That Time I Pretended…

I love the beauty of the outdoors. I can scarcely think of anything as lovely as a sunset, coastal storm, or mountain view (with the exception of babies, people. I’m not unfeeling!). My husband is the same. He finds his greatest peace, greatest sense of self, in nature. In fact, he’s planned his trip-of-a-lifetime for this fall—hiking the Alps!

Little wonder then that we often try to take our children in nature. We want to cultivate this love of the outdoors in our children. We hope they will find the beauty of this earth, see the hand of a perfect creator, and become better people because of it. 

But, every single time…

Gnashing of teeth. Unearthly screams. Flailing at the sight of the smallest bug. Complaints of the heat. Crying when separated by modern toilets. Helplessness. More flailing. More gnashing of teeth. And, so much whining. 

Then, a week later (or however long), I somehow forget my children seem incapable of being outdoors and we try again.

As time has proved, I find myself dealing with the same things all over again…

Gnashing of teeth. Unearthly screams. Flailing at the sight of the smallest bug. Complaints of the heat. Crying when separated by modern toilets. Helplessness. More flailing. More gnashing of teeth. And, so much whining. 

Well, I tried again on Saturday. Mark and I took the kids up to a nature park. Basically, it’s a paved path through beautiful scenery, hardly even comparable to a hike. And, what should have been predictable to us, became once more irritating…

Gnashing of teeth. Unearthly screams. Flailing at the sight of the smallest bug. Complaints of the heat. Crying when separated by modern toilets. Helplessness. More flailing. More gnashing of teeth. And, so much whining. 

It all started with the sign in the parking lot. Basically, it looked something like this (but with actual pictures…). 

The craziness was UPPED. RATTLESNAKES?!?! POISON IVY?!?! Oh my. 

We reached the pinnacle of madness just as we stopped beneath the shade of a giant tree—a tree with an unusually large canopy, a tree with tangled and gnarly roots and branches, a tree that looked straight out of a Tinkerbell movie. 

My creativity spun, and suddenly, I found myself speaking crazy. “Shhhhh…do you know what this place is?” I pointed to a birdhouse (drilled into the side of the tree at shoulder-height). “The fairy king’s throne.” 

Hushed silence overtook the small band of crying children. My girls grew reverent, my little boy wide-eyed. 

“Yes, this is the gathering place of the fairies.” I pointed between the leaves, where the sunlight peeked through. “At night, fireflies light this area, and the fairy king summons his people. If you are careful, if you are quiet, you might see a fairy.” 

We walked in silence, and then something ridiculous happened. Words came out of my mouth. Silly words. Embarrassing words. But fun words. 

“There are certain songs,” I said, leading my entranced children, “certain melodies, that call the fairies.” 

My 6-year-old’s eyes were as round as walnuts. 

“Fairy friends, fairy friends, 

Come out to play. 

Fairy friends, fairy friends, 

See us today.”

I have no idea where these words or the tune came from. Well actually, after reflecting a while, I believe the tune stemmed from the recesses of my mind—a mixture of “Come little children” from Hocus Pocus and “Flower Gleam and Glow” from Tangled.

Then, to the miraculous fates above, the leaves rustled. The wind picked up. Branches snapped. I’m not even kidding! 

“Fairies!” Ivy yelled, pointing to the brush. “I heard them!” 

My 10-year old screamed. “Fairies aren’t real!” 

“How do you know?” I quipped. “Don’t you think a God that can create humans and this perfect earth could create fairies too?” 

Please do not judge me for bringing God into this ruse. I just…I was too deep, SINGING for goodness sake. 

“Well, I guess…” my 10-year old said, clearly still skeptical. 

More hiking, more singing, more rustling ensued. Every time I sang, the ground around us seemed to stir. This spurred my ridiculous display even more. I threw in some Disney Enchanted ahahaha’s (scaled operatic sounds), and my three younger children were enthralled! 

No more gnashing of teeth! Not a single complaint! NATURE ENJOYMENT. 

I only broke character a few times to smile, and that happened only because I saw my husband’s fascinated gaze, the amusement in his smile, and the mischief in his expression. It didn’t take me long to figure out that each time I sang, he would throw small pebbles into the brush beside me. He was acting the part of fairy, and the kids had no idea!

The nature walk became delightful. We climbed through secret passages of branches, finding homes of fairies. We heard the flapping of their wings. My 3-year-old saw a spark of color. 

The sun became very hot, and we started back to the car. By now, I was quite impressed with my charade. So, I sang a little closing song: 

“Goodbye my fairy friends,

I’ll see you once again…”

As soon as we reached the parking lot, my darling 6-year-old came giggling-screaming. “Mommy! Mommy! I heard something! I heard the tiniest ‘bye’. I heard it! The fairies said goodbye!” 

She was convinced to her soul. Her expression, her smile, her authentic excitement—it was palpable. And contagious. 

I was beginning to feel a bit guilty…but then we got into the car, and my 8-year-old said, “This was the best day ever!” 

“That was so fun!” another said. 

“Is it a holiday?” a third said. “Why are we having so much fun?” 

Mark bit back a smile, and my guilt disappeared. Finally, when the kids were distracted, he leaned over. “Wow, Heather, I’m super impressed.” 

A strange sense of pride washed over me. My out-of-this-world imagination is good for something besides writing books. 

Maybe our nature walk was not as perfect and reflective as I had hoped, but my children enjoyed being outdoors! They forgot about bugs and heat and snakes and poison ivy. I’m calling it a win. 

But I can’t wait to recount the story when they’re older. I think we’ll have some good laughs. 

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *