Saturday, January 30, 2010

What makes a Magical Childhood?

Playing in the leaves at Wildcat Mountain State Park last fall

Camping with unschooler friends on our month-long tour of Minnesota State Parks in June, 2008

With Bubbie on the North Shore in 2007

Ezri at Minnehaha Falls when he was only 2!

A couple of years ago I was on an unschooler chatlist where someone proposed the question, "Do you think your childhood was magical, and if so, what was magical about it?"

It was amazing - every person who responded said that what was magical was time spent in nature and/or time spent on vacations.

I love that!

On vacation, of course, time slows down - everyone can be "present" and you are *supposed* be hanging out together, being idle or having new experiences.

And in nature. . . well, it's just a universal experience that we need because of being human beings, having spent 99.9% of our history living in tribal situations, where being outdoors was the way of life.

When I think of the most magical experiences of *my* childhood, what immediately comes to mind are things like these:

-playing on the beach in the Gulf of Mexico
-riding horseback through Wyoming
-watching a thunderstorm roll in over Lake Minnetonka
-going over a waterfall on my butt at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
-climbing the tree in my front yard
-playing for hours by the lake
-snorkeling in Hawaii
-jumping over waves on the shore of Lake Superior
-playing on my dome climber jungle gym
-playing in mud puddles on our gravel driveway
-sitting by a campfire
-finding a "treasure buried by pirates" in the sand dunes
-listening to John Denver on the 8-track in my dad's boat
-water tubing with friends
-sledding, building snowmen and forts, and having snowball fights

Aah! There is one exception - I think that my Christmases seemed magical when I was a child, and those were neither outdoors nor vacations. But in a way they were - the fire in the fireplace and everyone gathered and slowed down, relaxed and having a great time - just like on vacation.

Isn't it interesting? I'd love to hear other people comment on what they think was magical about *their* childhoods.

I think that a lot of the reason that I'm so obsessed with going on vacation to "nature" places, getting my kids outdoors, and wanting rural property is all because of these kinds of memories.

But if other people have other kinds of magical childhood experiences, I'd like to hear those, too!

(Interestingly, I have just put this question to my 6.5 year-old and he says that his most magical memories are of Papa and me using magical means (magic leaf, magic wand) to make marshmallows appear in his hot chocolate. Hmmm!)


  1. i love this post, danna. i am so conscious of encouraging time in nature for the kids. i think this is also why i am drawn to waldorf--for the magic! and yes, it's so about me and my wonderful memories of time spent outside as a kid. my most vivid memories. free time, hours of it, outside w/ my siblings and the neighborhood kids. the tree house, creek, catching frogs and turtles, rolling down the hill in the grass, climbing trees, playing tag, hide and seek, pretending we didn't have parents and lived out in the forest by ourselves...i especially loved the summers when we would come in to eat dinner and then get to go back outside! the other special memories i have are of spending time with extended family at birthday parties, holidays, etc. that's why it just about broke my heart to move out here to california this summer across the coast from my family after spending 2 months with them and seeing the kids bond and have a blast with their family. but they are also a big part of the reason i am doing the presence process now, so i guess nature is the way to go!

  2. Hey, I've never thought about that before, but you're totally right when I think about the childhood memories that I regularly go over and over in my mind (the good ones, that is...) and the Christmas one too...which is sad for me b/c i've never been able to "recreate" those memories, hard as i've tried since i left for college...

    what about x-country skiing w/ the Bloodsworth girls and laughing our asses off when we'd crash at the bottom of a windy hill? or when we'd make emily or val go first down a giant scary hill? :-)


  3. Magical moments of my childhood:

    -Playing rapturously in the exquisite red-clay mud of Georgia
    -Playing in the creek and woods behind our house in upstate New York
    -Seeing gifts under the Christmas tree that I believed had been brought by Santa
    -Walking home from school through a field of goldenrod
    -Being freaked out by the spooky broken beer bottles left in the woods by wicked partying teenagers
    -Stumbling across a half-dozen abandoned rusty cars in the woods that still had old newspapers from the 1950s in them
    -Reading, reading, reading!
    -Falling in love with old black and white movies from the 1930s and 1940s
    -Sledding downhill while holding hands with friends on their sleds, crashing into each other before landing with a huge thump on the frozen creek at the bottom of the hill

    I think those are some of the main ones. . .