Uh, oh, it’s magic…

The other day, my older daughter was in a public restroom with my wife. When it was time to wash hands, she was absolutely fascinated by the fact that both the water in the sink and the paper-towel dispenser turned on automatically. She turned to my wife and said “The sink is magic!”

It’s interesting to me how much the girls view technology as “magic”. This was evident in our most recent journey out of state.

We took a trip to visit my sister-in-law to celebrate our nephew’s first birthday, which was followed by a conference my wife was attending in a neighboring city a few days later. This involved staying in two different hotels, and the second one had something that blew my children’s minds: it had a snack machine.

Not just any snack machine, mind you. This one was reserved only for guests that were staying on our floor. And the best part–all of the snacks were FREE (provided, of course, that you keyed in the correct password in order to dispense them).

The girls were in awe of this magical device. They could get whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it, as long as the machine wasn’t out of whatever it was they desired. Pretzels, corn chips, bottled water, you name it. All they needed to do was ask. Mommy and Daddy had to rein it in once in a while, and had to explain to them that, once we got home, the free-for-all was going to end. However, as long as the request was not unreasonable, it was granted. Furthermore, it was very convenient (and cost effective) having snacks on hand for when we went out on excursions to places like the park or the campus of my wife’s alma mater.

The girls do, however, have a very basic idea of how some of the “magic” works. For example, they understand that we need electricity in order for some of the things in our house to work, and this lesson was hammered home when we lost power last winter during an ice storm. It was only for 24 hours (we fared a lot better than others, like my mother-in-law, who lost power for several days), but it was enough to show them that the “magic” needs power in order to do its thing. The effect has been long-lasting; sometimes, when a light is turned off in our house, Daughter #1 will say to me “Daddy, the light’s off! We have no power!” I will then explain to her that we do have power, and that the light is simply turned off, usually because we don’t leave the lights on during the day. I will then point to the clock on the microwave or some other device that lights up and say “See? If we didn’t have power, these wouldn’t be on, either.” This will usually reassure her, or at least until the next time she notices a light turned off.

I have vague memories of believing in the magic of these wonderful devices when I was a kid. It didn’t last long, especially since my dad was an electrician and would explain in painstaking detail how they worked. I feel as though there are relatively few magical moments left for the girls, so for now, I will let them believe in it.

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