A few months ago, we celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday with a Harry Potter party. She's a big Harry Potter fan and I'm a big fan of getting crafty for my kids' birthdays. I'm no Martha Stewart, by any means, but I like to add a few creative touches and Pinterest is packed with great "Harry Potter party" ideas. I printed Hogwarts house crests and word searches, crafted Quidditch cake toppers, and made games like Pin-the-Scar-on-Harry, Find the Golden Snitch, and Free Dobby, the latter of which is my own creation and involves throwing as many socks as you can into a laundry basket (loads of fun, pun intended). I also made each guest a booklet of spells and a magic wand out of a wooden knitting needle.
The party was a hit, in large part because we followed what I believe to be the golden rule of a successful children's birthday party: Invite very few children. Three of my daughter's friends joined us and the kids had a great time playing the games and casting spells. After cake and present time, while the kids were happily playing, I retreated to my bedroom to give them some space and privacy, because no one wants their mom hanging around, as super cool as she may be.
I listened to them running about casting spells upon each other with their wands. "Expelliarmus!" one would shout, as the others frantically flipped through their booklets to find a counter-spell. They helped each other decipher pronunciations and definitions. Then, I overheard this exchange about the "Reparo" spell:
"What does that mean?" my daughter's friend asked her.
"It's like to repair something," my daughter explained. She continued: "Like repairing split ends."
Her comment gave me pause. It made my stomach churn a little to realize that her only, or at least immediate, connection to the concept of "repair" has to do with split ends, of all superficial things, as if that is all we repair as women.
It was a small comment. It was not heavy with women-as-slaves-to-beauty ideals and it doesn't represent the sum total of her perception of women and who we are in this world. Of course it doesn't. But I still want her to know that as women, we repair so much more than split ends.
We repair ripped jeans and faulty wires and kindergarten crafts gone terribly wrong.
We repair broken dishes and transport trucks and businesses and communities.
We repair little broken hearts with open arms and soft words. We repair big broken hearts the same way.
We repair families and friendships. We repair relationships. And when we can't, we repair ourselves.
We repair ourselves over and over and over again.
I want my daughters to know that our magic is not in our beauty, although our beauty can be spellbinding. Our magic is in our compassion. It's in our curiosity. It's in our tenacity.
Our magic can be seen climbing mountains and corporate ladders. It can be seen standing on stages and standing on guard and standing up for the voiceless and vulnerable.
Our magic can be seen pacing hallways at 2 am soothing babies back to sleep on our shoulders, and it can be seen proudly marching on our streets.
We stupefy with our astounding acts of courage and kindness. We disarm with our smiles, yes, but also with our measured words and gentle touch. We conjure up ideas that make history.
"It's leviOsa, not levioSA," my daughter quotes from the movie, giggling with her coven, as yet unaware that she is a powerful sorceress without her knitting needle wand.
The "Wingardium Leviosa" spell allows the user to make an object levitate. But our magic moves more than objects.
We lighten the room and raise the world.