When my daughter Heather was three, she got caught coloring on the wall outside her bedroom. The scribbles were at eyelevel to the average preschooler, about two feet from the floor, and had probably been there for a good week before I noticed them. When I finally realized the red and green curlicues weren’t part of the from-the-factory paint splattered wallpaper of our mobile home, I knew it was my toddler who had committed the crime. (In all fairness, Heather gets her deviant behavior honestly. I spray painted my name on the end of our mobile home when I was seven.)
Now, every child goes through a phase of self-expression, usually in a way that is counter to what society deems appropriate; mine was wearing floral leggings with plaid flannel shirts in high school that clashed with my tiger-striped hair. But as a parent, I flipped out at the sight of my hall wall being used as a drawing canvas for a three-year-old. I hollered at Heather that I was going to “tear her up for drawing on my wall.” This led to a chase through the house that ended with my daughter standing in front of the back door she was too short to unlock and escape from me.
As I approached her, flyswatter in hand to administer my threatened punishment, my baby turned to me, bowed her head, and clasped her hands under her chin. Her tiny voice whispered, chanting, “The power of three will set me free.” I stopped my approach, dumbfounded that my child would be using a spell from the TV show Charmed to try to save herself from the consequences of misbehavior.
I couldn’t help but laugh, realizing that I had subjected my children to WAY too much 90s television. Not only did Heather know the Power of Three spell, but she and her nine-year-old sister Eyrka had also been observed skulking through the back yard, wooden stakes in hand, preparing to kill some vampires (a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
All of this ties into an issue I’ve recently resolved between my spiritual life and my writing. My novels are paranormal romance. Witches and ghosts inhabit my worlds, but the topic of the occult goes against the beliefs of the church. Up until recently, I felt that I couldn’t be a good witness if I promoted the supernatural in my writing. The reconciliation occurred when I realized that the books are works of fiction. Yes, some of it is based on researched facts about the beliefs of Wiccans, but the story itself is a fabrication of my inventive mind. I made the whole thing up!
A secondary, and probably more important, revelation was that I have to be true to myself. I am who I am, and I believe the things I believe. I believe spirits contact us from the other side. The dimes I find lying in my path are signs from my granny that she is keeping an eye on me. I believe the coincidences that happen to us do so for a reason; everything is purposeful. And I believe that our thoughts and words have power, whether as organized prayer or self-fulfilling prophecy.
Children enjoy their imaginative play and don’t worry so much about whether it fits into a belief system. They make believe and play pretend all the while strengthening their creativity and their sense of self. After all, they are the creator of their own worlds with all the witches, vampires, mermaids, ghosts, and aliens they can dream up.
And I plan to follow their example.