Monday, April 23, 2012

Can Make-Believe Go Too Far?

I have always been so excited by Little Boo's imagination. He is creative and fun and interesting. He comes up with the most amazing ideas and questions and games. Make believe is fun, and it is also a critical part of childhood. But, can it get out of hand?

Little Boo has a friend in daycare, another senior kindergartner. They hit it off immediately last September when  Q joined the daycare. I'm told they have a lot in common, but Q is quieter and has been a great influence on Little Boo. He is by all accounts a great kid, and I don't doubt that for a minute.

But did you know that he is a spy? True story. His whole family actually. And, what's more? His name isn't actually Q. His real name is Indiana Jones. Honest to gosh. But of course all this is a big secret and Little Boo couldn't tell ANYONE. There could be terrible consequences if he did.  Little Boo was super impressed by all this and asked lots of questions about spy tools and gadgets. Q offered that if he brought him a dollar, he'd give him an actual pair of spy glasses that let you see right through things, like people's clothes.


Little Boo seemed pretty caught up in all this. He's a talker, and he couldn't resist telling us all about his exciting friend. Although he did hesitate and made a point of not initially telling us about Q's "real" name, saying it was a big secret and he'd promised.

We had a kind of difficult conversation, trying to convince LB that Q and his family are not spies, while still encouraging make believe play, and being careful not to paint Q as a bad kid. It was a delicate balance with carefully chosen words.

The spy thing we didn't worry about, but when we learned of the proposed cash transaction, we had to speak with the daycare. LB believes in his friend fully, and firmly believed these x-ray vision spy glasses were the real deal. He had to have them. But he knows he needs our permission to spend any money, so he came to us. (These situations are going to get so much more difficult as he grows up!) I'm not sure if the daycare spoke to Q's parents, or just kept an eye on things, but the spy talk seems to have stopped.

I don't know if Q was deliberately trying to deceive LB, or just got carried away with his story. I don't know if LB is just particularly naive (though he seems to question us enough ...). But I do know this worried us. Somewhere along the way the line between make believe and reality blurred, whether in Q's mind (probably not) or in LB's perception (I'm going with this one).

I wanted to end this post with some profound observation or insight into children's make-believe play, but I don't think I have one. We're just stumbling along like everyone else and trying to work with our guys to give them the tools to make good decisions. And of course, Momma Bear always worries.

What about you? Do you have a similar story or concern?

1 comment:

  1. Omigosh. That's hard to do, my daughter always has crazy stories that her best friend tells her and boy, imaginations run wild! I just explain to her that she's just playing pretend and it's not real.


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