When I was in high school my best friend’s kid sister tried out for the middle school cheer leading squad. This is Texas and we take cheer leading seriously…way too seriously if you ask me. The kid sister was extremely talented — a great dancer with amazing moves and a smile that lit up the room. But…she was also a little shorter, and chubby, and – good heavens alive – was not a blonde. So…because her looks “didn’t quite fit” she did not make the squad, and there were many other girls who did not make it either.
They were given a pat on the back, some were ushered into mini-vans by angry parents who had invested time and who knows how much money into gymnastics classes and cheer school, and they were also given a consolation poem. I can’t remember the whole poem but I do remember the first line… “if you cannot be a tree, be a shrub.” She tearfully showed me the poem and then started crying all over again.
Well. It was clear that this was totally not acceptable, that these children were being bullied by the very people supposedly put in place to help them.
One of my favorite teachers says: “if you cannot change it, make it holy” and that is exactly what we did. We went to my house, a car load of crying girls, took the stupid poems and set them on fire in the kitchen sink. Then we scattered the ashes to the four directions and took turns telling each other what we liked about ourselves and one another.
That little ritual did not change the fact that none of the girls I was taking care of hadn’t made the team. It did not magically make the next day totally OK for them. But there was healing, and laughter, and they woke up the next morning knowing that life would go on and that their worth was not determined by whether or not they “made the team.”
If you cannot change it, make it holy.
If you have a child that you love and they are experiencing a hard time…at school, in life, with their teachers or their peers, please know that you are not alone. And while there are excellent practical resources for parents and caretakers, I like to focus on the more magical and holy-making possibilities.
So, whether your child is experiencing bullying, mean behavior, or simply going through an award and difficult time, here are some sacro-magical approaches that can help:
Sweeten it up — Sugar has a long and storied use in magic. You can work with sugar in a variety of ways to make life a bit sweeter for your child, my favorite method? The tried and tested sugar jar.
Burn it down — Very much as we experienced with that silly “consolation prize” sometimes the most effective magic is a deep and true banishing. I love setting things on fire and scattering the ashes (and the issues) to the four cardinal directions.
Look in the mirror — Anyone who has read Snow White knows that mirror magic is a real thing. If you have a child who is having a hard time with self-esteem/self-love, the tried and true practice of affirmations may not be enough. What if instead they saw a beautiful blessing or charm inscribed directly onto their bathroom or bedroom mirror? Use washable marker in a color they love and if you feel fancy add the planetary glyph for Venus or Jupiter.
The Power of Touch — For children who experience high stress situations and/or children who are incredible sensitive, shy, and empathic, a talisman is an excellent tool. It provides a literal touch point that can remind and re-orient your child throughout the day to what matters most and what brilliance they bring to the table.
Keep it clean — One of the best ways magically minded parents can support their wee ones is by keeping the house spiritually clean. Take the cleaning one step forward by working with a floor wash or spray that is imbued with qualities your child needs the most such as clarity and success if they are having trouble in school or protection and empowerment if they are being bullied.
Light through the night — Lighting a devotional candle for your child is never a bad idea. You can make a ritual of selecting the right candle, dressing it with your favorite ritual oils/herbs, and then lighting it. Beautiful. Simple. Bright.
Mommy magic is a new series here at Canto. The questions and topics come from moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and caregivers who have school-age children. Traditionally many magical systems belonged under the provenance of women and it was understood that these magics, these “medicines of the home” as one elder named them, were for the betterment of the household and all who dwelled within. That is our focus in this series: practical, how-to, magic-making that encourages healing, wholeness, and blessing.