real or not? (and the magic of childhood)

The other day, in passing, Crappy Boy mentions something about fairies. I think it was something like "maybe it was a fairy" who hid the toy he was looking for.

He is at an age where he no longer believes in many things that he once did. That "magic innocence of childhood" stuff is fading fast. I search for the magic sometimes, to see how much is left. So when I uncover a remnant of it I start digging to see how deep it goes.  

I ask him if he thinks fairies are real. 

He says no. Slightly disappointed, I ask him why. He explains…

He says they aren't real because of the wings. That they can't possibly fly. I mention butterflies and birds and that they fly. So he explains that fairies weigh too much and that the wings they always show fairies having would never work.

I am now quite sure that when the cells were dividing, most of my genetic material was thrown in the trash. He is almost entirely coded from my scientifically minded, fairy disproving husband. Which I find fascinating.

He is 99% logic and 1% magic. 

So I sit down and decide to ask him if several things are real or not. There has got to be something left that he believes in. There has got to be some magic left. At least 1%.  

As a joke, I start with mermaids. 


Because I already know how he feels about mermaids

So I make things more challenging. I ask him about Totoro. (see My Neighbor Totoro)

At first, he says he isn't sure. I get hopeful for a moment. Totoro was such a huge part of his childhood. Going on hikes, finding hollow "totoro trees" that they might be sleeping in. But ultimately he decides that Totoro is "probably not real". A kitten died somewhere when he said that. 

Anyway. So we continue. 

I ask about monsters. Because I don't really care if he believes in those or not. 


I ask about gnomes.


I ask about a whole bunch of fairytale folk. No, no, no, no, no. 

Then, I ask about elves.

And he says they are real.



I'm shocked. Really? They are?

He shrugs and explains…

Not sure if this is his 99% logic or his 1% magic talking, but hey, elves are still real.

I'll take it.

(PS – they totally are real)  

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84 Responses to real or not? (and the magic of childhood)

  1. I LOVE it! And I LOLd when you said a kitten died somewhere. I love your kids, lol! Mine is def 99% scientific like yours. He gets frustrated when the kids at school talk about Santa and the tooth fairy. I almost feel bad for the kid, lol

  2. Tam says:

    So, no tooth fairy. But the tooth elve will still work!


  3. Misty says:

    Does he still believe in Santa Clause? I was traumatized the day I learned Santa wasn’t real!! (I was 9….I think I held onto the magic a bit too long)

  4. Jane says:

    Totoro is wonderful. Cat bus!

  5. Heather says:

    Your stories always crack me up! And I love the emotion in your crappy drawings. You can tell everything from the eyes/eyebrows. I really hope that when I have kids they are just as funny as yours. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Erica says:

    I love how logical he is! How cool that he knew the wings would never let something as heavy as a person, fly. I am uber impressed.

  7. Kella says:

    My 12 year old still believes at least she says she does, I think deep down she knows he’s not real but has chosen to keep believing and I am more than happy to go along with it ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. right on. i have a couple who still believe in magic. ๐Ÿ™‚ and i totally believe in totoro. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. JaciDoula says:

    You should show him the story of the bumblebee ๐Ÿ™‚ It might bring a little more magic back into childhood for him!

  10. I used to think monsters were real. That was the phase of life when I jumped 12 feet off the end of my bed to avoid getting dragged under by a particularly industrious middle-of-the-night monster.

    Then I thought they weren’t real.

    Then I had 5 little monsters, and I found myself flying 12 feet off the end of my bed in the middle of the night to comfort them, clean up their vomit, and beg them to go back to sleep so I could, too.

    Next time, I’m donning a cape. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for this great post.

  11. Amanda Reed says:

    You should explain to him about bumble bees. Scientifically (aerodynamically even) speaking, bumble bees should NOT be able to fly. Their bodies are too big for their wings, and there is no scientific explanation for how they are able to get off the ground, but they do anyway. (Also, cockroaches CAN fly {they have working wings that should lift their bodies} but they don’t.)

  12. Amber Dusick says:

    Hah, me too. I just want to believe in stuff like that!

  13. Amber Dusick says:

    Oh yes, the bed jump! Our mattress is on the floor. 1/2 because of co-sleeping and 1/2 to avoid providing a location for a monster to inhabit.

