In a FB discussion a while ago it was implied by some (who don’t know me) that I’m a stick in the mud, dream crusher of a mother who didn’t “let” her kid believe in Disney princesses, unicorns, dragons, and Bubble Guppies- as in, my 3yo knows those things are pretend/make believe and it was horrible of me to disabuse her of the notion that cartoons actually exist.
Just because those things are pretend/make believe doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy playing make believe. She knows she can use her imagination to think up anything at all, not just what marketing execs at Disney want her to think about when she’s parked in front of the Disney Channel. I’m glad that when she plays princess, she just thinks up what kind of princess she wants to be- and isn’t just choosing which Disney princess to be.
However, what really gets me, what I fail to fathom, is the notion that only pretend things hold wonder. Have you seen a Cheerio under a microscope? What about a flower petal? Salt? Hair? It’s pretty neat.
The actual world, and all the things that actually exist within it are wondrous. Stars and comets, Princess Di and Queen Noor, dinosaurs and narwhals, Sally Ride and Jaques Cousteau- all real and all wonderful and all amazing and all more enthralling than anything Disney might insidiously market to my kid.
Disney has it’s whole “When you wish upon a star” mumbo jumbo, but it was pretty freakin’ awesome to stand in our driveway and watch the Minotaur rocket shoot across the New York sky as it launched from Wallops Air Force Base (click on the link to see the schedule of launches and the map of where the launches are visible). To then run inside and watch videos of the launch from the ground, learn about rockets, figure out why it looked the way it looked in the sky, etc. was also awesome. To have Mabel ask for pictures of the rocket launching to take for show and tell was awesome. To spark her interest in space an space exploration was awesome. Disney can’t top that.
Distinguishing the real from the make believe doesn’t steal her child-like wonder, it opens her child’s eyes to the wonder that is around her every day, even if most grownups are oblivious.