I think one of the reasons I enjoy my grandchildren so much, and vice versa, is because they know they won’t always get a serious answer from me. They sometimes call me “silly”, but they do so with a smile. Silly is fun.
Children will assuredly get an answer to any question they ask me (within reason). However, that answer may be weighted more on the side of creativity and fantasy than on reality. They understand that, and delight in it. My instincts tell me that there cannot be too much fantasy during the playtime of young children.
As for my choice of an answer, it’s not at all a conscious decision to alter reality. I simply abhor an uninteresting answer, to anything.
Case in point: My five-year-old granddaughter found two bottles of the popular foaming adhesive, Gorilla Glue, next to our back door. “What are these for Granddaddy?”
Well, the stock answer would have been that I was gluing adapter ends to some polypropylene drainage gratings, and the Gorilla Glue would hold nicely until I could embed the gratings in concrete.
But I sincerely believe that if a writer can build on a play of words, he should. In fact, it’s almost an obligation of adults to pass on an appreciation of the joy of words.
So my answer to her was as follows: “I use Gorilla Glue in case gorillas come into our backyard to scare us. I’ll run out into the yard and glue their feet down.”
That answer was very well received.
“Why is one bottle white and one bottle brown?”
“Well of course the white gorilla glue is for white gorillas, and the brown is for brown gorillas.”
“Let’s go try it!” she yelled almost ecstatically.
Looking out the window I saw no gorillas, or any other animal wild or tame. “Well, I think the gorillas are hiding from us now.” Thinking like an adult, I didn’t want her to be disappointed.
“No, they’re not. We’ll just pretend,” she said with a sly wink that seemed to say, You do remember how to play, don’t you?
And with that, the five-year-old sprinted outside, paused at a spot where the threatening gorilla hoard was standing, and squirted pretend glue on pretend feet. She was fearlessly immobilizing at least six gorillas, and by my reckoning, three were white, and three were brown because she selected just the right bottle for the proper gorilla.
As proof of the effectiveness of her defensive strategy, no gorillas entered our house that day.
Now, to be fair to all gorillas, I do plan to take my granddaughter to the zoo one day and explain to her what an intelligent and peaceful, and threatened species gorillas are.
And then I’ll probably explain the real reason Gorilla Glue is named as it is. Gorillas undoubtedly use it to glue their nests together so gorilla babies won’t fall out of the trees at night.
Makes perfect sense to me.