"Mommy, are mermaids extinct?" my five year curiosity peeks. Suddenly visions of the planned out "Is Santa Real" explanation comes to a screeching halt. I wasn't prepared for other fantasy explanations.
I clear my throat unsurely, praying I say the right thing. " No, honey, they are not extinct. But no one knows for sure if they are real. No one has any proof."
Panic and disappointment reaches her angelic face.
"That doesn't mean there isn't any mermaids," I reassure her. "it just means we haven't found them yet. All that matters is what you think."
Hope returns as she exclaims "I will be the first to find one!".
Some might not approve of allowing my kindergartener to believe in such things. Honestly, I think it's the best thing you can do for a child; teaching them to be open-minded and proud of their beliefs.
In adulthood we are faced with trials of fighting for what we believe in:. our religion, our ethics, and even identity. I can't stress self-confidence enough. It's connected to everything we are. What good does it do when you crush a child's possible reality? They become uncertain, letting others decide for them who they are and what they believe.
I have strong faith in what I believe in. I don't want my children to believe in what I believe unless it's what they want to believe it too. If they decide to follow a specific religion, I hope it's because it's where they feel they belong. Though I am not a follower of a specific belief but my own I study several for the sake of appreciating choices. My children will have those choices and will be proud of their choice.
And if they change their minds, they will be proud of that too. Believing in something is only worth it if you can say that you are not ashamed of what you believed even though you changed your mind. So...I know there will come a time when my five year old will probably not believe in mermaids anymore. That's okay. As long as she is proud to have believed in it for as long as she did.