On any given day I may encounter pirates searching for treasure, waiters serving fly pie soup, or woodland trolls with rotting teeth and an insatiable hunger for goldfish crackers. I take out the trash only to return to a houseful of screeching, flapping pterodactyls. Whoever said dinosaurs are extinct has never been to our house.
Worlds spin within worlds, their boundaries blur. Cody and Carter, ages 6 and 4, are the great creators of these worlds and the actors who play the parts within them. So far I am still allowed entrance into this enchanted world of theirs. And I must be ready for most anything.
One moment I am an ordinary mom making lunch, and the next I am a robot whose batteries have run down. I jerk to a stop, knife in midair, watching as a glob of sticky peanut butter threatens to slide off the knife and plop onto the counter while my robot self waits for the boys to bring me fresh batteries.
Some days we fly to distant planets or pretend to be spit bugs building homes in the woods in the front of our house (with spit, of course). With every adventure we go on, with every world we enter, I find myself trying to insert a teaching moment.
Almost six years ago I traded in my microscope and petri dishes, the tools of my trade as a microbiologist, and took up the tools of a stay-at-home mom: patience, a vivid imagination and lots of Lysol wipes.
The years of baby food flinging and potty training crawled while the days of inquisitive toddlers and long, lazy trips to the park flew. This fall Carter will be starting kindergarten, and the house will be empty of children more days than not. Their magical worlds and desire to learn will go with them to school, tucked into their little backpacks.
The more I think of this the more I find that I want to crawl into their backpacks and go along with them.
It is with this in mind that I have decided to go back to school and obtain a master’s degree in elementary education. I want to be a part of the excitement that comes from learning. I want to make a difference, and I want to continue to view the world through the eyes of a child.
About a month ago I started the process. My timing was either very good or very bad depending on how you look at it. When I called the college of my choice to gain more information, I was told the deadline for admittance was the following day.
I allowed myself about 10 seconds of panic and self-doubt, and then I dusted off my superhero cape and jumped.
Since that phone call I have not had much time to play astronauts. I have turned down several invitations to stuffed animal birthday parties. I have had to study more than play.
When I start to get overwhelmed, I stop and listen to the world one wall over. In that world, Cody and Carter are having an intense conversation, something to do with the merits of stinky socks in magic potions. I get up from my studies and tiptoe through the kitchen to peer around the corner. The boys are using one of my large Tupperware containers as a cauldron. They begin to giggle, strip off their socks and add them to their pretend magical potion.
I smile and duck out of sight, glad to know that their make- believe world is still close by.Nancy Magnusson is one of five reader columnists whose work appears on this page. She lives with her husband and their two young sons just outside of Gig Harbor. They enjoy focusing on the simple things in life and taking the road less traveled. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.