The last few weeks of no camp and parental work scrambling and no preschool have led to far more television consumption in this house than I would like to admit. Combine that with the onset of four, which has meant a thousand questions about death and birth, and I’ve been dancing in between the real and fictional universe, trying to draw lines in the air that help make the distinction between the two a little clearer to Declan without diminishing the fun and beauty of fiction and fantasy.
Enter questions like:
“Will Santa Claus ever die?”
“Will I ever be trapped in a warp bubble?” (In a kid world where I keep meeting Star Wars kids, mine is Star Trek kid, which I’ve found to be far less common, possibly because it’s easier to describe combat and war than it is to venture into “a warp bubble is a scientific theory, sweetie.”)
We’ve spent a fair amount of time discussing the fact that cartoon characters come out of someone’s imagination, even if they do regular-people type things. Then he sees commercials for things like Dora Live! where cartoon characters seem suddenly touchable. He gets really excited and yells “MOMMY, WE NEED TO GO SEE DORA LIVE! WE NEED TO SEE THE PLACE WHERE DORA EXISTS IN OUR WORLD! DORA! IS IN! OUR! WORLD!”
Sesame Street is one of those shows that I love most of all, but can be hard to explain because of the combo of real people and puppets. Brian Williams recently guest starred on Sesame Street and reported on all of the characters coming down with a case of “Mine-itis.” A chicken kept stealing his microphone and yelling “MINE!” (As much as Dec loves science and documentaries that seem way beyond him, he also loves to get his little kid on.)
So last night, as I was explaining that the president was about to give a speech that was really important to mommy, Brian Williams appeared. Declan’s brow furrowed. He grabbed my chin and turned my face to the screen.
“Mommy? Does Brian Williams live in our world?”