  14. Amber Dusick says:

    I will try that! Great thinking!

  15. Mrs Bok says:

    HAHA! Made me laugh! My 7 year old humours me I think, but I’m sure she still isn’t quite sure about some things…I adore Totoro.

  16. Jenny says:

    You should have talked to him about how bee’s can still fly so fairies must be able to also! Cute story!

  17. Cary says:

    do you live in the south? cockroaches sure do fly here, and right at your head too! i’m not sure that would convince anyone to beieve in magic though;)

    children are all so different. my son takes after me and definitely believes in magic still at eight yers old! i will be sad when he loses that, but maybe a part of him never will.

  18. Amber Dusick says:

    True! I will have to try that. I’m in complete denial that his teeth will start falling out in the next couple years.

  19. Amber Dusick says:

    That must be because cockroaches suck.

  20. Amber Dusick says:

    Yes! Science has my fairy believing back! Ha!

  21. Corinna says:

    Or a spider….

  22. Nicky G says:

    We have the “tooth fairy” but our kids know it isn’t real.
    We *borrow* the dress up wings and a big sheet/dress thingamy and a sparkly hand bag and put on a falsetto voice and pop in right after they’ve been put to bed. ‘I hear someone’s lost a tooth was it you??’ and go all around the room, lose the money…. find the money, swap for a tooth…
    Much hilarity – of course we deny all association when accused of being the tooth fairy, ‘but I was doing the dishes, I did hear a bit of a racket, etc, etc’ we say. So far we have had Dad fairy, Mum fairy, Uncle fairy…

  23. New reader here. My sister-in-law turned me to your blog ๐Ÿ™‚ You have brought me so many laughs already! Thanks a ton, and I look forward to reading more!


  24. Genie says:

    oh you make it so much fun! How awesome!

  25. Rhonda E says:

    I’m pretty scientifically minded, yet it seems to me fairies would have an easier time flying than a turkey. Yet wild turkey definitely do fly!

  26. meghatron says:

    Sometimes, when my son wakes up on the middle of the night, he cries out for help from Ponyo instead of from me.
    This post was adorable ๐Ÿ˜€

  27. meghatron says:

    Haha *in
    Stupid phones ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Laura says:

    Ohhh I am lol! Thank you SO much for this- it’s lightened my mood significantly ๐Ÿ˜›

  29. Trish says:

    If he still believes in elves, you should try the “Elf on the Shelf”! It moves every day and you can’t touch it because it “loses its magic and can’t fly back to the North Pole to tell Santa what a good boy you’ve been!” ๐Ÿ˜‰ And you can totally sneak him back out through the year to let the boys know they’re being watched! Ours in also in cahoots with other magic creatures like the Easter Bunny, and can take back gifts if the kids are misbehaving!

  30. Carolyn says:

    When my brother was little (maybe 4?) he asked my mom what was inside of an atom. She answered very honestly that she didn’t know. Apparently he was just testing her, because he went on to explain that atoms are made up of quarks (apparently my dad had already told him all about it, because he’s very science-y like that). My mom felt like she’d just failed a pop quiz (and I’m guessing would relate to feeling like her genetic material had been completely bypassed!)

  31. Amber Dusick says:

    Ponyo! That is adorable.

  32. Amber Dusick says:

    My grandmother had a little shelf elf when I was a kid! I totally believed that thing was real.

  33. Amber Dusick says:

    Oh boy, I can only imagine! And I can absolutely see something similar happening in my near future.

  34. That just made me smile. Love the logic (and magic) of children.

  35. fabialous says:

    well, as far as my kiddos are concerned, there are elves at our house every night picking up all the mess…
    thanks for that story – love the logic of a 5 year old…

  36. So sweet and funny!
    I will be sad when my daughter’s imaginary friends, Mudo and Baby Sudas, are no longer real.

  37. As it should be. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s the spirit of St. Nicholas that is so wonderful about Santa.

  38. sarah says:

    well he might see small people (dwarfs) on movies and at the mall if he goes to see santa.
    i even at the age of 2 never believed in santa claus. I hid under the table because i knew something was up and i watched my parents put candy in the stockings and then i ran and grabbed some and hid back under the table but they caught me lol.

