CoCo, our three-and-a-half-year–old, has been having nightmares. She shares a room with her sister, Jo, who is two years older and apparently three times wiser.
When CoCo wakes up frightened in the middle of the night, Jo knows just what to say to calm her sister.
Its not real. Mummies are not real.
No more Scooby Do before bed.
Still, Jo is trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t. She brings home worksheets from school where she identifies which pictures show something real (a zebra grazing on grass) versus something make-believe (a zebra holding a burger and wearing sunglasses).
One day out of the blue, Jo asks: Is Captain Hook real?
Immediately I remember a phrase an old college professor of mine often repeated: All stories are true. And some of them even happened.
So, I tell my daughter: Yes, Captain Hook is a real character in the story of Peter Pan. He’s a pirate and pirates are real.
For now our girls have wild imaginations full of fairy tale characters and mystical places. There is certainly something special about believing in magical worlds of fairies and talking animals.
But when do you deliver the harsh reality and how do you explain why we tell our children such fantastical stories?