Real or Pretend?

The other day in the car, BB and I were playing a made-up game, as we often do in the car.  I call this one, “Real or Pretend?”  It went something like this:

Me: Dragons… real or pretend?

BB: Pretend.

Me: Yup.  How about Mini Coopers?  Real or pretend?

BB: Real.  Bert is real.

Me: Uh huh.  It would be kind of hard to ride in a pretend car.  Santa Claus… real or pretend?

BB: Pretend.

Me: Easter Bunny?

BB: Pretend.

Me: Tooth Fairy?

BB: Pretend.  How about walking trees?

Me: Pretend. That would be strange, but I’ve seen them in a movie.  What about pandas? Real or pretend?

BB: Uh, real… and pretend and stuffies (that’s what she calls her stuffed animals). 

Me: Wow, yeah.  There are real ones and cartoon pandas and you have a lot of stuffie pandas.  Isn’t that interesting?

BB: What about buildings?

Me: Real.  What about dinosaurs?

BB: Pretend.

Me: No, they really did live once.  But they don’t anymore.  So, I’m not sure what that makes them.

BB: They were real; then they all died.  Now they are bones.

Me: Yeah, that one is complicated. 

This went on for a while, until we moved to a rhyming game.  BB loves to rhyme.  What was interesting to me is that we have never told her that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real and she’s just beginning to hear about the Tooth Fairy at school.  We’ve been a bit agnotistic about Santa Claus, letting her form her own conclusion.  It appears that she has.  I made an effort not to tell her what I thought about this for now.  I think I’ll have the same approach to religious issues, bringing it up, but not telling her what to think unless she asks.  I don’t think any child is an atheist any more than they can be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist,  a Democrat or a Republican.  Perhaps they are all agnostics or skeptics, as they certainly question more than any other people.  I’ll expose her to the issues, in age appropriate ways.  Tell her what I think, as it makes sense, what others might think (to teach tolerance of ideas – I bet she’s aware that some of her friends think Santa Claus is real) and we’ll see what she thinks as we go.  It’s so much fun finding out.


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