The imaginary subway ride

Almost by instinct, her husband and I started riffing back and forth.

Took the Daughter to the New York State Museum a couple of weekends ago. Actually, it was on a Saturday, since the museum was closed at the time on Sunday, for budgetary reasons, despite the fact that it was the second most popular visiting day. (Happy day: starting September 16, the museum will be open on Sunday, and closed on Monday, the least used day.)

The Daughter and I, in addition to seeing the exhibits, got to ride on the carousel. She rode about four times; I was satisfied with one trek.

We stopped at Discovery Place for kids. The displays noted that the world was hundreds of millions of years old. Given some recent conversation with relatives who believe that the Earth is only 7,000 years old, I was wondering how it would have gone down had we all been visiting this room.

One of the features of the permanent exhibit of the Museum is a subway car, not unlike the one shown here. There was this lovely older couple, who we had seen earlier elsewhere in the museum. She asked if the Daughter had taken dance lessons – she had – because of the way the Daughter moved. He said his wife was a great dance teacher, though she demurred over the description.

Then the woman asked why the train wasn’t moving. Almost by instinct, her husband and I started riffing back and forth: The train’s stopped because the new conductor is late for his shift. He was out drinking last night. But he’s very good at making up time. Though he tends to ride right past scheduled stops. He was late last month too. His supervisor is very understanding.

Though it was her joke that started the dialogue between her husband and me, she becomes quite bemused by it all. How did we know all of this information about the conductor? And how did we start to chat about him, as though we had rehearsed it? Her reaction puzzled me unless she too was acting. Or I thought of a totally different, sadder, scenario, after the fact.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

14 thoughts on “The imaginary subway ride”

  1. Well, it sounds like she didn’t understand the idea of make-believe.

    I wouldn’t worry about it unless she doesn’t make-believe on her own when she plays – she’s the right age to be building complicated stories and plots with her toys. She may not understand yet that people can share a make-believe world together spontaneously.

  2. Okay, I’ll give it a shot:

    1) She thinks you are old enough to remember a conductor from 100 years ago.

    2) She had “the disappearin’ railroad blues.”

    3) She thought it was a real train (“OMG, get her to a doctor!”)

    4) She had the disappearin’ museum blues (a real possibility.)

    No, seriously, whatsit, huh? What’s so sad to think about?

  3. Also – I thought I’d add this:

    It may also be that she doesn’t understand the social dynamics of grown-up make-believe.

    When kids make-believe, arguments break out (“Yeah, but my gun can shoot through your shield…” “No, it can’t, my shield bounces off bullets.” “It’s a ray gun.” “No, but my shield can bounce off rays, too.” “No it can’t – that’s not fair!!!”)

    A very simple explanation (that also suggests she’s incredibly smart if true) is that she was curious about the social dynamics of grown up make-believe.

  4. I read it too quickly. I was imagining a kid with that, not an adult.

    Same things, though. She could be playing. She also might not understand make-believe.

    And there’s piles of things that cause that. Piles.

    It comes to mind because my family is constantly “diagnosing” my nephews with everything under the sun.

    In an adult, though, it could be literally anything. Playfulness, or any of the huge, huge host of things that cause a lack of understanding about an imaginary world vs. the real world.

  5. Alzheimer’s, of course. But also: autism (unlikely unless she had always been that way), schizophrenia (which can have late onset), psychosis (which can be caused by any number of things), etc.

  6. That’s it! The Daughter has alzheimer’s, autism, schizophrenia, and psychosis all at the same time!! And I’ll bet she has piles!!! And so young, too.

    Oooh, so sad…

  7. Right?

    Why can’t we all be psycho white dudes that stalk around black neighborhoods documenting crap that the people actually living there obviously don’t care about?

    My only question is if you go around dressed like Batman when you do it.

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