Back when my cousin was six, she used to be afraid to lie in bed alone at night, fearful that wicked witches such as Cruella De Ville and the various evil characters in stories I used to tell her would come and get her. I would lie with her, but my aunt called me out, concerned I was preventing her from falling asleep.
My solution was to stitch her a crown, a silver crown, inspired by Robert O'Brien's book The Silver Crown. The crown, I told her, would protect her from all evil, and keep her safe. She just needs to put it on where she is afraid. My cousin, all grown up now, still has the crown, and although it's too small for her now, she keeps it by her bed and holds it when she needs comfort. She tells me its magic still works.
This week Jesse turned six. He has his own fears - he's afraid to go to the studio by himself, and various parts of our garden, in case he be spirited away by ghouls or ghosts. This is not my doing! I never told him any scary stories! But I have been working on a solution. I stitched this crown from him, making it as magical as I possibly could. I chose an exquisite blue and gold fabric that shimmers, and when I gave it to him I explained the fabric was made from mermaid hairs and threads of the ocean.
I wasn't sure what he'd make of it when I gave it to him. He wanted lego for his birthday, and transformers, and toy cars.... and I suspected that a handmade crown might rate rather lower than a pile of brighly coloured plastic. I didn't give him the crown in the morning when he opened all his other presents. I saved it until just before bedtime, and then finally pulled it out, a last secret present.
When he opened it he was overawed. "This is the BEST present in my whole birthday!" he told me. He put it on and he could feel the magic. I was so touched - I really wasn't sure... but since then he's worn it every day. He wore it when he hurt himself, and said it soothed him. He wore it after an argument with Paula. He wore it to go to the studio by himself... and sometimes he puts it on just to enjoy it. I hope he gets to enjoy its magic for as long as my cousin....
And secretly.. I'm proudest of all that my boy can recognise and value something handmade above a piece of lego.