A Giant Problem

Apparently I have quite the knack for single-handedly dashing my children's fantasies to bits. I can be such an unthinking moron sometimes, for real.

Let me explain.

Colin loves to read. And he got a new book the other day ... The Secret History of Giants by Professor Ari Berk.

It's a pretty cool book, and it reads like a truly fact-based historical book rather than a mythical story. Which is a problem for a seven-year-old who still believes that such creatures were possible.

That kind of thing is exactly what bugs me about dinosaurs. And knights. Even though such things actually existed, they're implanted into various fantastic stories, so the line between them and other such creatures - like giants and dragons and stuff - is blurred. It just feels weird to say, "Dragons aren't real, but dinosaurs were." And then there are unicorns, which look just like horses with horns and therefore more realistic than some of the prehistoric creatures that actually were real. And then there are dwarves, a.k.a. "little people," not to be confused with the magical, mythical dwarves that, like, lived with Snow White. It's enough to baffle me, let alone a kid.

So anyway, Colin was reading this book and I could tell he believed that it was factual information. So I said, "Colin ... you do know that giants aren't real, right?"

He looked at me blankly.

"They're just made-up. They're part of a group of mythical creatures like gnomes, elves, fairies ..."

Colin looked at me, wide-eyed. "You mean the Tooth Fairy isn't real?"

OMFG. Way to go, Rita. Way. To. Go.

"Well - " I stammered. "Some ... some fairies are, um, real. Hey, look at that!" and then I pointed at some random thing to take the focus off the conversation at hand. It worked, but I have the feeling that the next time he loses a tooth, he's going to be all, "But Mom, you said fairies aren't real!" And then from there, the fabric of his childish beliefs will slowly unravel. Pretty soon he's going to be questioning the validity of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. All because I wouldn't let him mistakenly believe that giants were real.

Mother of the Year right here, y'all.


  1. Aw, that is sad. I've always just believed with them. It's so much nicer in a child's fantasy world than in ours anyway.

  2. don't be too hard on yourself, girl. you're awesome, and he'll survive disbelief in fairies ;)

  3. You are so darling... I "came out" to my oldest when he point blanked me 2 yrs ago and he's kept it secret(tooth/Santa/Easter) and then last year dangit my 7yr old found the present she left for the eater bunny in the laundry room and I had to "come out" to her too..... Now she has been sworn to secrecy on penalty of nothing for anything if she so much as breath's a word to the little man :)

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  5. OMG this is hilarious. Hilarious. That's why you get for ruining my hopes of unicorns. I mean, your sons hopes. Not my hopes. I totally know that unicorns aren't real.

  6. My son received this *fantasticly * imaginative and beautifully written book, along with several others by Ari Berk, when he was 5. He is now 7 and these books are all on his "favorites" list--they are books that he continues to come back to and comb through over and over. He brings them on car trips, he lays on the living room floor with them for hours. My 4 year old daughter LOVes to look at the pictures and make up stories based on them. They inspire great imagination and conversation. In fact, when my son was first investigating the "Giants" book and was curious as to whether or not they were real- I told him the truth: "Actually, yes, there are giants in real life, but they're not monsters, they're real people just like us, who happen to have a condition that makes them grow much bigger, much faster then others." And I took him to an image in a Diane Arbus photography book of a "real life" giant, sitting with his average-sized parents. We then got to talk more about fantasy vs. reality. He was able to layer a human, compassionate understanding of a "real" giant over the imaginary stories of what he wants to believe might also have been real. He knows unicorns and mermaids are not real, but he still believes in magic. Every book we've ever had by Ari Book has helped to fuel this questioning, this wanting to believe, this quest for knowledge and history and this desire to understand that magic might *really* have been possible. These secret histories books have inspired some of the most memorable conversations in our house. After looking at the pictures in this book, my (then 3 yr old) daughter said, "mama, sometimes when I close my eyes, I feel like I'm standing inside the lungs of a giant." I hope you will give this book more time with your son. At this age, generating wonder and curiosity and belief in the impossible is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children. Great things get made by minds that have great belief in the impossible.


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