The Age of Emma

As the older sister, mother, grandmother (or Garemommy, if you will), aunt and great-aunt I have often found myself in awe of the mind of a child. The unbridled passion for things they love, the amazing imagination that simplifies everything on the planet to a simple “why” or “why not”. Given all these opportunities to sit back and observe human nature at its finest hour has been such a gift to me.

And with all the observations I have made over the years, none has left the impact that my now 6-year-old granddaughter has left with me. You see, today we turn 6. It’s a milestone, it’s a big deal! Yesterday she attended her very first day of first grade and now she is officially in big school. God Bless them, “big school” has no idea what it is in for!

I am one of those fortunate enough to be able to have my grandchildren with me on school holiday weeks (and Lord, there are many now) and during their summer vacations. Thanks to relatives that help me out when they are here, we all get a little more educated with every visit.

That preschool/primary school age will forever be my favorite age. The age of adventure without fear… The age of learning without the handicap of knowledge… The age of a multi-colored world without the restrictions of “gray areas”… The age of big dreams unbounded by real world physics… Simply put the age of Magic…

The older I get the more I wish I could find my 6 year-old self again. The one who believed all things were possible, the one whose dreams were bigger than this world and the one who saw the good in all things or people, regardless of what those things showed me their true colors to be. Imagine what an amazing world we would all live in if we never out grew that age? If we never let go of the dreams that made us light up as small children? If we found good in everything and everyone around us?

One such dream of Emma’s was expressed with the utterance of a simple question asked by millions of people every year. “Emma, baby, what do you want for Christmas?” I asked this bright eyed 4 year-old.

“A unicorn and a tiara!” Came the emphatic response! (The pronunciations were more like… “You-knee-corn and Tea-AR-rah”) She had not skipped a beat! She was ready for the question. It was surprising enough that she had replied so quickly and even more surprising that she had not said something a little more in line with what television and the internet were showing the hot new toys to be for little girls that year. See, Emma is no different than every other child when it comes to television commercials and the influence on her wish list.

A little curious about her list not containing an Elsa doll, I asked her why she did not want one of those this Christmas. “Oh, no Garemommy, you cannot get me that, Papa George is going to get me that.” Slowly, it was becoming clear… all the adults in her life had been given an item or two (in my case) that they were assigned to purchase for her for Christmas. It was amusing to listen to how she had divided it up and managed to cover all of her wants in such a well-organized manner.

The competitive part of me took over at that point. If each grandparent was being given a specific item to purchase, it was not going to be about our creativity in selecting the perfect gift for the little Diva, but about getting the exact right one she pictured in her head. And I thought I knew that little head enough to know that her picture was clear and any deviation from that picture was going to be a complete fail on the part of the giver. So I wanted details. I had to get this right. As the only out-of-town grandparent, I saw less of her during day-to-day life than the others and I was not going to be outdone!

“Ok, princess what kind of Unicorn do you want? Pink, purple, a specific cartoon one? A plastic one, a plush one? What will it be?” I asked, ready to get every detail exactly right. Little did I know what I was in for!

“No, A REAL ONE, Garemommy. But if they come in pink, I would like that a lot better.”

Few people in my life have left me speechless, but this little one had managed to do it yet again.

“A real one?” I asked sheepishly… silently praying the whole time, “please God, don’t let me be the one to shatter her dream.”

“Yes, and I know what you are going to say” she began, “where will it sleep? In my room. Who will take care of it? Me. Who will take care of it while I am at school? Max will play with it.” (Max was the ornary stray cat her Papa Paul had taken in many years ago. That picture was extra humorous, Max playing with anything…) She had a list of questions someone had obviously already supplied her with and she had already worked out all the answers. The lunacy of discussing this mythical creature as if it were a new puppy was not lost on me.

Still avoiding the obvious, I decided to move on to the tiara. And, of course, only a real one would do.

So, Christmas morning I arrived at her house with my shopping list complete and a couple of gifts nicely wrapped in Disney Princess gift paper ready to make her day. I had worked out my explanation of why the plush unicorn was wrapped and not a real one, but I still wondered if my way of seeing things was going to be enough for her.

As she unwrapped the package containing the pristine white unicorn with the shimmery glittery horn and the pink main, hooves and tail. I began my explanation (thank you J.K. Rowling), “You see, Princess, Unicorns are magical creatures that should be allowed to live among other unicorns and other magical creatures. If we move them into our world it will sadden them and cause them to lose their magic. We would not want that, now would we?” I paused as she shook her head sadly. Oh, I was afraid I was making it worse, but I plowed forward. “This precious unicorn has been kissed by a real unicorn and promises to love you forever without losing his magic.” I knew as her face lit up and she pulled the unicorn into a big hug and kiss that I had managed to postpone the loss of innocence one more day at least!

I know the day will come, all too soon, when she no longer believes in Unicorns, Magic, Princesses, Fairies and the like, but unless someone figures out how to bottle it so I can take a drink of it everyday and believe in my own magic, I will continue to slip into that magical world of hers every chance I get and soak up the awesome feelings that I experience when I let the real world be what it is and live in the world of Emma.

Oh, And the Tiara? Real… of course… well ok, costume jewelry real that is! But a huge hit just the same.