Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Changing World

Last weekend, we went up to visit my in-laws, who live in a town about 3 hours north of us. It's a very pretty town and a bit of a summer holiday destination, so there are some family entertainment areas around the town.

This year, we decided that Pk was old enough to visit Story Park. I had never been but I had heard about it. It has a few rides for little kids, a train, parks and, the reason for its name, little story houses featuring characters from popular childrens' stories. Pk was in love! As we walked around, I have to admit, I had one of those times when I become a product of where I was raised - I am, by experience, a city girl and while I really love many of the values that go with a smaller place (slower pace of life, increased contact with people from spheres other than my own, less pressure to "make it", etc), at times, the urban snob emerges and this was one of those times. We came to the Snow White house. I kid you not, it was a little house with cheap wood paneling (of the type you would see in someone's 1970's rec room), a statue of Snow White and 7 garden gnomes (again, think 1970's suburbia). Pk thought it was pretty marvelous (if only I could see the world through the eyes of an almost three year old) but to me, it just looked really tacky. Pk had a nice time and other than when my m.i.l. spent three minutes hanging over the railing trying not to throw up after going on a ride with Pk, we all had a nice time.

Later in the day, when the kids were napping, I sat with my journal writing about what had happened and I got reflecting on how much the world has changed. As a child, I would have adored a place like the one we had visited. That pleasure would have lasted quite a bit longer than it probably will for Pk. I remember adoring going to the C.N.E., Toronto's big agricultural fair (or, at least, those were its origins). It was grotty, tacky, dirty and, in some cases, bordering on dangerous but we adored it. We looked forward for weeks to going - it was truly one of the highlights of the summer. We loved the little doughnuts that we watched being made and ate hot with either icing sugar or cinnamon sugar. We always played the fishing games, knowing that we would win incredibly tacky prizes. We wandered buildings looking at livestock, snacked on food samples and saw the "latest and greatest" in home gadgets. There was an "Around the World" pavilion that featured shopping from other countries and it felt very exotic. To us, the C.N.E. was the best.

And then, along came Wonderland. Canada's Wonderland was a big, glitzy amusement park. It was clean, the rides were safe and it was horribly expensive. Everything was bright and exciting and loud. Immediately, we saw the C.N.E. for the slightly dingy event that it was. Something that had been so exciting became something that we couldn't be bothered with. It was something you did if you couldn't afford Wonderland or didn't have a way to get there. In some ways, the C.N.E. became something that was viewed as being kind of pathetic, a kind of a joke (they had a few years when they struggled with ride accidents which made it even more of a joke).

What really hit me was that there is a kind of loss of innocence that makes me sad. Pk's glee at the silly little houses and the old, tired rides and a vastly-overpriced little dish of ice cream was a pleasure to watch. I know it's easy to idealize the past and the new, the glitzy and the sophisticated make our lives exciting in wonderful new ways. On the other hand, it is sad when we begin to see things as they are, when the magic wears off. I know that Pk's childhood will contain a number of those losses of magic and I think I will be sad when each of those losses comes. Unfortunately, my experience in the last few years has been that we have less and less capacity to see magic (I immediately think of the child in dh's class who brought a teddy bear for show and tell and proceeded to tell the class that he didn't want to share it because it was stupid because it didn't need batteries and didn't do anything).

Me, I want some of that magic back. I know that it is easier said than done but I am really trying to see the world through Pk's eyes and enjoy the magic that is there. I want to silence that snob and savour those tastes, sounds and allow myself to feel that excitement. Being able to see the world through my childrens' eyes is one of the greatest gifts of motherhood for me.

Now, I have a craving for doughnuts and popcorn shrimp!


  1. I don't know, I think you can keep some of it at bay for a while, at least. PP went to Centreville two years ago right before we had The Bun, and thought it was the greatest thing she had ever done. She still won't watch most movies, because they are too scary, is happy watching Treehouse TV, and thinks she's really grown up when she wears a belt. A belt! You can keep it a bit, even now, I think.

  2. I think a lot of that has to do with what responsible parents you have been. I hope to take Pk to Centreville next summer - I loved it as a kid and taking the ferry was always fun, too! I am hoping to keep the scary movies at bay, too - at this point, Pk thinks that "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" (a Veggietales movie) is too scary!

  3. I watched that Veggietales movie, and I found it a bit scary myself, to be honest. The idea of cheese puffs with teeth is horrifying in my opinion! As for losing the magic, I hear you. I try to keep my imagination alive as much as I can, and it is easier when you have children and can try to view the world the way they do. I hope to keep that as long as I live!