Right after Iyyar was born, Grandma E sent us a Fabulous Box containing, among many other things, the book that became Barak's favorite for at least a year: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. He'd ask me to read it at least five times a day, complete with voices. (I always had the goblins speaking Hungarian.) After every reading, he'd sigh with contentment. "Globlins," he'd inform me. "Very scary."
Lately, he's been asking to sleep with the door to the bedroom closed, and if I open it during the night, at some point when he next wakes up (Barak still wakes up numerous times a night--I think it's just the way his brain is wired--but B"H he usually doesn't wake up anyone else) I'll hear the door being closed from the inside. A few weeks ago I asked him why he does this. "I don't want the goblins to come in." Oh. I explained to him that there were no goblins in the house, because goblins are just pretend. The only place there are goblins, I said, were inside books. Barak did not seem convinced. "Even if there were goblins, I wouldn't let them in the house," I assured him. "They make big messes, right? I like the house to be nice and clean. Do you think I'd let in a goblin to make a big mess?" This seemed a little more satisfying to him, but he still wanted the door closed.
Today, while Iyyar was napping (Barak doesn't have school this week) I let Barak come into my office and watch zoo elephant videos on the computer (YouTube is good for some things). He wanted me to close the door. I said no, I don't want to close the door, because if we close the door I won't be able to hear Iyyar if he wakes up. Barak looked... distressed. "I don't want da goblins to come in." Hmm.
"Barak, goblins aren't real. They're just pretend. There are no goblins in the house, and we need to leave the door open." He was, clearly, not pleased, but came over and sat on the bed anyway and we watched elephants for a little while. Then Iyyar woke up, and I decided it was time to discuss this goblin thing a little more. I found the Hershel book, and we read it. Then we discussed.
"Barak, are goblins real or just pretend?"
"Can you see a real goblin anywhere? Can you see one in the zoo?"
"You can only see real things in the zoo, right? Like, can you see a lion at the zoo?"
"Yeah, 'cause lions are real."
"Right. Can you see a tiger in the zoo?"
"Yeah, 'cause dey're real."
"Can you see a... polar bear?"
"Yeah, 'cause dey're real. Dey're also white."
"Right. Can you see a dragon in the zoo?"
"Nooooo. 'Cause dey're just pretend."
"Right. Can you see a dinosaur?"
"No. 'Cause Hashem took dem away."
I'm not quite sure where he got that from--probably from me, honestly. But it was the way he said it that got me. In our house, things get taken away when they are mistreated or misused. Fight over a toy, and it will get taken away. Whack your brother with a toy, or bang it excessively against the wall, or swing it dangerously over your head, ditto.
I wonder what he thought people had been doing with the dinosaurs.