  39. JCCyC says:

    I was about to ask whether the conversation extended to certain other supernatural entities, but I better not. That way is the Way of the Flamewar.

  40. When my oldest was 6 or so, he had a play date over and at the shops they were walking around singing “we don’t believe in fairies” to which I replied “oh the Tooth Fairy will be happy to hear that, 2 less stops to make when collecting teeth”. They promptly changed their tune to “We believe in fairies”.

    I’m amazed at what my kids STILL believe in. The oldest in now 8 1/2, middle is almost 7, and a 5yr old.
    They still believe that when the ice cream truck is playing music it is out of ice cream.
    When the rides at the shops have flashing lights they are broken.
    And that trolls live in little boxes under the traffic lights and control the traffic.

    Yes, that’s right, TROLLS control the traffic lights. Now I told them dwarves lived in the holes and did it, but noooo I get “Mummy don’t be so silly”, yet when Daddy said it was Trolls, that was perfectly believable. Go figure.

  41. Jimmy says:

    Are you sure you want to go down the path of “small people wearing caps” coming into his room when he’s asleep…

  42. shawn says:

    I love it! The kitten crack nearly killed me!

  43. K says:

    My 7 year old announced to me yesterday that Santa isn’t real. He said a boy at school told him. While I was floundering for something to say that would magically fix the situation for my 5 year old, who was listening with a worried expression, my 7 year old calmly announced “it’s ok, Santa isn’t real but lots of fairies bring the gifts. And then Santa comes to eat the snack we leave out for him.”

    Belief crisis averted? I’m not sure what to believe any more!

  44. jenapher says:

    Scientists now know how bumblebees fly. Until recently, they were stumped because, aerodynamically speaking, they are too big and heavy and their wings are too small. Then, using ultra high speed cameras, they realized that bumblebees use their wings to create two tiny tornadoes, and the bee rides them like Dorothy wherever they want to go. Lots of potential for fairies in that observable phenomenon – plus it’s probably a good idea to get him used top the fact that science is constantly learning how wrong they were yesterday lol

    • Allison says:

      Hahaha, you are kidding right? This has been known for years and years. The anecdote that bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly was from the 1930’s- and was quickly seen as nothing more than an urban legend.

      “plus itโ€™s probably a good idea to get him used top the fact that science is constantly learning how wrong they were yesterday”

      First, this statement isn’t even accurate, but let’s entertain it for a minute (you sound like someone who doesn’t understand science). Being wrong is just fine. It’s people who cling to bronze-age traditions and myths that have a problem with being wrong. Science is right far more often than those people, so I’ll stick with science, thanks.

  45. I’m so not ready for my kids to stop believing in fairies or gnomes. I think I’d better stock up on whiskey for when the day comes

  46. Cheryl S. says:

    My Jessica (6.5 y/o) so WANTS to believe. But there are kids in her school that are ruining it!!!!!! She asked me last night if Santa was real or if it was me giving her the presents. I tried my old standby “What do you think?” No dice. So, I said that I believed that santa was real and maybe he doesn’t show up to those kids houses because they don’t believe! Damn, I don’t want her to give up santa so early!

  47. USClawMommy says:

    So funny, I was just thinking about this very subject yesterday regarding my 5 year old daughter, and how “magical thinking” is going to come to an end very soon, and how I wanted to extend it for as long as possible. The kid is just too dang smart.

  48. Nikki says:

    Take the elves and run with them!!! That last bit of “magic” is to special to waste. Have you heard of Elf Magic? Kinda like Elf on the Shelf but these elves are trouble makers and like to hide and show up in fun places! We do this for our kids and my daughter, 6yo, totally believes her elf is real and even makes me set a plate at dinner for him!
    Make sure to check out the photo scrapbook b/c there are pics of types of shenanigans the elves can get into!

  49. Maureen says:

    Spot on awesome as always. Will he be visited by the tooth elve when the time comes?

    I once over heard my son explain to his 7yo friend that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are real, but God is a myth. We are an agnostic house hold, the topic of God had not come up, so he found his own answer. gotta love that logic.

  50. Amber says:

    my son believes in Totoro, meaning that we have a lot of acorns in our house/couch/under the bathroom sink.

