Childhood magic, magic of life …

What’s it like to be a kid?  Can you remember?

Roll back the years for a bit … to recall being about 7 years old again … and from those recollections, who do you think you have grown into now?

We’re all different beings but our beginnings set the scene for the person we eventually become.

mother & childAs a family therapist I enjoy exploring ‘beginnings’.  The influence of our family of origin very often spreads far and wide in ways far beyond the ‘who do you think you are?’ variety.  Historical data is fascinating and of great personal value.  But emotional data is the key to self understanding – and usually the key to positive change.

From our earliest memories to current times, there are so many questions to ask, influences to explore and trends and traits to recognise.  There are surprises too, as reflection may reveal that the very folks we thought were of vital importance may in fact have had very little meaningful influence upon us at all.  Or the influence that occurred may have lead to limitation rather than fulfilment.

Here are some questions to prompt exploration:

  • What did you love most about being small?
  • What are some of the best times you can remember?
  • What does best mean for you?
  • Where do you fit into your family?
  • Who did you love most within your family?
  • Who was the most important person in your life at that time?
  • Do you remember a grandparent or several grandparents?
  • Who did you want to spend time with when you were seven?
  • Or were you beginning to grow up and want to spend time on your own?
  • Who did you love most within your extended family?
  • Who made you feel important and strong?
  • How was that person able to comfort you?
  • Were animals and nature a part of your early life?
  • What were the best games you played?
  • What tales and legends do you remember from around the kitchen table – before TV robbed many of family intimacy?
  • Did you feel good in the clothes you wore?
  • Who were your best friends?
  • Was school work easy and fun?
  • Did you discover spiritual, prayerful or inner nurturing when you were small?
  • What did you dream of doing when you were grown up?
  • Did you have special hobbies, passions and pastimes when you were small?
  • Can you remember the books you read and stories you loved?
  • What was your favourite food?
  • What was the best thing about weekends?
  • What about the bad times?
  • What did you love least about being small?
  • What was it like when you were sick with measles, chicken pox, colds and ‘bugs’?
  • What was happening around you during those years?
  • Did you feel peaceful and safe or was life pretty turbulent and chaotic?
  • Can you remember your vulnerabilities, dangers and fears?
  • Did ‘scary things’ alarm you – creepy crawlies, the dark-dark night, ghost stories, imaginative thoughts, nightmares, movies … people?

And then you began to grow up – and you continued to grow into the ‘you’ of now.  And alongside all the good things came worries, concerns, challenges, hurts and maybe a measure of emotional pain.  How do all those memories reflect that ‘you’ of today … whether you’re now ten or fifteen or twenty-five or ninety-five?

It would be wonderful to be able to say that all memories were good memories – but that would be impossible. Life is always light and dark (amid many shades of grey!) It would be wonderful to be able to say that most memories were good memories and that life was mostly light. Some very fortunate people can say that with confidence. But usually, somewhere along the way, a few dilemmas or challenges will bump us back to a time when something hurt us, something that brought disappointment, something that created fear and something we were unable to avoid.

That’s when we need to draw deeply upon the strength and influence we gained in early life from someone, or several, meaningful and loving life travellers. Maybe it was Mum or Dad. Maybe it was one of those grandparents … or an aunt or cousin or best friend or life partner. Or maybe it was someone completely outside the usual family picture, someone who happened to have just the right ‘magic’ to make you feel safe when you were small – and maybe you are fortunate enough to be able to draw on that strength in ‘grown up’ life.

That kind of magic is the essence of our SMT work here with children. It’s really important – necessary even – to help children to feel safe enough to close their eyes, let go of their defences, and experience their own deep and natural calm. In that calm, something shifts that, as Francine expresses so well in her Newsletter piece this month, “may be either subtle or profound – but supported by an atmosphere of calm, relaxed ease, insights come through varied art activities and creative play.”

And so ‘magic happens’ as understanding dawns and composure replaces turmoil. In the words of Akshay Dubey, recently featured on our Facebook page, “healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls your life … “. Now, isn’t that a good thought?

No matter what our age or stage of growth, we all need a little magic when times are difficult, when our day feels dull and when the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”¹ are a little too persistent. We hope that you and yours will learn to welcome quiet magic as a skill to become a natural part of everything you are and everything you do. And long may you reach out to it, letting its healing effects soften and solve any of those difficulties that might otherwise obstruct the ease of your glorious tour of life.

¹A fraction of life as contemplated by Prince Hamlet:  William Shakespeare

Pauline McKinnon ©
June 2015