The duty to do magic
Some friends and I were swapping parenting stories last week when my buddy Ric Cochran shared the following anecdote:
"When my son, Nic, was in second grade, about 7 years old, we moved to Florida from Marietta," Ric said. "The move was kind of tough for him. We had no family there, and he missed having relatives around. He especially missed his cousin, Kristin, who was 12 or 13 at the time and he absolutely idolized her. Thought she was the greatest.
"So we're living in Florida and Nic's missing his cousin, and one day, while Nic was in school, Kristin and her family showed up for a visit. It was just too perfect an opportunity to let pass.
"I've always liked doing magic tricks. Mostly just simple sleight-of-hand, make-the-coin-disappear and reappear sort of things, but I was always mixing it up and adding new tricks. Except in Nic's eyes, they weren't tricks. He completely believed I was capable of magic.
"Anyway, I got Kristin to hide in the bathroom and I hung a blanket over the door, and just a few minutes later, Nic got home. Of course, he immediately noticed the blanket and asked why it was there, so I told him I'd been practicing a new trick: making a person appear.
"'Any person?' Nic asked.
"'Not just any person,' I said. 'It'll only work if it's the one person you want to see more than anyone else. And you might as well pick someone who lives far away. If I'm going to do this, let's make it worthwhile.'
"It really wasn't all that hard to lead a kid his age where I wanted him to go," Ric said. "Plus we'd just been talking about Kristin and I knew she'd been on his mind, so I wasn't surprised at all when he said her name.
"'Good choice!' I told him, and then I started waving my hands around and doing the whole hocus-pocus bit, which was Kristin's cue to crouch down right behind the blanket. I finally stopped and got quiet for a few seconds, then I told Nic to yank down the blanket. When he did, Kristin popped up. Nic's eyes went wide and his arms started trembling, then his whole body started shaking.
"It took a while before he calmed down enough to be able to speak, but when he could, he turned to me and asked, 'Do you have enough magic left to get Grandma here, too?'"
Even after becoming older and wiser and understanding what the magic actually was, some children still hold on to their belief that their parents are capable of just about anything. Ric says his son, now a freshman at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, often still looks at him with that same blind faith he had as a child - like his dad has the power to make anything happen.
I've noticed my daughter does that with me, too. It's a responsibility I never thought about before becoming a mom - the duty parents have to know a little about everything, to be able to fix anything, to generally achieve the impossible on a regular basis. It's something I took for granted about my own parents, who really do know a little about everything, are capable of fixing just about anything, and really can achieve the impossible. I don't know how they do it, they just do.
They set the bar high. They're a tough act to follow.
But I hope someday it's going to be just as tough for Celeste.