I was that kid, the one that believed in Santa Clause for too long and didn’t know what a blow job was well into high school. I listened to my grandfather’s country music and my father’s 70’s rock while my classmates crushed on New Kids. I was tragically uncool and blissfully unaware but man was my childhood great. When I was home it was safe to be myself, to tell my mom that I saw a glowing light in my bedroom that must have been the tooth fairy while she set a place at the table for my imaginary friend. She never paused and cocked her head or hinted that I was too old for such make believe. I held onto it until the kid who grew up faster and harder than me told me the truth with feigned pity and masked jealousy. Those rude awakenings were never pleasant and they still live vividly in my head, but around every corner of self-doubt and grownup stress is a childhood in which I can find refuge. There is more depth to youth than we recall; layers of learning and happiness and make believe and pain. These layers cast a fog on the hurt, particularly in retrospect. And if you’re lucky, like I was, the vague pain of childhood is forever tied with comfort–the flu meant sleeping with my mom and watching scary movies with my dad, the death of my grandfather was shrouded with a beautiful closeness in my family coming together to grieve, those bullies at school showed me how fierce my gentle mother could be when her child was in pain. At 31, the kid that I was is still present because it was nourished and believed in and today when I face life at its hardest, it’s the kid that says ‘don’t forget that the good comes with the bad.’ This is why my daughter’s name is Hannah Leigh. Do you remember the song Puff the Magic Dragon? Well, here’s a refresher: he frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hona Lee. We named our daughter after that dragon’s home where childhood lives forever. Though Honalee would have been a beautiful name we didn’t want her to carry around the stigma of pot smoking, hippie parents–though that may not be too far off. If we have our way, our Honalee, our Hannah Leigh will have a childhood for the ages, where her imagination is stoked and her cushion is vast. Where we indulge her fantasies and stretch her dreams; where bruises are met with icecream and tears with hugs. I want her to construct a safe, warm place in her mind for the cold nights of adulthood where so-called reality presses down heavy and sad. If she can close her eyes and travel back to the nights we slept in a rickety pillow fort, cramped and cozy, she will be able to fend off any cold.

3 Responses

  • Memories of my own childhood came to mind, reading your post. And it is those memories and growing up believing in make believe for as long as possible that urges me to create the same world for my children. This was beautifully written piece and what a perfect name you chose for your little treasure.

  • So cute. My dad used to sing this song to us and play it on his guitar all the time when we were growing up. My parents (well mostly my dad) were those pot smoking hippies. But he named us both after songs that he’d learned to play on the guitar.


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