Lately, Jack has been trying to determine what is real and what isn't. He focuses mostly on people.
At first, I found his questions unsettling. Is Curious George real? Well, no. But do I ruin his innocence in a great story? I did tell the truth.
He's been asking the "Is ... real?" for about a month or so. And now I'm really enjoying watching the learning process. I think I might be learning a little myself, too.
Is Elmo real? Well, yes and no. How do you explain the reality of a puppet by the fictionalization of a character? That lead to a wonderful discussion about creating stories.
Jack was very disappointed to learn that Bill, the country kid friend of Curious George on the cartoon show, was not real. "I really like him." I tried to reassure him that he could still really like Bill, he is a pretty great character.
Today's question - is Spiderman real? That was a toughy. I didn't want to destroy his belief in super heroes. The picture of Spiderman that he was looking at was of an actor's portrayal, not a cartoon, making it a little more difficult. At first I tried to defer and say I wasn't sure. But that felt like a lie. So I went back to the character explanation.
But that got me thinking too. Can't characters be real? I mean, can't they come to life in their stories? I can't count the number of books that I have read where I feel like I have a relationship with the characters. And now that we read to the boys so often, we share those feelings about the characters in their picture books too.
These characters become a part of our reality. We talk about what they do, what they look like, what they experience just as much as the "real" people we know. Jack tells me about the things George does at least three times a day.
So how do we decide what is real?