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When do you quit playing along with your child's fantasy?

Max is moving to Jamaica. He's been telling us this for the last few days; it started right before we headed home. We'd had a wonderful vacation, and none of us were eager to return to 14-degree weather. Except Max decided he wasn't having any of it ever again.

"I'm moving to Jamaica!" he'd regularly say to me and Dave. At first, we indulged him. They Googled homes there and Max landed on this one. "It's very big!" he said, and I agreed. He has excellent taste in real estate.

After that, he started saying "Ewwww!" every time we mentioned our town and state.

"Max, I like where we live," I'd tell him. I was getting cautious about playing along; I know how obsessive Max can get about stuff, and it can switch quickly. As of last month, he was going to move to Las Vegas following that trip. But he'd decided Jamaica was more his thing.

"Ewwwww!" he'd say. "When are we moving?"

His plan was for Dave and Benjamin to come along; he kept wavering on whether Sabrina or I should.

I said it was possible we could return to Jamaica next year for another vacation. But that wouldn't do.
"It's my new home!" he said.

"Max, what about school?" I asked as we sat at the breakfast buffet on Sunday morning, our last day there.

He pointed out there are schools in Jamaica.

"Won't you miss school and your friends?" I asked.

He told me he could visit them. Then he started asking about buying boxes for his move.

"Home Depot," he informed me, helpfully.

He started crying shortly thereafter about leaving Jamaica. In between sniffles, he'd say, "I'm moving!"

Over the years, Dave and I have gone along with Max's whims and fascinations. Sure, we'll go through the car wash two times in a row. Want purple everything in your life? No prob. Spaghetti for breakfast? Sure! Of course, we will refer to you as Purple Car Wash Spaghetti Max! Need to watch Cars 2 repeatedly and basically own all the merchandise? Fine.

When Max grew an interest in becoming a firefighter several years ago, we gladly took him to the local fire stations and began calling him Fireman Max, as he wished. He has long known that he would not be one to drive the fire truck or climb ladders; he has repeatedly told us he will sit in the back of the fire truck and he can help hold the hose, and we haven't had the heart to let him down. Perhaps there will be a way for him to start volunteering locally; we're going to start putting out feelers this year.

But it just seemed wrong to support Max's intention of moving to Jamaica. This belief that he can do such things is part of the way his brain works. But I know he is capable of more mature thinking, and getting his hopes up does him no good. This was no fantasy—Max truly believed he could move.

Max, Dave and Sabrina were sitting across the aisle from me and Ben on the ride home. After the plane took off, Max began crying again. He leaned over Dave and told me, "I'm moving to Jamaica!"

"Mmmm-hmmmm," I said, which is what I always say when I won't give an answer. It drives my family nuts.

"No mmmm-hmmm!" wailed Max.

He eventually calmed down, and was amazingly chill as we were in the car headed home from the airport.

"I'm moving to Jamaica," he informed the Uber driver.

Max has kept it up. Yesterday morning, he pointed out objects that he wanted to move to Jamaica, including our living room TV and assorted family photos (perhaps so he will remember me). He asked Dave to take the shirt he was wearing, one of Max's favorites. He opened the website with his new home on his iPad so he could show it to his teacher. He developed a hand motion to go along with the word "move"—it looks like he's making the motion of a wave.

In the afternoon, everyone headed to the mall as I unpacked, did a bazillion loads of laundry and dealt with a basement flood. Sabrina tried to do damage control, because she was getting tired of hearing Max talk about Jamaica.

"I asked Max if he would miss you and Benjamin," she reported when they came back home.

"What did he say?" I asked.

"He said no, because he could call you," she answered.


"But then I told him that around March it would start getting warmer and that wasn't so far off!" she continued.

"And what did Max say?" I asked.

"He thought about it," she said.

A bit later, Max asked Dave what time they'd be flying to Jamaica when they moved.

Dave and I spoke about it last evening.

"This can't go on, it isn't good for him," I said.

"I know, I was thinking about that," Dave said.

We're hoping that returning to school and getting back into the swing of routines will help. Maybe I'll start planning a new trip to distract him, although knowing Max, he won't be letting go of this for some time. I don't blame Max for not wanting to live in the tundra. But sometimes, facing the cold reality is the way to go.

Image: Jamaica Villas/Canoe Cove 

This post first appeared on Love That Max, please read the originial post: here

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When do you quit playing along with your child's fantasy?


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