Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central VA (USA)
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Imagination vs. Reality at 10 yrs.?
I'm babysitting my BFF's DD for a few hrs. each day this summer - she is 10 (Alice). My own DD is 11 (Melody). We've been friends since the girls were babies. Today, I ran into a problem and could use some input from other moms - I'm so confused. OK, so here goes...
My DD comes in the room to say she's frustrated that Alice isn't telling the truth and won't admit it. I asked Alice what was going on, and she said, "We once had a huge spider in our house, it was THIS big (she makes a circle with her arms outstretched), and Mel doesn't believe me. I said, Alice, I don't think spiders get quite that big, I think the biggest one in the whole world is about at big as a dinner plate. Mel says, Ya, Alice - dinner plates aren't THAT big. I said, well, I know that in our imagination we can remember things to be different from what they actually are. Alice says, No, you ask my Mom - it's true, it was really THIS big. Then, I said let's just remember everybody is different, and is this something that you two really want to argue about is it or can you let it go? Reluctantly, they went on to play.
So, when my BFFcomes to get her DD, I explain what happened. I said that I can understand Mel's frustration, because it's obviously not true, but I asked the girls to let it go so they could keep playing. My BFF's response was not what I expected, and now I'm questioning myself...
She said this incident happened when Alice was 4 and the spider was huge, and in Alice's mind she still sees it as huge. When she grows up she'll know it's not true, but for a child it's OK to have a big imagination, and she simply accepts her DD's memory whatever it is. I said, but it's not true! She said, that in the big picture it doesn't matter if a spider isn't really that big. But, for now that's what she remembers. And, by insisting that no spider is that big just doesn't matter, and it's my issue that I had a hard time letting Alice's spider be as it is. But, I said, what about the truth? She said she'll figure it out when she's ready. I said Alice already knows spiders aren't that big. She's 10! I can see letting this go when she's 3-6-ish range when kids can't quite separate fantasy from reality, but at 10 isn't it lying, ignoring reality, and putting a lesser value on honesty?
So, what do you think? Should we correct a child's imagination of things like giant spiders or go along with the fantasies until the child recognizes the difference on their own - even when they have passed the stage of not knowing the difference? She thinks that by always bringing reality into the situation, I am thwarting my child's freedom of imagination - that I'm putting too much pressure on my DD to face reality before she's really ready. I say it has nothing to do with imagination, and everything to do with valuing the truth and not wanting to be wrong.
I'm so confused now, and feeling a little bit guilty - have I thwarted my child's imagination by interjecting the truth? Or is my BFF simply avoiding conflict by letting her child ignore reality? I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have!!