  51. Katie says:

    HAHA! Love his logic!

  52. Beth Kelley says:

    My son still believes in most magical creatures (or at least he says he does) but it ticked me off one day he said he saw on Max & Ruby that Ruby told Max the tooth fairy isn’t real. WTH? How can a show aimed at 3-5 year olds go around spouting that certain creatures aren’t real? That’s for the parents to deal with not some stupid TV Show.

  53. DL says:

    I was delighted with this post… and then reread the one about mermaids and was busting up!!!

  54. Alicia C. says:

    Little people with capes, huh? LOL!
    Around here, as soon as elves are unbelievable, you get socks & underwear from Santa. Wonder if that kind of logic had something to do with it…

  55. Mama says:

    My daughter (7 yrs; 2nd grade) lost two teeth recently. Swallowed the first but fairy still came. Two days later, the next tooth. The next day, she asked if me or her dad were the fairy bc she heard the door open and felt someone moving all around under her pillow. She said she almost opened her eyes but didn’t. Whew! Our magical days are numbered and it truly pisses me off.

  56. laurie says:

    My kids know that the tooth fairy and santa aren’t real but have held on with great vigor to the genuine-ness of the May Queen even though they don’t know ANYONE else who is visited by the May Queen and left a basket of post-easter discount goodies.

  57. Elin says:

    That is brilliant with the ice cream truck! Too funny!

  58. Anne Hoctor says:

    9 was too long? I was 13. My sister broke the bad news on Christmas eve. I sobbed to my mum “tell me it isn’t true” (yeah I was a melodramatic kid) but it really broke my heart. I think it’s terrible that kids are younger and younger when they lose the magic

  59. Anne Hoctor says:

    My sister’s 5 year old heard in school there was no such thing as the tooth fairy and that it was really mommyies that did it, so he decided to do a “test” (but wasn’t sceptical enough not to tell my sister what the test would be lol). He said he would ask for something he just KNEW my sister couldn’t have. He would ask for a diamond. You can just imagine the panic in my sister’s head at this point. Luckily before the night was out she remembered dumping a cardi belonging to her daughter with diamonte beads sewn through. She put it into a sea shell and slipped it under his pillow. Magic saved for another little while.

  60. Amanda Reed says:

    No I live in Michigan. I’ve never seen one fly. Only scurry.

  61. Agnes says:

    Hi Amber, just wanted to stop and say I’m really enjoying your blog. I find the pictures are hilarious (and very well drawn by the way). They are such a great tool for depicting dialogue between you and your son. I enjoy how the pictures illustrate the environment in which these funny little parenting situations occur, and the only thing that really changes from picture to picture within a blog post is the dialogue.Even the clothes don’t change from post to post (you wear purple and your son wears blue) and this is helpful because otherwise changing the colour would probably confuse the reader. I also admire how detailed you are with even adjusting your son’s (and your) facial expressions to accompany the dialogue.
    You write short and sweet pieces that are fun and easy to read. I find myself reading three or more posts everytime I visit just because it’s so quick, easy and convenient –especially with the use of pictures.

    I appreciate how you incorporate your thoughts into each post, that way, we as readers know exactly how to approach each situation that we are faced with in subsequent blog posts. I find that you even link to previous blog posts when certain jokes or ideas are not clear to the first-time-reader.
    I’d also like to mention the scannability and readability of your posts. I think the pictures enhance your writing and blog as whole. I mean, I can actually scroll down past dozes of pictures and know exactly what you’re talking about with some reference to the text around them. It’s brilliant!
    I can’t wait to read more and share similar experiences. I am 21 years old and I have worked at the local swimming pool throughout my highschool years and every so often I return to take some more shifts. I have experienced many funny situations like the ones you talk about here. I love the concept of your blog, and I’m actually starting out my own in respect to sharing gratitude for great moms, like you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Feel free to take a look if you want:
    and keep doing what you’re doing with this awesome blog!
    Take care

  62. Stephanie K. says:

    A little while ago, I thought to myself, “If I have to read yet another blueberry picking blog post I’ll swear off blogging forever”. Then I came across your blog, via We Bloom Here, and the blogworld is redeemed. Your posts make me laugh out loud. Little people wearing capes…like, duh, mom!

