“Hey Mom,” piped Archie’s tiny voice from the backseat. “Do you know about rainbow wizards?”
“Rainbow wizards? No, but I definitely want to hear about them,” I replied, snapping out of the auto pilot fog I had fallen into as my brain recounted the seemingly endless list of chores waiting for me once we arrived home. The most dreaded task, one that I had been purposefully avoiding for weeks, finishing G’s developmental forms for his specialist appointment the following morning.
“They live at the end of rainbows and if you catch them they have lots of gold and chocolate bars. But they are very fast and very tricky,” Archie quickly explained.
“Do you mean leprechauns,” I replied with a laugh.
“Yes, like leprechauns,” Archie confirmed with excitement. “Except rainbow wizards are trickier with special powers. But if you catch them they have buckets full of chocolate and they can grant wishes like genies. I’m going to catch one, Mom”
I paused for a moment, wondering if I should inform my precocious child that leprechauns are no more real than the monsters he sometimes worries are lurking beneath his bed–caught in the timeless parental tug-of-war of wanting to preserve his imaginative innocence and the crushing-responsibility to prepare him for the world. I quickly pushed the concern aside, figuring he would quickly move on to a new challenge and had plenty of time to learn about the not-so-magical realities of life.
Our night progressed and I didn’t think much more of our conversation, busy with the usual evening routine of preparing dinners and getting little boys bathed, read to and tucked into bed. Then delivering much needed drinks of water to preschoolers who are suddenly in urgent danger of dehydration.
As I finally sat myself down with a glass of wine for fortification, my forms and those of G’s teachers and therapists, Arch’s tiny voice piped through my mind, “Mom, do you know about rainbow wizards.”
“Yes,” I thought, as I looked at the stacks of paper scattered about my coffee table, ready to be tucked neatly inside G’s “doctors folder” along with the PECS (picture communication cards) social story, that his incredible speech therapist, Lauren Fuller, made to help ease his anxiety over checkups and a Berenstain Bear’s book about going to the doctor that we had read all week and would read countless times again before his appointment. My eyes skimmed over the blue compression vest ready to be packed for our trip. “Yes, I know about rainbow wizards or rather, I know about chasing them.”
Sometimes I feel like all I am doing is chasing leprechauns and trying to capture their magic. I think we all have our leprechauns in one form or another. We all have things in our lives that we would change or fix if we could, things that are outside of our capability to change and yet we still desperately try.
As I sat, staring at the reality of our lives in black and white, I found myself pondering the same question from earlier that evening: should I tell myself that magic is no more real than super-powered leprechauns and accept reality as it is? Should I stop chasing rainbow wizards? I took a long drink of wine–because I have not yet reached the state of maturity where I don’t sometimes seek to drown my shadows rather than face them–and finished the papers, carefully filing everything away for the next day.
To be honest, even weeks later I still don’t have a definite answer to my question, “is it more painful to keep searching for the improbable or to give-in and accept what reality would have me believe?” I don’t know, but I do think that chasing fairy tales is inherent in all of humanity. Perhaps it is a necessary survival mechanism, as someone who has been an incredible mentor to me, Anne Huber, suggested when I was pouring out my worries to her over a cup of coffee, after the less-than-heartening visit to G’s specialist. A mechanism that allows us to move forward, when all around us would have us falter. As a writer, I like to think that there is evolutionary benefit in the magic of stories, passed down through the generations.
I don’t know what the right answer to my question is, but for now I will allow Archie to fully believe in rainbow wizards and I’ll let myself believe in them too.