HARTFORD, CT—Saying she just assumed he would have figured it out by now, local mother Kathleen Rivers expressed concern to reporters Tuesday that her 12-year-old son, Dylan, still believes in his father.
“When he was a little boy, I thought it was really sweet that Dylan believed in his dad, but now that he’s older, it’s beginning to worry me a bit,” said Rivers, adding that she had always assumed this phase would have been over well before he reached adolescence. “He can’t play make-believe forever. Dylan will be a teenager soon, and he needs to start growing up.”
“He’s just getting too old for it, you know?” she continued. “This is kids’ stuff, and he has to learn to let go of it.”
“We were going to tell him the truth last year, but the thought of him finding out that everything he believed was all made-up was just too heartbreaking.”
Admitting she and the rest of her family indulged the belief throughout Dylan’s early childhood, Rivers told reporters how they would play along with him and even encourage his belief by making up extravagant stories about his father that instilled a sense of wonder in her son. However, she noted, they have long since stopped trying to keep up the charade, hoping he would notice the implausibilities of the stories he was told and naturally grow out of his youthful fixation on his dad.
“When Dylan was 5 or 6 years old and would ask me questions about his father, I’d always pretend that I believed in him too,” said Rivers, explaining that she had initially wanted to maintain her son’s innocence on the subject for as long as possible. “That’s just what you do when they’re little. You see the pure joy that it brings them, and of course you don’t want to take that away.”
According to Rivers, the family keeps waiting for Dylan to catch on, but the persistence of his naïveté has forced them to begin thinking about how they might break the news to him as gently as possible. As time goes on, Rivers confided, it’s getting more and more difficult to imagine having such a talk with her son.
“We were going to tell him the truth last year, but the thought of him finding out that everything he believed was all made-up was just too heartbreaking,” said Rivers, recalling how much Dylan’s older sister had cried when she found out at age 9 and how they had encouraged her to keep pretending a while for her brother’s sake. “He still gets so excited when he talks about his dad. There’s really no good way to cushion the blow.”
“At the same time, the longer we wait to tell him, the harder it’s going to be for him to accept the truth,” Rivers continued. “I just hope he doesn’t hear it first from the kids at school and then resent us for it.”