“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
-C. S. Lewis
Yesterday, I woke up and decided it was time for a trip to Virginia’s side of the Blue Ridge. It’s become a tradition, really, and since the hubby was unexpectedly free, we set off with a cooler and my trusty Nikon.
Once there, we made several stops at the various outlooks. As always, nature’s Autumn display was breathtaking, the brilliant hues of red, yellow, and orange blending in with the more earthy hues of brown and green, reminding me, yet again, of why this is my other favorite season. But by the time we were halfway through the Skyline Drive, my boys were getting antsy.
Then we passed by this stretch.
And I yelled out, “Stop! Stop.”
The husband obediently swung the car into a clear spot near the edge of the woods. He had barely turned off the engine when my older son was jumping out.
“Lothlorien! We found Lothlorien!,” he mumbled as he ran off into the woods. I scrambled to get out as well.
Talk about beautiful! I stepped in reverently.
The afternoon sun was shining down on that stretch of woods. It was darker under the trees, but right above me, the sky was glowing. The leaves had turned yellow, but under the beams of light, they were golden. And the rays filtered through, and the dark trunks stood in contrast, and the whole thing took my breath away.
The boys went off on their own adventure. The husband was playing with photography apps on the phone. And I was taking pictures as greedily as I could, while at the same time wishing I could teleport my photographer-friend K there so she could capture it all with her talent and skills.
Later on, I caught up with my boys. I took a few more pictures, this time of them. Then we reluctantly left.
Today, I’m sitting at my desk with a tank full of gratitude. And I’m also feeling quite validated.
You see, despite all the backlash against fairy tales and the creatures that inhabit that world, I have given my boys free rein when it comes to their imaginations.
In fact, I purposely raised my sons steeped in fantasy.
Back to when they were babies, I made up stories of warriors and heroines and friendly wizards and trolls. To this day, my younger one loves to hear about his friend Little Froggy, who lives under a big rock in the backyard.
[A few weeks ago I told him Little Froggy moved away. His heartbreaking sobs made me feel guilty, so I took it back, assuring him it was a joke, and that Little Froggy was just visiting his cousin.]
Now that they’re older, I continue to encourage them to daydream and pretend. They read, visualize and have mock battles. They also make regular trips to where the wild things are, to Narnia and to Middle Earth.
Hogwarts is the only school they really like, and Camp Half-Blood is the best camp ever!
Also, they may own a Pokemon or two. [It’s a big secret, I’m not supposed to even bring it up.]
And, while only the older one has visited Westeros, the younger one enjoys hearing about the place and is as concerned about Jon Snow as his brother is.
I remember the day one of my boys came to me and said he had heard that dragons and wizards and elves were bad and that he shouldn’t be reading about them, much less pretend they exist. I remember asking him what he thought. He said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, but he was also worried because of what he had heard.
I remember assuring my boy there was nothing wrong with make-believe, certainly not of the kind we as a family enjoy. Because really, life is all about stories, and those that talk about change and redemption and the triumph of good over evil are the best stories there are. And sometimes these stories happen in fantasy land.
And whether they exist in the pages of a book or in real life, heroes [like I hope he would grow up to become one day] and heroines have one thing in common: they get to make choices in life, and then they live to make things right.
“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
-C. S. Lewis