Do You Believe in Dragons?

Dragon 1

“Mummy, are dragons real?”

Big Brother is five years old. Nearly six. He loves stories of knights and dragons. He wants to be a superhero when he grows up so he can protect people.

“Are they extinct?” he asks.

I don’t know how to answer.

I feel like I’m standing on a tightrope, my position precariously balanced between two core beliefs.

I believe in honesty always.

But I also believe in fairies and dragons and elves.

Salvatore quote

So I stand, unsure how to cross the gaping chasm between truth and imagination in a way that doesn’t disrespect my son’s question.

I must delve into my own beliefs. I question them; turn them over and over in my mind; put them to the test.

(This is one of the great wonders of parenthood — the way our children push us to examine our own feelings and become better, stronger people.)

I do believe in dragons.

But do I believe dragons are out there, ready to fly forth from their hiding places at any moment and raze our cities to the ground?

Dragon 2


Probably not.

It’s fairly unlikely.

Do I believe that was true once-upon-a-time?


Scientists tell us that dragons were never real, but scientists aren’t always right.

As a friend of mine recently blogged,Β not finding something doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there.Β And scientists learn new things every day.

The Brontosaurus never existed. Dinosaurs may not have been cold-blooded reptiles. New living species of plants and animals are discovered every day. Who’s to say what will be discovered in the future?

Maybe we’ll find dragon fossils.

Maybe we’ll find dragons.

But even if we don’t…

I’ll still believe in dragons.

I stand on that precipice while my son watches me expectantly, secure in the knowledge that his mother knows everything. Not yet old enough to understand how much I don’t know.

Dragon 3

So I look him in the eye and I say…

Nothing for a second. Instead,Β I gather my thoughts.

Then I cross that chasm of doubt, the chasm spanning untruth and disbelief. And I do it one slow step at a time.

“No one has claimed they’ve seen a dragon in a very long time,” I say.

“In fact, it’s been so long, most people don’t think dragons were ever really real. Some people think dragons are just stories. Some people think dragons are still alive but they’re very good at hiding. And some people think dragons are extinct.”

My beautiful son looks up at me, and his lips curl into a smile.

“I knew it,” he says.Β Then he skips off to play.

A minute later, I hear him telling himself a story about dragons and I smile.

I believe

Do you believe in dragons?


Filed under Life With Kids, Opinion

30 responses to “Do You Believe in Dragons?

  1. I do.

    I am not certain what they are, but I believe there was something that lead to the reports of dragons.

    • You know, Dave, sometimes I hit the publish buttons on my posts and then I set back and hold my breath. What if people think I’m crazy? This was one of those times. Your comment completely and utterly made my night. Thank you.

      • I know that feeling, so it is good to stem it in another.

        Of course having me agree with you might just mean we are both crazy. πŸ™‚

      • Growing up, I remember my Dad often quoting this to my grandmother (his MIL):

        “All the world is strange except for thee and me. And even you art a little odd.”

  2. Robbie Eberhardt

    I was obviously at work when this happened but, frankly, I have rarely been more proud of you, Jo. I couldn’t have come up with a better answer. Wonderful πŸ™‚

  3. Alex Hurst

    This is a wonderful post, and something I would love to reblog, so I can save it forever on my own roll. Would you mind?

  4. It’s probably a very hard concept for a 5-year-old to grasp, but I do believe that the worlds inside my mind are no less real for their existing only inside my mind. Somewhere in my head, at this very moment, a few neurons are tumbling about, describing the shape and form of a dragon, the feel of the wind as it beats its wings, the heat of its fire, the roughness of its scaly hide, the glow of its eyes. Every conceivable nuance of the thing is fully formed in my mind. The physical reaction within the cells of my brain is a real phenomenon, even if they are a reaction not the physical reality of a living, breathing dragon, but instead to the metafictional idea of the dragon.

    In other words, dragons may not be objectively and technically real (i.e. there’s no such thing as dragons)… but within the subjective reality of my own thoughts and perceptions, there is something like a reality to them (here, there be dragons).

    • That’s a similar mindset to my own, when I set and analyse (read: obsess over) my own thoughts. I actually cringe a little whenever I hear/say something is “just” a story, or “just” a legend, etc, because the “just” implies a value judgement on the worth and veracity of the thing. Just because something isn’t physically present doesn’t mean it isn’t real — that is, after all, the very basis for the concept of faith.

      • That is true. I’ve come to the conclusion that my heart and my mind describe a certain reality. I can believe that simultaneously with believing that the world is a knowable place that is best described by scientific evidence. I suppose I’m quite like the White Queen in that way.

  5. Personally, I’d have to see a dragon or a dragon skeleton to believe they were ever truly real. But you did answer that question very well.

  6. i love here how your son has shown how intelligent children are but also how determined to stay in their fairytale land they are – they have no real knowledge of the adult world they will someday come to live in so the most concerning matter to them is the existence (or not so) of the creatures in their imagination.

    I think you were right to tell your son the truth – he clearly doesn’t care either way πŸ˜€ hope he and his dragon buddies have fun and play for many years to come πŸ™‚

  7. A delightful post…

    I want to believe in dragons.

    I will continue to love dragons, whether they can be proved, or not.


  8. I believe in faith, which opens the mind to endless beliefs.

    • I love the way you Believe, Lenore. I can honestly say, I’ve never in all my life (including many years of attending various churches) come across anyone who Believes in such an open-minded, compassionate way. ❀

  9. I do no believe that dragons ever walked the earth. But I also believe that doesn’t mean they’re not real.

  10. Alex Hurst

    Reblogged this on Alex Hurst and commented:
    I really love this post. I luckily lived in a household that encouraged imagination and the heart’s logic. A very enjoyable read and a wonderful writer; excellent!

  11. i really like this post about how we deal with our ideals and the truth that planted on society. but i never lose faith in my beliefs. so yes, i believe in dragons πŸ˜€

  12. Pingback: A for Amethyst Dragon | J. Keller Ford ~ Young Adult Author

  13. I love your answer and I think it is just what he needed to hear.

Speak to me.

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