Over the last few weeks, our elder boy Eric has experienced existential angst to be proud of.

What he appears to have realized, at the tender age of 2.9, is the basic distinction between pretense and reality. He’s enjoyed acting out emotions (he has been able to spontaneously produce tears to a “show me a crying face!”), it has been all fun. However, toys are serious business, especially when he grasps just how far they are from being real, functional devices. Whether it is a toy LEGO sink (yes, they make one) or a toy train, he has brought himself to tragic moans and wails about the fact that they are not real. He holds the toy object, cries (e.g.) “it’s a real sink, where is the water?”, then immediately mopes “There is no drain, there are no water pipes. No faucet.” Then right back to a tearful “It’s a real sink.” – trying to express that he wishes it were real.

Similarly, during a little drive trip to Lake Erie’s shore town Port Dover, we saw a cruise ship ticket booth. He’d love to take a ride on a boat, but the tourist season has would down, and this ticket booth will be empty until next summer. He knows it’s fall time, and he knows it will be a long time before it’s summer again, but he wished it were not. He sobbed, appearing to understand that it was false that “It is summer!”; that repeating it did not make it true.

It seems like he’s realizing that wishing something were true does not make it so. I say this is a healthy sign for his future outlook, be it on matters sundry, political, economical, or social.