood.

      • Certain circumstances, at times, demand that we assume a role most unfamiliar. It is then, especially for the sake of children, that we do the best that we can, as we are called upon to fulfill as the exception in place of the rule.
        In a family, the dad assumes the role as head of the family. Mom is the heart of the family. Each role is unique and significant. When one is absent the burden to keep the healthy balance is challenging. Yet, the heart of a mom, who has been influenced by a wonderfully sacrificing father, as yours, can to some level, counter that absence, and is very much up to the task.
        Likewise, should a family be devoid of a mom, the task of the single father, I’m sure, is no less daunting.
        God bless,
        -Alan

      • I may be showing my bias here–but I grew up in a very matriarchal family. My mother was the heavy hitting executive. While she and my dad were partners, he excelled at the more creative tasks in keeping a home–rock star chef, etc. So I believe the roles are less based on gender than on strengths of the individuals. I have seen children thrive as long as the balance is provided, regardless of by whom–grandmother, single parent, etc. Thank you for offering your opinion so eloquently and openly–I truly appreciate it.

  1. Reblogged this on candidkay and commented:

    Childhood has its moments of magic. I was lucky enough to write about mine for Holistic Wayfarer on her site, A Holistic Journey. Visit us, friends, and share your moment of childhood magic.

    • Thank you! I know others who don’t desire to go back to their childhood. Some because of the lack of autonomy, others due to painful memories. And yet, I’ve seen so many turn a painful childhood into something that makes them a phenomenal adult. Funny how that works.

  2. I remember that feeling too, falling asleep in the car on the way back from visiting friends. It would be dark outside, I watch the stars, drifting off. And the car flies though the night, bringing us safely home.

  3. I hope that when my daughters grow older, they’ll carry a memory of me carrying them. I know I miss it, and think of so many times I had to scoop them up in their sleep. When the time comes, I hope they’ll lead me some way too.

  4. Kay, my three siblings and I were raised for many years by my father. I understand the security that comes from a strong father figure, I also understand the pain of living in a difficult or emotional environment. I have two sisters and either one could have been the one in the bathtub. Thanks for sharing your memories. I’ve been on that exact ride. Left me smiling and wrapped in a hug. Blessings to you.

  5. Beautifully written and very poignant…I read some of the comments about gender roles in the family. My wife and I split up household duties according to talent. My wife is a better with mechanical things, and I’m generally a better cook. Our kids went to both of us if they were sick or hurt.

    • Love that:). And I’m not surprised you are the better cook, given your artistic abilities. My father painted landscapes and that talent for art translated into other creative endeavors.

  6. There is such comfort in a father’s loving presence. A magic day for you indeed, when you drifted off to sleep in the sweet security of your dad’s words: “I’ve got you, Peanut. It’s ok.”

    He’s with you still. He’s got you. That’s the magic thing about love – it’s eternal, ever-vigilant, a wellspring that never runs dry.

  7. Nice narrative, Kristine (I’m trying to remember). As we get older and experience more of life, there are many, many moment that we ‘wish could last forever’. Ahhh, rides in the country and stopping for ice cream or hot dogs with my sister and parents. The windows were always open in our big Chevy station wagon.

    • Windows open! Yes:). That was a big part of the fun. One of the reasons I love Amos Lee’s Windows Are Rolled Down song. And we had a string of Chevy station wagons . . . one with the awful fake wood trim.

  8. Yes, nothing like Daddy’s strong arms. But you were contrasting the blissful sense of security with Everything Else you felt outside that day. It was a day of magic because it was atypical in your growing up. I appreciate the ache of the undertones in this lovely narrative and how you care about getting every word right. A pleasure to have you share and connect here, K.

    Xx
    D.

  9. Although your story ends on a note of hope, I am haunted by the second paragraph, by the sister who sits in the bathtub in the dark, pretending she is reading.

    I wish for every child days as beautiful as the one you described.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is a pleasure to read because of the way you wrote it.

    • Thank you for the kind words. The good news is–that sister is living happily today:). And has been molded in good ways, even by hard times. I wish, too, that every child could know a set of strong, loving arms . . .

  10. Beautifully wrought. Brings to mind an early memory of mine – not yet four, asking my Mom if my Dad was dead. It seemed so long since I’d seen him. “No,” she said. “He’s in the army.” And then seeing him months later…ah, bliss.

    • Thank you. Painting a picture is not always easy for me, as I don’t typically have the patience to stick with the details. So I truly appreciate that you saw it in this instance.

  11. I wanted to reach back in time and hug that child! I’ll do the next best thing… hug my children and tell them that I love them! Thanks for sharing this bittersweet memory of innocence and pain!

    • Couldn’t have said a nicer thing to a writer than “more, please.” Thank you for reading and the kind words. Funny, no matter what the age, daddies can always make magic happen.

  12. I love the way you’ve packed so many emotions into this snapshot Kristine – the magic of childhood experiences, the undercurrents of darker things not quite understood, family love. Very powerful.

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