  63. jillsmo says:

    That was MY kitten your kid killed today!


  64. Natalie says:

    Yep, cockroaches fly here in Hawaii, too. Nothing magic about it, though, just flying nastiness.

  65. Marija says:

    My son got into “I don’t believe” phase at 6.5 years, so when Easter eggs were all collected, he looked at me squinting (trying to “look” suspicious), and said: there is no such thing as Easter Bunny, you hid the eggs, mama. I did not want to lie, but I did not want to support his apparent lack of belief (in anything, not only Easter Bunnies), so I mumbled something and let it be. He was still suspicious, until that same evening, when we were returning from neighbor, we saw real life bunny hopping around in our front yard. Perfect moment for me to cry out: See? There is Easter Bunny, after all!
    Who needs magic more, kids or myself?

    BTW, for all people who think they are doing disservice to their kids by telling them Santa Claus magic – keep doing it, magic needs to be there. My mother always had this notion that I should KNOW that present is from HER, so it sort of made Xmas somewhat selfish experience – “You are getting the present because of *ME*”. Magic is there for a reason, it worked for some 2000 years, it can work a bit more, especially in our material-oriented culture and kids.

    • Heather says:

      Right?! People have their whole lives to be cynical. Can’t they have a little magic, just for a few years while they’re young?

  66. My 6 year old son just read this post with me and would like me to tell you that leprechauns are real, not elves. ๐Ÿ™‚

  67. lancelot says:

    This is really funny stuff. I’m gonna do a write-up of this site soon…

    I miss Totoro… I wish my cousin hurry up and send me my DVD… ^_^

    So that’s what I have to look forward to when my 4yo turns 5 next year? Mind you, if you ask him how old he will be next year, he says 6 so…

  69. stef says:

    my nine year old son still believes in totoro, along with the whole lot of miyazaki’s characters (i have howl tattooed on my left fore arm, it’s a family thing)

  70. Belinda says:

    My children believe everything – fairies, unicorns, you name it – maybe it is something about being a girl? We have very long and involved conversations about these things eg Daughter 2 aged 3 “Mummy what do unicorns eat?” Me “I don’t know darling what do you think they should eat?” Daughter 1 aged 5 interrupts in an exasperated voice “Unicorns eat magic flowers – everyone knows that.” Daughter 2 “What colour are the magic flowers?” Daughter 1 still exasperated by her sister’s total lack of knowledge “Purple of course.” Daughter 2 “Of course!” and so it goes on…

  71. Holy crap, this is a funny blog!!! I love it and am sooo happy I found it!! **yay** Also, how dare you call these pictures crappy?!? They’re awesome as are the nicknames (they are nicknames, right??) you gave the whole family!!

    Thank you Jillsmo for pointing this blog out in facebook, I don’t know when I’d have found it otherwise!!

    Crappy Pictures = Awesome!!


  72. cindy says:

    So awesome. I love the logic about the fairies! Genius child, really. *sigh* kids are so awesome for these conversations.

  73. Savannah says:

    I just randomly came across your blog while doing an image search for the tree magic scene in Totoro. My daughter is really into Totoro, does tree magic regularly and picks up “acorns” all the time (we live in Hawaii, they are really big bean shaped seeds). When I read about your son saying Totoro wasn’t real I teared up a little! Great blog!

  74. Kelly says:

    LOVE it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. Sabrina says:

    Totoro! Hurrah!

  76. Lana says:

    Though it totally pisses me off when people try to tell my toddler about something that doesn’t exist I no longer worry because he will tell them it’s a load of shit all by himself.

    my mum was so traumatized when she was told there was no santa that she told all her children straight out that it was a load of crap and we where happy with that.

    My own boys have never believed in anything of the kind and have not suffered except for utter frustration when people start talking about something they know isn’t true. And then I have to explain that some people enjoy playing pretend.

  77. Heather says:

    Five?! Seriously, the magic goes that quickly? What the hell is the point in waiting to go to the “Magic” Kingdom when she’s old enough to remember, if the magic isn’t there?

  78. I really appreciate your words and pieces of jewelry articles, I will continue reading your words!

  79. Bomby says:

    i use it! it works!!!