I found the bracelet buried in my seven year-old granddaughter Kylie’s toy chest. It was a blue rope bracelet with a metal silver rectangle in the middle that said, “something wonderful is about to happen.”
I put it on just so I wouldn’t forget to give it back to my granddaughter, thankful that it stretched to fit my adult wrist. Then I went back to sorting Legos, and finding the pieces to missing puzzles, and the clothes to dress her naked Barbie dolls.
After I finished I sat down and looked at the bracelet – letting my fingers linger over the etching of those words. That day – a day dark with clouds looming overhead not just because of the unending rain outside, but because of family stuff and writing stuff and missing my parents who are no longer with me, and because of an ache in my spirit I couldn't quite recognize – I needed something wonderful to happen. A miracle on 34th Street in my abode, many miles away.
So, like a child I held on to the allure of that object around my wrist and those words and I waited, expected, believed that something wonderful would happen for me that day.
And as I waited, slowly the sun began to peek through the clouds. And a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while called to share memories of my parents. And a family member who'd frustrated me sent a text that told me he understood what I was trying to say. And a story I was working on, and had been at an impasse, began to flow effortlessly.
Children I know would call what happened to me that day "magic." Adults might call it “having faith” – trying to make sense out of miracles and wonder. But sometimes it's that childlike word – magic – that describe what's happening much more aptly.
We all need magic in our life. We need it as individuals to realize our dreams, to combat those humbug days we all have. We need it in our marriages to reignite a spark, and when parenting when times are tough. We need it, especially now, during this election year when our world is so divided, and people forget that our children can hear the hateful rhetoric and that they are feeling fearful, instead of fearless.
As parents, we have to be the magic-keepers for our children. I regret that, at times, when my children were younger, I forgot how to do this.
When my son – the middle child – was starting kindergarten and wanted to wear a superman cape he’d gotten for his birthday to school, I refused to let him in spite of his pleas. My excuse was, “The other children won’t be wearing capes and the teacher won’t allow it.”
In my haste to get he and his brother off to school and to get home before their baby sister started fussing in her stroller, I didn’t stop to look into his eyes and see how important it was for him to wear it. I didn’t think about the cape’s magical powers that transformed him from a shy, quiet five year old to a superhero who could walk into a room courageously and accomplish great feats – academic, or physical, like climbing the highest part of the jungle gym during recess.
We’d just moved to the neighborhood six months prior. That superman cape that my son zoomed through the house wearing made him made him feel brave, and self-assurance bubbled inside of him.
This was the first time he’d be away from me for an extended part of the day with people he didn’t know. He didn’t jump head-first into things like his older brother – who's more like my husband. So his year started off bumpy and it took some time for him to find his way.
In hindsight, I know I should have let him wear his cape that day. I could have pulled his teacher aside and maybe she would've understood and smiled and said it was fine. Maybe after one day of wearing his cape, the magic of its super powers would have instead radiated from the top of his head down to his toes and he'd only have to conjure thoughts of it tied around his neck to feel them.
That superhero cape for our sons or daughters, that bracelet with the inspirational words, that shiny stone they found outside, those fairy wings (my granddaughter’s favorite thing), all of these things can channel positive forces for our children, forces that help them believe in their superpowers.
Wearing or holding on to something palpable can give our kids the confidence they need to step out into the world believing they can transform themselves into whomever they choose to be. Believing that if they put on a cape, or rub a shiny stone, or wear purple fairy wings, they'll experience all things magical and the world will be much more enchanting, and a lot less scary. The witches and warlocks – which, in real life might be a bully or a move away from family and friends – will not harm them.
I found my magic in a bracelet. There are still days when dark clouds taunt me, and when they do, I rub my bracelet and say the words out loud, sending them magically on their way.
Thankfully my granddaughter hasn’t asked for her bracelet back. She toys with it on my arm when she sits on my lap and says, “It looks nice on you.” then asks me to help her put on her purple fairy wings.
One day, I'll eventually tuck the bracelet away for when she's older, and I'll probably tuck the fairy wings away too when she outgrows them. But when, years later, she reaches for them again, I know it'll be because she needed something to help her believe in magic.