Lately Kaleb's been trying to distinguish between the real and the imaginary. That's a tough job for a 3 1/2 - year old. Two weeks ago he woke up and asked if the sharks were still outside. I looked at him for a minute, trying to see if he was sleep walking. He was awake.
"What, Kaleb?" I asked.
"Are the sharks and the water still outside?" he said.
"There are no sharks or water outside."
"Well, I had a dream that there were sharks and water outside and then Scooby and Shaggy came and saved me," he said.
My kids never watch Scooby Doo so I wasn't quite sure how he even knew who Shaggy was, but I was grateful that they had saved him while I had been sleeping and dreamless in the room next door.
"That was a dream, sweetie," I said. "That wasn't real."
Kaleb's face was set. "Go check, Mom."
It wasn't until I had raised the blinds and proved to him that the sharks and the water had evaporated when he awoke that he believed me. Imagination can be a tricky thing when you're a toddler.
This confusion has extended beyond his dreams. Lately he asks whether things are real or pretend.
"Are trees real or pretend?" he asks.
"Trees are real."
"Is wind real or pretend?" he asks.
"Wind is real."
"Are cartoons real or pretend?" he asks.
"Cartoons are pretend."
And then one day on the way home from church. "Is Spiderman real or pretend?"
I could hear his grunt of disapproval from the car seat in the back.
"Is Jesus real or pretend?" he asked.
"Real," I said.
"NO," he cried. "I want Spiderman to be real and Jesus to be pretend."
I wonder how many Family Home Evenings it will take to work our way through that one.