I Believe in Magic…

Watching a movie together, his sweaty brown legs intertwined with mine, Cooper asks, “So, Mom, is magic real?”


The approved answer is, of course, no.

But I’m conflicted.  Telling a child that magic isn’t real feels like telling him that despite their angel-like powdered heavenliness, donuts, although delightful, aren’t very good for you.

It’s true, but feels wrong.

To tell him magic doesn’t exist is to negate half the books I read him that suggest otherwise.   The Chronicles of Narnia.  Five Children and It.  The Velveteen Rabbit.

He’s smart.  He knows that Santa is really mommy, working up a sweat filling stockings with Cracker Barrel candy sticks, oranges, and the year’s newest pennies.

Not having lost any teeth yet (our kids are on the protracted tooth-loss schedule), he hasn’t any first-hand experience with the Tooth Fairy, but his older siblings fill his ears with her magical offerings, if only you sit still while mom pulls out your wiggly teeth with pliers or (preferably), a piece of toilet paper.

At present, Cooper lives in a Star Wars world, dressing up like Obi Wan Kanobi or (sigh) Darth Maul, acting out the perennial battle between Good and Evil.  He jumps on the tramp, pretending to be some athletic star he isn’t.  Every night I tell  him the mythical tales of Dexter, The Restless Polar Bear, who has become as real to him as his dogs, Kodiak and Sasha, and his five flesh and blood siblings.

What’s a mother (who herself tried to get to Narnia several times between the years of 1979 and 1984) to do, then, when asked point blank, Is magic real?

I’ll tell you what she does:

She begs the phone to ring.

He rescues her from lying:

“Do you not know?”

No, Cooper, not really.

Common sense and book knowledge and the second law of thermodynamics tell me that, no, magic doesn’t exist.

But the truth is, she thinks it does.  Maybe not what people normally call magic.   But how do you explain the following?

Santa’s sled marks that both she and her sister witnessed one Christmas.

The time she and the same sister simultaneously drew one solitary line on a piece of paper to describe the word ‘atmosphere’ in a game of Pictionary.

The dream she had about a person she hadn’t thought about in ten years, whose birthday, as it turned out, was the very next day.

The knowledge, delivered just in time, of what a certain boy’s note would say, word for word, before it reached her eyes.

Not magic, exactly.  But magical.

So, Cooper, to answer your question:  Officially, no, magic isn’t real.  Neither is Santa.  Or the Tooth Fairy.  Or mommy and daddy’s hedge fund.

But, off the record…

just between you and I…


I believe…

magic is..

on some level…

most definitely…

without question…