Photo by wili_hybrid (Flickr)

Photo by wili_hybrid (Flickr)

“Shhh! There’s a monster in there!” says L as we walk toward her room. She’s at that age where she sees monsters, tigers, and bears everywhere. A “smoky, smoky dragon” is a common visitor at night, and right after a bath, an alligator — simply named Alligator — comes looking for her as she hides under her big bath towel. Saturday mornings she likes to jump in our bed (even if it’s made up — she’ll willingly unmake it) and hide under the covers.

“Shhh, shhh, shhh!” she’ll proclaim. “Monster’s coming!”

I play along sometimes, but it creates a problem: she gets genuinely scared sometimes, and it’s because there’s an alligator under her bed or a dragon right over there, in the corner. I reassure here that there’s no such thing is monsters, but it’s difficult to do if I’ve just been playing along with her imagination earlier in the evening.

It’s difficult to balance her developing imagination with her developing fear.

Will she learn there’s no such thing as dragons before she learns Santa doesn’t exist? I’m helping create both illusions, feeling slight pangs of guilt about it, and wondering if it’s all avoidable.

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