Dot writes: Yesterday the boys were watching The Lion King on the computer. It had got to the painful climax – the evil Scar was making the young hero Simba confess that (as he thought – though really it was Scar’s fault) he had caused his father’s death. From the chair where the boys were sitting I heard a loud sob. Hugh was completely absorbed in the scene, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
And, you know what, I was pleased. It showed that Hugh was doing more than enjoying an exciting story; he was identifying deeply with the central character and understanding how sad and awful the situation was for him. I thought it was a sign of increasing maturity (and also, as a footnote, an interesting illustration of the extent to which fictional events produce real emotions, which is a nice little philosophical and psychological problem).
On the other hand, this morning I took Frank for a haircut, and when we went to pick Hugh up from school he refused to believe / pretended not to realise the child with me was his brother. Frank was horribly upset and crying. “But I AM Frank! I just had a haircut!” “Hugh, say sorry to your brother; you’re upsetting him.” “But it doesn’t look like Frank.” And so on, round and round. Perhaps it’s easier to empathize with fictional people than real ones.