During a down moment on the Disney Channel, there was an advertisement for the new Muppet movie. They played Noah's current favorite song, "Mana mana." Then it happened.
"Mommy," Joey asked, "who plays Gonzo?"
"No one," I said. "He's Gonzo."
"No," Joey said, waving away my stupidly naive response. "Which actor plays him?"
It was so near impossible to hold back my, "UGH" of disgust.
"No one plays him," I said. "He's a Muppet."
You see, when Joey was three, he began having horrible nightmares. I think he has an overly active imagination, and he had discovered the concept of good vs. evil, and his mind just would run away with him night after night. However, it led to us constantly explaining the What and Why behind everything.
"That's not real, honey, it's just a robot."
"Oh, don't be afraid, Joey, it's just someone in a costume."
When he was five, we took him to Disney World. He had an unexpected meltdown in front of Pirates of the Caribbean, where the Explaining took on a life of its own. As Joey curled into the fetal position beneath a particularly enthusiastic torch, people were starting to stare. Was it the music? The stucco walls? What? WHAT? What was freaking him out so bad about this ride that he had been excited about, seen pictures of, viewed videos of, and had even written out the entire word "Caribbean" on his "Disney To-Do List"??
"Joey," said his father, my husband. "It's all fake. There's nothing to be afraid of, because it's all robots and music. None of it's real, it's just meant to be fun."
I know why he said it. If he hadn't I probably would have myself. We were desperate. Desperate, I tell you, for the staring to stop, for fetal position to straighten out, and for Joey to say, "Okay, let's rock this," which he ultimately did and was glad for it. (And so were we.)
But from that point on, Joey has pretty much questioned the What and the Why of anything, well, questionable. It has become a rather contentious point for me now, long after the Pirates of Caribbean Incident (as it shall forever be named), boiling in my chest and my stomach with each new question.
My child has lost the magic.
So today, when he turned to me and said again, "But who is playing Gonzo?"
I was absolutely indignant as I said, "It's not an actor. It's a Muppet."
Joey said, "Yes, but they are puppets."
"No," I said pointedly. "MMMMMMMuppets."
"But they're puppets, Mom."
"No. They're Muppets."
And we continued in this ridiculous circle until he finally threw his hands in the air and said, "Whatever you say, Mom."
YEAH. You betcha, kid. I win, and I'm going to lie my pants off to you for a good three years, and make sure you believe in something. I want you to have your moment of truth where you realize how you've been wronged and misguided and deceived. I want you to overlook how wonderful and thoughtful I am and believe Santa brought you your Christmas gifts. I want you to believe that it is absolutely necessary to leave out carrots for the Easter Bunny. You WILL believe that your Uncle Pauly is the real and true Superman (even if he did NOT get up to help Grandma Judy with the grill fire that nearly singed off her eyebrows and all her hair). And you WILL believe that Muppets are NOT puppets.