One of the most pleasant surprises of having children is their seemingly boundless creativity. My son and daughter’s ideas and interests help me explore some wonderful and unexpected paths. From their vantage point, the most ordinary place (our backyard, and a few found objects) can become transformed into a setting of magic and wonder.
One afternoon after lunch, they begged me to build some fairy houses. So we wandered outside to see what we could find. We gathered some thin branches, a few leaves, and several pinecones.
About 15 minutes later, we had our first fairy house, built of snipped twigs set deep into the ground that was still wet from a recent rainstorm. We shielded the structure with a roof of cool leaves pulled from a squash plant. My daughter added a small table from her own dollhouse, “so the fairies will have somewhere to eat.”
My son stationed a few pinecones outside of the home as protective elements, and explained, “So any bad guys will get caught on the sharp parts and not hurt the fairies.” I felt a little warmth rush into my heart, thinking of his protective nature for these invisible (but very real) fairies.
We gazed at our creation for a while, and then decided to add an alternate roof of sturdy bark. “Just in case it rains really hard,” my son said.
My daughter loves to swim, so she found a tin can to make a “fairy pool,” so her little friends could bathe and cool off at any time.
The new pool inspired my son to add some other features, which we tested over a small puddle of rainwater lingering at the bottom of their outdoor play structure.
First he crafted a fairy-sized diving board (with the help of a little tape).
“But how will the fairies climb into the pool,” wondered my daughter in concern, looking at the shiny ridged edges of the tin can.
“I know,” said my son, in delight. “We’ll build a ladder!”
And so we did, gently knotting the tiny fibers of a long leaf onto two small twigs.
We thought some more about what we could provide for our fairies. “They do need a potty,” my daughter admitted, with the kind of serene practicality I have come to admire.
So we built a discreet structure, set off with smooth rocks we had collected from our trip to Lake Superior, and the children built a clear path of rocks between it and the main house.
We sat back on our heels to look at our little compound, so satisfied at our efforts.
As the afternoon wore on, my son had another brainstorm. “Let’s make fairy crowns!”
We knew we could use flowers and leaves for the decorations, but what could we use for the actual crown? My daughter rustled through our art cabinet and came up with an easy solution—pieces of “sticky” foam (sheets of craft foam that have paper-covered adhesive on one side. Sturdy paper and double-stick tape would work equally well.)
We cut the foam into the right size to circle small heads, peeled off the protective backing, and the kids set out again in the yard find the best “jewels.”
We were amazed of the beauty of a humble weed when it is placed upon a crown fit for a (child-sized) fairy.
And finally my fairy architects modeled their crowns with pride in the buttery light of the late afternoon. And I felt blessed again, to watch their pure creativity at work again, right in our own backyard.
Alexandra White lives with her husband and two children in Northeastern Iowa. By day she works as an IT operations consultant, and by evening and weekend she enjoys cooking, photography, and crafts. She writes about her family’s adventures at her blog, Talleygilly.