“Life is deep and simple. Society has made it shallow and complicated.”
I envy my mother’s childhood. Growing up in the orchards of East Kelowna, she had one of those childhoods where the kids would hit the countryside shortly after breakfast and stay out until lunch – or maybe supper – or at least until the hunger pangs brought them home. They had no TV, and only a few toys, and occupied themselves inventing games and stories or adventuring.
I grew up in the middle of town, at a time when parents were starting to feel the need to be protective. Not as protective as today, but we certainly couldn’t go romping for miles around unaccompanied. And we had a television, which absorbed way too many of our hours than I care to admit. It was a good childhood, overall, but not what one would call enchanted.
Now that I have children of my own, I know I’d like for them to live something – if not comparable to my mother (after all, it is a different time and different part of town), at least something with elements of enchantment. Something heavier on the imagination and adventure filled parts and lighter on the TV/video game/toys-that-do-it-all-for-you parts.
It’s why I have a real fondness for a business I discovered about a year ago, called Ellie Bellie Kids. They’re an American business that sells kids toys and gear – most hand crafted – that, according to their website, “nurture creativity and independent play.”
I learned of them when friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that they were holding a give-away for a superhero cape. I entered. I won.
My son has been wearing it for the last year, and exercising his imagination as he does. In addition to superherodom, it transforms him into royalty, magicianship and, most recently, a butterfly. It has also been a blanket for a stuffed toy picnic. I love that it can be anything and everything. It lets him decide. Not enough toys these days do that.
Recently, Ellie Belly held another giveaway. I entered. I won. This time, my prize was a tutu – just the thing for my daughter. While she’s too small still to make the call, I see in her a ballerina, a princess, a flower fairy in her layers of pink and purple tulle.
Today we headed out to save the day in Kelowna’s “Cultural District.” I brought my camera. We scaled some walls, leapt over some (very small) boulders in a single bound, and generally celebrated being young.
Ellie Bellie Kids might not be a familiar brand here in the Okanagan, but their cape and tutu are very much at home.
– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier