Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fantasy/Reality

As I wrote in my last post, Theo's imagination has taken a leap and now informs much more of his (near constant) monologue. The day after we made the image to go with his flying house story, he suddenly started talking about flying saucers.

"What's a flying saucer?" I asked.

"It flies!"

"Ok, what's a saucer?"

"It's a flying SAUCER," he says, near-condescension in his voice.

I have no idea where he got this from *cough*probablyTV*cough* and after some questioning, I'm pretty sure he has no clue what one looks like or that it has anything to do with aliens.

"It flies around and has a mouth and it eats."

Mouths again. "What does it eat?"

"Little flying saucers."

Cannibalism! "What does a teeny tiny flying saucer eat?"

He doesn't respond to that directly but eventually gets to another bit of info: "The flying saucer has TWO mouths."

"Two mouths?"

"One to eat little flying saucers and one to talk."

"What does a flying saucer talk about?"

"Talks about eating little flying saucers!"

The focus on mouths is interesting, and it seems to be his definition for intelligence/sentience. The other day he spouted a list of inanimate objects around us, and said "they don't move or have mouths or anything." On mentioning this to Greg he reminded me that when I say someone looks like someone else, I'm usually referring to the eyes and upper part of the face, but when Greg does, he's usually referring to mouths and jawlines. Perhaps Theo has inherited Greg's way of identifying faces.

I do think that all this talk of mouths is him grappling with what entities are, what objects are, etc. As most of you know he absolutely loves our car, which we dubbed The Happy Honda. We ascribe all sort of emotions to the Honda and he's always glad to see it. (Which, in Southern California, is a very good thing.) He also has a strong bond to our house and the concept of it. His loyalty to his own world can become fodder for his fears, too. A few months back he went through a fear of something happening to our house. We were getting ready to go somewhere, and he teared up out of nowhere and talked about the house going away while we were gone. This happened two or three times and then vanished, but now we have stories about houses with wings that make sure to come back and tell people where it went.

Along with this fantasy bump, we're seeing a lot more bravery. I think the two go hand in hand. If you can understand what isn't reality, it means you have an understanding of what reality is, what is and isn't possible. He's allowing himself to be pushed further. Coaxing to try things in all sorts of areas, from new foods to daring feats at the pool, is getting better results at the moment.

We read the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Theo over the course of many bedtimes, and while much of it went over his comprehension, he did catch some of it, especially the parts that he's heard in various adaptations. Even some of the wordplay made him giggle. The Disney film frightened him but that was already many months ago, and books are easier for him to cope with. Still, I thought he might not enjoy it but he always asked for more. I tried to continue on with Through the Looking Glass but that was a little too dry. He knows nothing of chess, so it can wait. Now we're beginning the original Wizard of Oz, a story with much more accessible yet impossible imagery, and we'll see how that goes.

Now that he has achieved this level of consciousness about the real and unreal, we can start discovering what sorts of fantasy appeal to him. He still sometimes turns away from cartoons because of threats of violence, however slight. He shied away from a show called Word Girl, an animated show about a superhero with a large vocabulary (gotta love PBS). Even though the villains were cartoony and the dangers slight, his discomfort at seeing people trapped or scared is apparent. He watched only two episodes before deciding he didn't want to watch it anymore.

This sort of self-limitation is helpful, but I know it's important to keep an eye on what entertainment he's consuming. Just tonight he asked for Alice again and I got out Through the Looking Glass. We turn a page and there is Tenniel's Jabberwocky.


"What's that, Mommy?"

Sweet dreams, kiddo.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Storyteller

During dinner the other night, Theo suddenly told this story.

Maybe when people leave a house, the house could dream about flying. It could fly all day, and when it was nighttime, the house could come back down where the empty space was, and when all the people come back the house could talk to them, if the house had a mouth and it could talk to them and tell them about his flying ADVENTURE!

Later, Theo added a bit: While the people were gone on their long walk, the car could also fly away, and come back later and also have a mouth, and tell the people about his flying ADVENTURE!

Theo's imagination has taken a few leaps lately.

Today I helped him illustrate his story. He chose images from basic internet searches and I performed a little photoshop magic at his direction. The result is pretty crazy. These are entirely his own choices. Yes, the Honda has candy in its mouth. Yes, all the people needed to fly too.

I've asked Theo to think about what the ADVENTURES might be. Maybe one day that'll percolate back up. I would never call him the most creative kid, so any chance to indulge is welcome, and the more odd the result, the better.