“Mom, are mermaids real?” Well, no one’s ever really seen proof of a mermaid. “But they COULD be real.” I suppose they could, but so far nobody has found proof, so we can’t say for sure. “Well they’re real, I know they are. Oceans are deep, maybe they just haven’t found any proof yet.” …Okay.
Myla is six, and believes in EVERYTHING. I know this because she told me so. “All that stuff that’s not real–I believe in it.” She doesn’t have any interest in the burden of proof. If she wants to, she just believes. She CHOOSES to. And who am I to tell her she’s right or wrong?
I read a statistic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association that the ocean “covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored.” Can you IMAGINE? 97 percent of the oceans on our earth are UNEXPLORED! In our people-filled world, it seems odd to think of places of the world humans haven’t touched, but with stats like that, it’s absolutely, 100 percent possible.
So Myla believes in everything. We once built a little gnome house, and found tiny muddy footprints from the yard (I may or may not admit to being responsible for those).
My favorite thing to do with Myla is to take walks through the woods. When I was younger and my dad was stationed in Germany, my family always took long walks through the woods. My dad would bring dental floss and build gnome bridges with twigs across little streams. My sister and I would pretend we could see gnome houses in the knots in the trees, and we’d have stick-sword fights. I have lots of wonderful memories from inside the forest.
So on the first day of the new year, I took Myla on a hike. She found a muddy footprint. “It’s proof! A yeti was here!” Hm. I don’t know, there’s a dog paw print next to it… “Nope, it’s a yeti. Maybe he has a dog that’s a friend.” Okay.
(She also believes she can fly…but only for very short moments, when she jumps from one place to another.)
There were broken twigs on the ground. Fairy bones! And broken rocks, which everyone knows that forest creatures eat. We obviously were treading on what once was the site of a huge fairy battle.
We passed some people going off on a hike of their own. “Hi there! We found yeti footprints!” Myla shouted to them. Smiling politely, they scurried awkwardly away. This did not phase my girl in the slightest.
When we got home, I was looking at some of the photos I took on our walk, and printed some of them. Looking closely, I decided to draw in and paint an imaginary monster onto this one of a stream crossing–because even though he didn’t show up in pictures, I’m almost certain he was there.
There was another of her looking at the forest in a clearing, and I was sure this creature was there, too.
I went back and looked at some of the photos we took over break, from the woods near where my grandma used to live.
They were there, too. I just needed to paint them in.
I’ve always been one for proof and logic, which is why it’s so wonderful to see her believe whatever she wants, to see through her imagination. She’s not an infant, I’m sure somewhere she doesn’t REALLY think they exist…but none of that matters to her. It’s more FUN for her to believe. The world is more beautiful and interesting that way. She chooses to believe them, so they are.
We’ve had extensive conversation about gnomes and dwarves, fairies and mermaids, the loch ness monster…and god. My answer to all of these when she asks, is that if you truly believe in them, no one can tell you it’s wrong. No one should make you feel bad for what you believe in, even if it’s completely different than what they believe. And if someone believes differently than you do, that’s okay too. There’s no need to argue about it. There’s no need to pressure them to believe what you believe. Someone believing differently doesn’t threaten your own belief, so there’s no need to disagree. You believe what you believe, and no one can take that away.