Thursday, January 8, 2009


We sit at a red light for a while and get tired of waiting, so we blow the red out and it turns green. Sometimes we have to blow on it for a long time, sometimes we just need to get in sync (which might happen to be when Mama sees it turning yellow in the other directions and quickly says "1, 2, 3 Blow!") Regardless, both boys have been doing this task for me for years.

"How does that work?" Bug asked me yesterday.
"Oh, it doesn't really matter." I brushed it off.
"I want it to matter."

I think Bug is very confused right now by magic. We have Santa. We have red lights we blow green. We have a new magic kit that he can perform himself by hiding a little foam fish in his hand. We have an old magic kit that Pook uses (and I've told Pook to not share his secrets). When Bug asks me for the impossible and starts a tantrum, I've been telling him that I can't make the impossible happen; I'm not magic. It's no wonder he's mystified.

I explained to him that what he does with the magic kit is a magic TRICK. I asked him to tell me how he'd turned one fish into two, and he remembered what I'd taught him from the direction book. Then I asked him if the people like Daddy and Pook, who had seen his magic show, thought he had done real magic. "Yes" he agreed. "Do they need to know how the magic worked?" "No" he reluctantly agreed. "Do you need to know how the traffic lights turn green?" "I guess not."

My mom thinks his interest in Santa and magic has to do with his interest in costumes. If he remains Bug when he's in a Spiderman costume, perhaps other things aren't always what they appear either. And I think that believing in things you can't see or understand is ok. Suspending reality can be fun. It can also be very confusing to a four year old. I guess I'm interested in seeing where he goes with all this. I could sit him down and explain it all, but I'd rather let him try to figure it out on his own.


  1. I love this post. I find the twin desires of young children to figure things out or explain and also to believe in the impossible really interesting. For adults, these two things look at odds with one another. But to kids, they don't really seem to be.

  2. Actually, I'm not sure about that. I think they may be at odds for Bug and ok for me. I don't think his questions about Santa and magic are over. I suspect he's going to pull it all together soon and pin me down. I just find it interesting that Pook, the very scientific and inquisitive one, seems fine. He doesn't buy into the traffic lights or magic tricks though....