The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus…), a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children.
Adebosayo is my sister. Yes, my elder sister. And as I expected, she set the tone and pace for the interview. It was a very on-my-toes interview. I had to have an opinion, I had to ‘make it flow’, I had to think… And that’s why I like her.
Bosayo thinks it’s fun and harmless to tell kids what we Nigerians would call ‘fabu’( which probably got its orijin origin from ‘fable’). It is her STRONG opinion that these stories/fairy tales ‘help children expand their mind and be creative in their thinking.’ I was concerned about this viewpoint because I know that lying to children (who, by the way, are too innocent to judge what they hear from the truth) is one of the don’t-dos in my books. So I asked her why she thinks it’s okay to tell children these fake stories and she said. ‘They are fairy tales. That’s the concept of fairy tales. A child should be able to believe what he cannot see and I think that’s where FAITH starts from. An adult that was told lots of fairy tales can engage his or her mind and think on something he has not yet seen.’
She also noted that fairy tales are used to teach children important life lessons without necessarily exposing them too early to real issues of life. I pushed further but she did not budge. She refused to accept that fairy tales may have adverse effects on children. In face, she suggested that children who are not told fairy tales grow to become adults with no sense of imagination as they did not have their ‘tiny’ brains exercised.
I had heard a lot of the word ‘imagination’ in the interview so I had to ask, ‘of what real importance is a sense of imagination against reality?’ And she was ready for me. She started by telling me that, ‘Imagination is vital’, and then she went ahead to tell me how sound imagination helps for soundness in the workplace and how even architects, artists, writers and ‘more professions’, are potentially destroyed without good imagination.
‘Yes,‘ I agreed, ‘But why can’t we task the children to believe in bigger things that can also spark their imagination; spaceships, the art of dance, art itself, and other intelligent things?’. ‘Of course you can’ she replied, ‘Spaceships came from someone’s imagination. But then that’s like giving a child bricks and cement and telling him to go and play. You’ve gotta start with Lego and then move to sand castles’
Still stunned by the somewhat profoundness of what she told me, I employed my second-to-the-last card on her which was: find the most silly example for the theory and make it central. So I picked the example of the tooth fairy. ‘So what does the story of the tooth fairy teach children?’. Confidently, she replied, ‘Okay. Not every fairytale is meant to teach a lesson or is important for growth or imagination. The tooth fairy story is a succor story and doctors still pull those kinds of stunts. They give placebos to people because the human body/mind sometimes need consolation’
Disappointed at myself and (appointed?) in her, I used my last card: play the victim game – They Colonized Us! So I asked, ‘You’ll tell your kids these stories? Don’t you think they are western importations?’ Giving me a classic mortal kombat ‘Finish Him’, she said, ‘No, we have our own. Ijapa tiroko. Ete tagiri gbemi. Iya Iya takun wale. Ori Ori o and so on. That’s how important these kind of stories are; we also have ours.’ Then, more like she was thinking our loud, she said, ‘I won’t be surprised if it’s part of the reasons why some people can’t be optimistic, can’t believe in Jesus or can’t have faith. They haven’t exercised their inner childish imagination’
Bosayo revealed that she’ll tell her children more of Bible stories, but that she’ll definitely tell them these African and Western fairy tales.
Then she ended the interview with, ‘Hope this interview is finished.’
Wow… thank you Bosayo. 😐