The Pretend Struggle is Very Real


 The pretend struggle is very real in our house. “Mommy, is Ronald McDonald real?” asks my 5 year old as we pass a McDonald’s. “And what about the other one that steals hamburgers? Is he real?” Um….yes? Or wait, no? Ronald is, but the Hamburglar isn’t??? I don’t know what the right answer is, but more importantly, am I going to remember what I said the next time she asks? That is the question.  

The Pretend Struggle is Very Real

My memory was not great pre-kids, but now that I’ve had kids, it’s even worse, so having to keep up with what characters are real, and their related stories is starting feel overwhelming. And while I’m good with Santa Claus and Elf on the Shelf, thanks to the detailed book with which she came, it’s all these others that are a struggle.

Real or Pretend?
Detailing the list of Christmas requests with Santa

Where does the Tooth Fairy live and how does she know that I lost a tooth? From where does the Easter Bunny come? Does he live in the North Pole, too? And what about the Disney characters???  At a friend’s Moana themed-party, Moana surprised the kids. What an honor!!! But when we headed to the bathroom, and I saw Moana go in to change just ahead of us, I panicked and quickly redirected my child. I wasn’t ready to blow that fairy tale, and then answer all the questions that would follow. When Moana came out in her regular clothes, she and I locked eyes, and she knew. She quickly ducked through a restaurant while I, once again, turned my daughter another way.

Real or Pretend?
Meeting a favorite fairy tale princess, Cinderella

What about when I have to cover for characters that scare them? Leprechauns, anyone??? Do I get a hall pass for those little guys? My younger daughters are petrified of the naughty leprechauns that come in to wreak havoc on their classrooms or who could, according to the teachers, do the same to our house. At what point can I just tell them not to worry because they aren’t real anyway?!?!?!?

And then there are the mermaids. What to say about the mermaids. When we were at the doctor’s office recently, my oldest told the nurse that when she grows up, she wants to be “a princess, a pumpkin bread maker and a mermaid.” The nurse said that sounded amazing, but then she looked at me, and said, “Now Mom, do we think mermaids are real or fake?” I was totally blindsided by the unexpected question. “Um, we think they’re real?” I quietly asked/responded.

See what I mean? The pretend questions are endless, and I feel totally unprepared. When we got BOOed at Halloween, did the neighbor do it or was it really a ghost, I asked her. She said it was a ghost. Well, I thought we could be in on this together, so I corrected her and told her the neighbor did it. Now we can do it to him, but we can’t tell him. It wasn’t even three minutes after we left treats on his doorstep that she saw the neighbor and ran down the street yelling that she had just BOOed him.

And with that, I knew that the pretend struggle is still very real in our house. She’s not ready for reality, so for now, I’ll have some fun with where these characters live and how they come to be. Since we’ve met the princesses that live in the Magic Kingdom, I think it’s about time we take a trip to Weeki Wachee and see where these mermaids live anyway.

Real or Pretend?
Just another princess story that half the time I forget…


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