Reality Break

Both the kids have been spending a lot of time playing pretend lately. Everything they sit on immediately turns into a train or a boat or a rocket ship. Once we even had a flying house boat with a seven story hotel on it.

The other night, however, things took a slightly different turn. The two boys were swinging on one of those swings where the swingers sit back to back facing opposite directions. I was mostly watching, but pushing when requested. They love a move called “Under Dog”. This is a simply swing trick where you stand in front of the swing and walk forward, pushing it as high as you can. Then you shout “Under Dog” and step out of the way. The swing goes zooming past you.

After a few minutes, the pretending reared up again. “This is a train,” C announced. “There are forty cars, and this is the engine. I’m the engineer and – “

His little brother shouted an interruption “No!”

“Yes! It’s a train!”

“No! It’s just a swing. I just want to swing!”

“No! It’s a train. For real, it’s a train.”

“No it isn’t. It’s a swing. I just want to swing. Can’t I just swing? I don’t want a train.”

“No! It’s a train!” C yelled.

The argument immediately devolved into shouting and tears, so I stepped in. After the explanation (”he can pretend if he wants to and he doesn’t have to pretend if he doesn’t want to”), they quieted down and swung for a couple minutes.

I did an UnderDog and then C got off and climbed up the slide. “This is a train. It has forty cars, and this is the engine, and I’m the engineer and – “

His little brother hopped off the swing and ran over to join him. “I’m the conductor!”

Sigh. I’ll admit that I was ready for a little reality. I’m kind of sick of trains.

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