Wonderful for children to grow up experiencing the many splendored forms of “real” – the concrete, the simbólico, the metaphorical; the real of dreams, of poetry, of myth, of imagination, of literature, of pretend (which, yes, is its own kind of reality)!

Between the ages of five and six, children begin to be ready to explore the many realms of reality. “It’s really a dream!” “It’s real within this myth!” “It’s real within pretending!” “It was real to the Ancient Greeks!” “It’s real within the folktale.” Once a child is closer to nine, reading aloud Farley Mowat’s “Never Cry Wolf” offers a parent and child an excellent opportunity to explore the power of the truths contained in folklore and indigenous mythology.

A very useful foundation for parents in preparing for their child reaching the age of five plus is Joseph Campbell’s series “The Power of Myth.” A book for parents to read as background for their child’s reaching the stage for exploring symbolic reality (beginning between the ages of five and six) is “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Purpose of Fairy Tales” by Bruno Bettelheim. There are layers and layers of truth. Much truth is better conveyed through varieties of reality.

“What kind of ‘real’ do you mean? The real of this table? The ceiling? The real of the front porch? Or do you mean the real of feelings, of love, of hope? Do you mean the real within the myth? Or in this poem that says ‘The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls’? Do you mean the real in the poem that says ‘Whenas in silks my Julia goes; then, then, methinks how sweetly flows the liquefaction of her clothes’?”

Here is one mother’s playful note “from” the Tooth Fairy to her child, which is one of the many ways she and her child enjoy exploring realities by playing. The child is always “in” on the games, never “duped.” “Oh, a loose tooth, almost time to play Tooth Fairy! Maybe we could start ahead with notes and an exchange of trinkets. Want to? Shhh, it’s all so secret and mysterious and full of surprises! You never know…”