The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, April 25, 2005

You gotta have faith

In the past week, Julia's been introduced to two fictional characters with dramatically different results.

On Thursday, the Paci Fairy came into our lives after a playground tip from a friend. Julia accepted the Paci Fairy blindly and completely. She never questioned why the voice on the other end of the phone sounded so much like her best friend's Daddy, nor did she seem to wonder how the Paci Fairy made it to our house to pick up her paci and replace it with a gift in only 5 minutes' time. She's been equally accepting of further elaborations on the Paci Fairy tale that I've been making up as I've gone along -- when I assured her on her first night without the paci that the Paci Fairy never would have come if she weren't truly ready to sleep without her paci, she happily snuggled down under the covers, secure in the knowledge that she was ready. The whole experience has gone far smoother than I ever expected -- we've had a few napless afternoons and one or two tearful discussions, but overall, Julia seems to have made the transition easily and confidently. Five days after the fact, she seems to be back to her regular sleep patterns sans-paci and she tells me that while it's still a little hard, it gets easier to fall asleep without her paci every day. Her belief in the Paci Fairy, coupled with the many discussions we've had about her feelings, seem to have done the trick and despite my initial doubts, I owe Brianna's Mommy a great debt of gratitude.

On Saturday night, at our seder, the second imaginary character was introduced. At the end of the seder, Jewish children traditionally open the door for Elijah the Prophet, who is said to visit every seder in the world on Passover, taking a sip of wine from every table. It's a big deal for kids to watch Elijah's wine glass to see if they can see the level go down after Elijah has been invited in -- my brother once commented as a child that Christians may have Santa, but Jews have Elijah and he's even better. (Me, I'd go for the presents over the missing wine, but it was a cute sentiment nonetheless.) Julia's been looking forward to this part of the seder for weeks, and even made a special cup for Elijah at school. She was less than excited with the outcome on Saturday, however. "I didn't see him," she kept saying. "And I didn't see the wine level go down in the cup." She regarded the adults, all of whom assured her that we could see a difference, skeptically. "What was he wearing?" she asked. "Cause I really don't think he was here."

Two made up characters, two totally different responses. And as I think about it now, it's clear to me why. Julia accepted the Paci Fairy because she needed to believe in him to get through a difficult time. Without that same need for Elijah, she was able to really think and question things that didn't make sense. I'm glad to know that she has the good sense to ask questions and not just accept things blindly. But I'm equally glad to know that she can let rational thought go and simply believe when she needs to. Whether she believes in religion, a little bit of magic or mystery, or even just herself, she'll have extra strength when times get hard if she can keep that faith. Long after she's forgotten about her beloved paci, if she can retain her ability to believe, then that will be the true legacy of the Paci Fairy. And if she never believes in Elijah? Well, then there will just be more wine for us.


At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

So cool -- I never knew about Elijah! See what you miss by being raised so Catholic that you don't even meet your first Jewish person until the summer before college? So pleased that you keep up the good Jewish traditions instead of opting for bland American homogeneity. You inspire me to be more Polish and more Catholic for my own children.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Oh so much to say, oh so little time to say it in...that freakin' computer re-install is taking my time. Glad to hear the paci fairy is being good to you! And I love your stories on raising your child in your faith. Really makes me think twice (or three times or four times) about my lackadasical methods, or, lack-there-of, more appropriately ;-)

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Bathroom Reading said...

We had a paci party for my girls (one 4 and one almost 3). They got to have their pacis all through the party (a novelty, because they normally only got them when they went to bed), and at the end of the party, we made a big show of having them throw the pacis away.

I like your idea better.


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