Real Life Make Believe

I have a hard time lying to my kids. Therefore I cringe every time they ask me if something is “real.”  IMG379

I know that children and adults have very different concepts of “real,” and so my young boys might not be mature enough to realize that something they “see” is pretend. So normally when they ask me if something is “real” I reply with something diplomatic like, “What do you think?”

It works well with questions like: “Is Hogwarts real?” and “Are Megaladon’s real?”

Deep down I don’t think it’s lying if I go along with their make-beliefs. I certainly don’t want to be the one that stomps out their imaginations and crushes their creativity. But lately they are killing me with their fantastical realities.

Here are a few examples of how “real” our life has been lately:

Gingerbread Revenge

A couple of months ago I wrote about our Gingerbread tragedy. You can read about that here. It was highly traumatic.

I thought we had put the gingerbread cookie fiasco long behind us. I even vowed never to make the mischievous men again. Then my 6-year-old came down with a stomachache. He was positive that the one gingerbread cookie he ate was taking its revenge on his belly. He went so far to tell me that he saw a YouTube video of a gingerbread man attacking someone’s insides. Seriously? Is it revenge?  (Or just indigestion?)

We spotted evidence of those pesky men again last week. They stomped all over our driveway during a snowstorm. There were “gingerbread” prints scattered all along our pathway to our detached garage. (That or they were just melted circles where I had tossed rock salt onto the cement the day before.)

Cupid spotting

My four-year-old came home from preschool one day with Valentine’s Day stickers. He and his older brother asked me about the bow-and-arrow holding naked angel sticker. I told them it was cupid – a baby angel who flies around on Valentine’s Day in his birthday suit shooting people with heart-tipped arrows, making them fall in love.

All day Feb. 14 we “saw” cupid flying around our hometown. We went to a basketball game as a family that evening and spotted cupid dozens of times zooming through the night sky.

On our way into the stadium we saw a long white, pencil-thin pole in the parking lot. They were certain that it was the back to one of cupid’s arrows. (That or just a piece of trash that had been run over multiple times.)

After they were jumping around, thrilled that they found some cupid evidence, I didn’t have the heart to tell them I thought it was garbage. Instead I said something like, “Don’t touch it, it might still have a love spell on it.”

Power to the Rangers

My boys have been training for weeks now to be Samurai Power Rangers. They have been doing their own form of sit-ups and push-ups as well as punching, kicking and sword whacking nearly every pillow in my home. They have masks, spin swords and morphers to assist in their training.

One day while practicing their ninja skills I heard loud, happy screaming from the living room. Their spin swords were shooting off light! (That or the sun was just reflecting off of the silver base of the sword, flashing a burst of light onto our living room walls.) But they were convinced it was a sign that they were true ninjas!

Spy Signal

A while ago my boys were playing with real walkie talkies. They were running around the house shouting things like, “over and out,” and “please repeat that.”

Suddenly someone else jumped onto the same frequency and they picked up another message.

Of course it was a nearby spy. (That or a local hunter or someone simply using a walkie talkie for work.) They tried for hours to communicate with the other person. They carried those black walkie talkies around the house for days trying to send signals to the “spies.” But they never heard them again.

Fossil Find

Last week my boys were paleontologists – brushing off stones and studying them with magnifying glasses. They were certain they had unearthed authentic dinosaur fossils that were buried in my front flowerbed. My oldest began making a fossil discovery checklist. It included things like: it smells like dirt, it has scratches on it, etc.

We have found “fossils” in our yard before. It’s been all I could do a couple of times to talk my 6-year-old down from driving our discoveries straight to the Natural History Museum.

I have a very active imagination. I still believe there are monsters lurking in the corners of my basement. But I am 99.9 percent certain that these “fossils” are just ordinary rocks. I’m not about to embarrass myself in public by claiming there are dinosaur bones beneath my humble home.

So to appease my 6-year-old son, I decided we would write a letter to the Dinosaur Park in Ogden – a place we frequently visit – asking them how to determine if a fossil is really a fossil. We mailed the letter and less than a week later we got a reply. My boys were thrilled that someone wrote back!

The education coordinator at the park didn’t know the exact scientific method for authenticating fossils, but she forwarded our letter on to the man who runs the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake. Hopefully he’ll be able to clear the air on our “fossils.”

I’m sure that if we find out our bits of rock aren’t from ancient creatures, it won’t stop my boys from digging around the yard looking for other dinosaur pieces. Because, the one thing I have learned from my creative kids is you can’t stop their imaginations from rolling.

So while I admit that I don’t like “lying” to my children, I’ve decided it’s more fun to live in the world of pretend. It’s more magical, more adventurous. And there really isn’t any harm in it.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to live in a world where rocks are bones, cookies come alive and a chubby naked baby shoots people on Valentine’s Day?

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