My girls (like many of your kids) started school yesterday. Olivia in kindergarten and Audrey in pre-k 3. Like many of you, I am in shock and disbelief that this is happening and that they are old enough to be in a real school learning real things and personing around like real persons.

First day of school!

As my husband and I walked the girls to the front entrance of their new school, we were greeted by smiling teachers, music and a giant wolf. Yes, Sonar, the mascot from the Hartford Wolf Pack was on hand to help welcome the students to a brand new school year.

Image courtesy of Hartford Wolf Pack

Our conversation went a little like this:

Audrey: Why is there a wolf here?
Me: He’s happy! He’s a friendly wolf here to welcome you!
Audrey: You didn’t tell me there would be a wolf.
Me: I didn’t know.
Audrey: I’m not talking to that wolf.
Olivia: {eye roll}

At pickup, Audrey was still obsessed with the wolf. I asked her how her day was. She looked around as we walked to the car and said, “Hey. Where did that wolf go?” I told her he must have gone home. “How did he get there? Can he drive? A wolf can’t drive, can he? Where does he live?”

Olivia, who had had about enough piped in, “He drove a car home to his house where he lives because he is a MAN AND NOT A WOLF. IT WAS A COSTUME.”

Olivia has always been a realist. She doesn’t buy into a lot of the magic that young children do and is a natural skeptic. We tried the Elf on a Shelf and she was immediately like, “Guys. This is a toy. It’s not real. Stop it.”

I remember listening to a conversation between her and her best friend on the way home from preschool last year during which her friend was explaining to her that once he loved his stuffed lion enough, he would become real. She replied, “No, he won’t.” Her friend went on, “My mom read me a book about a velvet rabbit and when the little boy loved him enough, he became real. I asked her if it was true and she said it was.” Olivia snorted. “That’s not possible. It is a TOY.”

I was mortified. I didn’t teach her this. In fact, we’d not yet read The Velveteen Rabbit and I’m sure I would have concurred with her friend’s mom that yes, indeed, it’s possible that your favorite stuff animal might turn real if you love it enough. They were barely four years old. I piped up that if her friend’s mom told him it was true then he was right to believe her. Olivia started to protest and I changed the subject.

She is going to be the kid who spoils Santa for her friends, isn’t she? I don’t want to lie to her if she wants to know the truth about things (the tooth fairy ought to be interesting in a few  months…) but I also don’t want her to tell other children they’re wrong for believing in them. What would you do in my shoes?

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