I watched at the park as my eight year old, clad in sandals, a green polo, and khaki, charcoal, and white plaid shorts, took a soaring leap onto an oversized log. I was struck with his resemblance to Peter Pan as he flew through the air in his green.
Childhood is as limitless as we allow it. It’s the time when we explore life and push our own boundaries to find out who and what we are, all with the safety net of a loving parent for those times when we need it. It’s an important time. While childhood itself is limitless, our time in it is finite. For most of us, there comes a day when we look back to realize that our childhood is over. We now have responsibilities, and our previously ever present safety net is gone.
Our experiences stay with us, our memories ingrained with what we have learned. As we age, it’s a natural progression that the veil between neverland and our real lives begins to disappear. The misty realm is less available to us. We can visit but we cannot stay as we once did.
It may seem that this individual journey is one that must be made alone, but parents have a very vital role to facilitate. If a child is thrust into the real world too early by abuse or neglect or by society’s rush to push sexuality and cruelty, the portal to neverland sealed, it can have dastardly effects. Same, too, if the child runs to neverland to escape what is going on in his real life. He may just decide to stay there and never grow up.
So, I watch my children. I revel in their play. I even visit and join in with some swordplay, some fairie hunting, and some dancing in the middle of a parking lot. I value their time in such a wondrous place, and I don’t try to force them out of it too soon. I act as their safety net when they need it, less and less over time. They will grow up on their own, in their own time, just as they have learned everything else. I value my time with them in such a magical place, talk to them, and enjoy watching them grow and learn.