The bedroom door was already ajar when he knocked on it. “Hey, Jake.”
His son was sitting at the small writing desk he had gotten for his birthday. “Hi, dad.” He didn’t look up from his paper. “How do you spell ‘requisite’?”
Out of habit, he replied, “Look it up.”
Jake sighed and picked up a dictionary that was sitting on the corner of the desk. The boy was seven years old but seemed much older. The effect could be disconcerting, but by itself, it didn’t fully explain why it was hard to keep babysitters. After he had copied the word he needed, he continued writing.
“What’re you working on?”
“It’s a letter to K-San asking them to send me some items. I was explaining something to Julie, and I don’t think she believed me, so I . . .”
“Julie quit.” The babysitter had been close to tears when he had come home and left without explaining what had happened.
He sat down on the floor so he would be at eye level with Jake. “She seemed upset. Maybe because of what you were telling her? We’ve talked about this before, Jake.”
“I was just telling her how light could be manipulated in order to achieve . . .”
“Did you mention K-San?”
“Of course. I needed to explain how . . .”
“That’s probably what upset her.”
“I don’t understand.”
Now it was his turn to sigh. Jake had a vivid, wonderful imagination, but he struggled to separate fantasy from reality. His persistent claim that he was from an alien planet, K-San, unnerved his teachers, his classmates, and his babysitters. For two years now, ever since his mother had left, he refused to give up the idea, never admitting it was just a story. Not wanting to stifle his son’s imagination, he struggled with how to deal with the fantasy Jake was mired in.
“Jake, you know I love your stories about K-San. but other people don’t have any experience with aliens. Most people are nervous about things they aren’t familiar with. When you tell them you’re from another planet, it makes them uncomfortable.”
“So I should lie to people?”
“No, Jake. I don’t want you to lie. But you don’t have to talk about it as much. Think of it like a secret. You’re not lying when you don’t tell people a secret. Okay?”
The boy was quiet as he considered his father’s words. At what point should he seek professional help? Jake’s fantasy didn’t interfere in any meaningful way. His grades were good, and when he didn’t talk about K-San, his social interactions seemed to go well. Was this just a phase or something more serious?
“Okay, dad. I won’t talk about it as much.”
Maybe the fantasy would fade if he didn’t bring it up as often.
“Thank you, Jake.” With the serious conversation over, he tried to lighten the mood. “Should we go for pizza?”
Jake smiled. “Yeah!”
“Okay. I’ll get changed and we can go.”
After his dad left the room, Jake took a small device out of his backpack and put it under his bed. He had planned to bring the three dimensional recording device to school, but he would have to come up with something else for show-and-tell.