Thursday, May 12, 2016

Real versus Make-Believe

My little guy had another rough day at school. Summer is approaching, and he is clearly ready for a break. When he got home from school he kept telling me that he wanted a video game life. He wanted to jump into a video game and become friends with Mario and Luigi. Well, as you all know, Mario from Mario Brothers is not real. My son really believed that Mario was real and that he could escape his problems by porting into a video game. This made me realize that now was the perfect opportunity to have the discussion with my son about real versus make-believe. This is a hard concept for anyone kindergartner, but this concept was going to be much harder to broach with my son.

When we began the discussion, I immediately just went straight out and told my son that Mario is not real. My son was quick to tell me that, "Yes he is real! I see Mario in video games all the time. He is real Mom!!!" I had to tell him that, "No son, Mario is not real." In that moment my little guy was so sad and he was also perplexed. He couldn't quite grasp that Mario was make-believe. In his mind, he can see Mario on a screen, so from his perspective, Mario is real.

I ended up having to use Disney Infinity characters with him so that he could begin to grasp this concept. I showed him how the characters are plastic. I then explained that plastic characters cannot think, feel, or make decisions. My little guy then looked to his older brother and asked, "Do you believe this? Is Mario really fake?" My older son said, "Yes, Mario is fake, he is not real. Someone can dress up as Mario, but that doesn't mean that they are actually Mario. He then said, "Do you remember when we dressed up as Mario and Luigi for Halloween?" My little guy said, "Yes." My older son went on and said, "Were you really Mario? No you weren't, you were still you." I could hug my oldest in that instant. He saved the day in a way that I wasn't quite able to put into words.

At this point, my little guy finally began to grasp the difference between real versus make-believe. His solution to this problem was that he decided in that moment that he wanted to become a professional video game designer. He said, "Mom, if I can't jump into a video game, I would like to become a guy that creates video games. This way, I can design all of the different worlds that are in my brain." I am thrilled that my son came up with this solution. He now knows that he can't escape school by jumping into a video game and that he's going to need to work hard throughout his academic career so that he can become the best video game designer in the world

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