Tag Archives: imagination

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

No.

Probably not.

It’s fairly unlikely.

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

Yes.

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

As a friend of mine recently bloggednot finding something doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there. 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, 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. 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?

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Imaginary Friends

When I was a small child, I had two imaginary friends: Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. They were my constant companions, playmates, and confidantes. Even though I had a brother who was close to me in age, I used to play with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum all the time. Soon after my sister was born (I was 6-years-old at the time), I decided I didn’t need them anymore. There was no room in the car for them with 3 kids in the back seat, so when we went for a drive, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum would have to follow us in their own car. One day, they got lost. I never saw them again.

These days, I have plenty of imaginary friends — but I like to call them “characters” and keep them mostly confined to the written page. Big Brother, on the other hand, has a host of them he likes to play with.

He has two favourite imaginary friends: Joey and Big Brother Number Two.

Joey is a sweet, quiet boy. He’s a bit littler than Big Brother, and Big Brother is quite protective of him. Joey has trouble speaking sometimes, and “talks with his hands” instead of his voice. Joey likes reading, colouring, jigsaw puzzles, and other quiet activities. He’ll join in with rowdier games sometimes, but he’s not very good at them. Big Brother is often to be found sitting quietly, having little conversations with Joey about life, the universe and everything.

Big Brother Number Two is the same age, height, and appearance as Big Brother. BB#2 likes running races, climbing, jumping, yelling, and anything NOISY. He’s rowdy and rambunctious, and equally good as Big Brother at all things active and adventurous. He doesn’t like quiet activities, though, and will often “go home” at quiet time. Big Brother doesn’t confide in BB#2 — he argues with him. I’ve heard Big Brother walking around the house saying, “No, I’m the real Big Brother! No, I am! I am!”

Less popular imaginary friends include Robot: a bad influence if ever there was one. Robot only visits when Big Brother is tired. Robot is responsible for making a mess, arguing back, and refusing to pick up toys. The moment he shows up these days, I go and open the front door and tell him it’s time to go home.

One of the amazing thing about imaginary friends is the effort that we, as parents, will go to accommodate them: “Of course Joey can come in the car with us. Let me open the door for him.”, “Of course Joey and BB#2 can stay for dinner. Yes, they can have plates, too.”, “No, Robot isn’t allowed to sleep over. Let’s go and wave goodbye to him.”

But just in case I ever get carried away and need a reality check, Big Brother is quick to remind me: “Mummy, they’re not real. I just made them up.”

Did you have imaginary friends as a kid? Do your children have them? How far do you go to accommodate them?

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Filed under Life With Kids