06 November 2008

Trains Don't Talk

I knew the day would come. My son skipped home from school last week and announced that he needed to sort our movie collection. He would sort fiction from non-fiction. He then explained in great detail that this would consist of things that are true and things that are not true. He went on to give the example of Thomas the Tank Engine, “Mom, trains don’t talk so Thomas is fiction.” Ouch, that hurt. After spending the past five years in what seemed like a mini Thomas world, I was having trouble giving up the idea that Thomas couldn’t talk. After all, he’d delivered plenty of lessons on sharing, caring, and making good choices. How could I so easily brush this off as fiction?

Explaining what is true and what is not true is a large task and I wondered what kind of Kindergarten teacher takes on such subject matter? I read the newspapers everyday and not a day goes by that I don’t ponder the question of truth. How do we know what is true? Maybe somewhere trains do talk. Even more confounding was explaining that while trains don’t talk, what Thomas says is true. The message and the messenger seem to be at odds in my son’s new knowledge of fiction and non-fiction.

Alas, all this talk did not appease my son. In fact, his world took on just a bit more complexity this beautiful fall day. Now he is straddled with the knowledge of a fictional character who espouses non-fictional messages. “Mom, so which pile do I put the Thomas movies in, fiction or non-fiction?”

A good question…