A couple of weeks ago, Ali asked me.. “Mommy – are fireflies real?”

“Of course they are, sweetie!”

..but then I got to thinking about it, and it totally made sense.  We hadn’t been outside late enough this year to see any, and if I were her, which one seems more realistic – a bug with a light-up butt, or a horse with a horn sticking out of the middle of it’s forehead?

If I were her, I’d totally think Unicorns were real and Fireflies weren’t.

So I decided to do an experiment with her: we played “Real or Pretend?”.

And I was surprised by some of her suppositions.  Out of 25 items, she got 7 wrong.

(Yeah.  My kid got a C- in reality.)

Here’s the list of things I came up with to ask her in our game:

Police Men
Kings and Queens
George Washington
Goldilocks and the Three Bears

(This is a great car game, by the way.)

Ali’s incorrect answers were Princesses, Hippopotamus’, Robots, Dragonflies, Hearts, Presidents, and Moses – oddly enough, all of which were things that are real that she thought were pretend.

(Feel free to psychoanalyze the significance of those findings.)

So.  I’m curious about the general grasp of reality, which means that you have an assignment.  Play this game with your kids, and please add more items if you can think of some good ones.  Report back your kid’s age, score, and any new items to add to the list.

Hopefully your kids aren’t failing out of reality like mine is.

But then again, reality’s not always all it’s cracked up to be.

22 thoughts on “On Grasping Reality…or Not.

  1. well, for the heck of it i asked emily ’cause she was right here (and she an ali are only a few weeks apart) – so here’s the verdict. she missed 2 flat out (like ali she thought robots were pretend, BUT she thought unicorns were real!)…i think she missed a 3rd one, because she said dinosaurs are real and pretend. that’s funny…thanks for the conversation starter :)

    1. Awesome! Ali and I had talked about “extinct” previously, but she forgot the word for it. So she said “Dinosaurs are real, but they’re not around anymore.”
      Thanks for playing along!!

  2. oh, i also think having an older sibling can mess with the wonder of youth…emily has hannah running around behind her all the time correcting her and filling her in on her ‘misconceptions’ about things.
    AND when your older sibling is anal and competitive (she’s a lot like her two first born parents) – you don’t get to live in your fantasy world too long during the day!
    the flip side of that is, i dyed a big blue streak in emily’s hair today – so she’s still a little fun wacko kid.

    fun ones to add: stork, tooth fairy, ugly stepmother (to go with the disney hates mom’s theme!), Bear Bryant, Forrest Gump, Junie B. Jones (for the older ones)

    1. Adding the stork seems fraught with, “where DO babies come from?” questions – that is, if Ali had even ever heard of the stork!

      I love the blue streak – Ali would be so jealous!!

  3. Fun game! I played it with Michelle, as you know she’s 4. The ones that she got wrong were: she said that dragonflies and presidents were pretend.

    1. Robots seem to be a very tricky one!! Who knew? Ali totally should have gotten Princesses right, because we talked all about it when William and Kate got married. I guess she was still skeptical about their realness – as am I.

  4. Ahhh, James missed 8! But, in his defense, he is a four year old boy who knows nothing about princesses and kings and queens. He also said Moses was pretend, but he got God right! I think the one that surprised me the most was that he knew California was real (and what it was). He must have been listening while we did our geography games in the morning :)

  5. K got five wrong. She said robots are pretend, which she should have gotten right b/c she has seen the Dr. robot at Daddy’s hospital. She didn’t know what presidents were at all so she said they were pretend (I am falling down on the job!) She said dinosauars were pretend as well as buffaloes, but she said Rapunzel was real. When I challenged her she said, “But I have Rapunzel’s dress!” Haha, fun game!

  6. As a psychologist, I will try to refrain from psychoanalyzing too much. :) What a fun game! Since Ella is only 2, she doesn’t even understand the concepts of this game. I understand why princesses are hard for them. They are real, but also they play pretend princesses.

      1. Ha!! I am more of a behavoralist than a psychoanalyzist. I take that with a grain of salt. I think she did fairly well for her age. I bet if I did this with a range of my kids she would actually perform above the mean on the bell curve (threw in a geek term for you). I think the concepts of reality and pretend are difficult for some children and are partly based on their upbringing and exposure to different things. Shoot–everytime we go to the zoo, hippos are nowhere to be found. So, Ella’s only experience with them is “pretend” (books and tv). So, unless Ali has seen some of these things herself or been told that they are real (God), it is hard to grasp reality completely. There is my two cents at a much cheaper rate!

          1. Kinda. Kids first think everything is real because they have no concept of pretend. Once they are introduced to this concept, they usually become more skeptical of things until they are shown/proven it is real. Clear as mud?

  7. River is 5 and 2 months and he got them all right except for Robots. (I skipped Rapunzel because he hasn’t seen the movie or heard the story and wouldn’t know who that is.) I think he would have scored VERY differently 6 months ago, though. It seems like he’s spent a lot of the last year just trying to figure out reality from from fantasy. And, interestingly, now that he’s got a pretty good grasp of it he engages in pretend/fantasy play ALL the time.

  8. We had fun with this, but we didn’t get very far. Turns out that the 3-year-old isn’t very clear on the difference between real and pretend. This makes identifying which is which somewhat difficult. We did learn that his Baby Brother is pretend….

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