Friday, November 16, 2007

the basilisk in the wall

One of my five year olds is convinced there is a basilisk in the wall of his house. He can hear it in the morning and at night. His parents never hear it, so he is convinced it only wants to eat HIM. He wants to get rid of it, but how? He knows basilisks are real because of the Harry Potter movie, and thinks this one is snake like--long and thin, so that it can fit in the space between the walls. He thinks it might come out of the pipes in the sink or out of the wall by his bed.

Can we scare it away with light or noise? He tells me if we do that, it might go eat some other little kid. Could the family dog protect him? No, the dog sleeps in his parents' room at night. Besides, it's a small dog and the basilisk might just eat the dog. The dog only bites it's dog food anyway; it would be no help against the basilisk. That's why he wants a bull dog. What about a guardian angel? He's not so sure he believes in guardian angels, in spite of my stories of my experiences with them. Basilisks, yes, because the Harry Potter movie was real.

The only thing he thinks will work is to trap the basilisk, but what to use for bait? We settle on crackers, as that sounds less painful than his first idea of using some of his own skin. I get him some crackers, and he begins making a model of the trap while we discuss what to make it out of. How about a laundrey basket, tied with a rope that goes up to the ceiling then down to his bed? He could untie the rope when he hears the basilisk go after the bait and the basket would fall on it and trap it. He wonders if a laundry basket would be big enough. And what if he is asleep when the basilisk comes? These questions remain unanswered while he makes a trap out of a quart sized yogurt container and string.

What will he do when he catches it? "Take it to some hot lava and throw it in." Nothing else will kill it. This leads to a discussion of where to find some hot lava and how volcanoes erupt. He knows Mt. Rainier was once a live volcano. Could he take the basilisk up to the top and throw it in? After much discussion he decideds that the volcano in Hawaii is the nearest live volcano. We never got around to asking how he would get it there.

At age five, this boy seemed to need to believe the basilisk was real, no matter what evidence surfaced to the contrary. He also needed to defeat it himself: no dog, no parent, no guardian angel. And he needed to defeat it utterly, not just to scare it away. Kindergarten was no help in solviing this most important of problems. None of the Essential Learning Requirements addresses the skills needed here.