I try to make the world a magical place for Annie. That’s something my parents did for me when I was a kid, and I can still remember what it was like to think there really might be an elf hiding behind the tree in our backyard, or that I could make a baseball player on TV hit a home run if I wished hard enough for it. Some parents think it’s dishonest to present the world this way (and some even tell their kids the truth about Santa the second they’re old enough to understand it), but I figure reality will make itself known to Annie soon enough, and all of this magic stuff is good for her imagination.
With all of that said…
We reached a point this week where I had to tell Annie that the world may be a magical place, but it ain’t that magical.
Annie was painting with her watercolors when she called me over to show off a tree that she’d painted.
“It’s for Ted,” she told me, meaning the boy-aged hero of the movie The Lorax. “He wants a tree, so I made him one.”
“That’s sweet, Annie. I’m sure he’d love it.”
“I want to give it to Ted,” she said. “Have the mailman take it to him!”
“I don’t know if he can do that. But you know what I’ll do? I’ll take a picture of it and text it to Ted.”
Annie liked this idea and watched with interest as I took a photo of the painting and and hit “send.” Annie smiled, and I – foolishly, it would turn out – felt pretty good about my creative solution.
Annie then asked if she could watch The Lorax, so I put it on and went about doing some work. I could tell as she watched the movie, though, that she was growing more impatient by the minute. She finally burst into tears and said, “Ted doesn’t have a phone, Dad! He’s not getting the text!”
It dawned on me then what she’d been doing… watching the movie and waiting for Ted to pull out his phone and receive our text.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. He got it. They just didn’t show that part. Believe me, Ted has a phone!”
“No, he doesn’t!”
Annie grabbed her painting, ran to the TV, and tried sticking it into the side.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting it in there! For Ted to have!”
I laughed, which Annie did not appreciate as this was serious business, then kneeled and pulled her into my arms.
“This is just a movie, Annie. Ted is just a character like the ones in your story books. We can’t send him the painting even though it is an awesome painting.”
Annie whimpered and ran into her room. I suddenly regretted breaking it down to her like that.
“Wait, Annie!” I yelled as I ran after her. “He got the text! Ted just got the text!”
I realize I’ve now set myself up to have to “text” all of Annie’s favorite characters for a while, but that’s okay. Like I said, reality will make itself known to her soon enough.