My now 7-year-old son D- (I really need to update my masthead...) is at that age where he views Logic and Reason as his own all-powerful keys to unlock the secrets of childhood that adults often-unintentionally guard so fiercely.
And yet, at the same time, advanced as he is in the twin arts of Sarcasm and Skepticism, he can't quite resist the pull of childish naivete. He's the kind of kid (much like myself back then) who doesn't "really" believe in Santa, but who feels compelled to make a calculated hedge against the possibility of facing the huge downside of a disappointed, vengeful St. Nick.
Because of this swirling sea of uncertainty, the following exchange between D- and his 4-year-old sister M-, taken from a larger stream of chit-chat about school and life on our way home one afternoon, was obviously quite agonizing for him. (I've abbreviated some of the pauses and excluded descriptions of his pained facial contortions, for your own sanity in reading through it.)
M-: We have a TV in our [preschool] room, too, up REALLY high. That's where Snowflake was sitting one time.
D-: Who's Snowflake?
M-: The elf who was hiding around our classroom... right before it was Christmastime. You can't touch him, though, or he'll lose his magic.
D-: Wellll, that can't be right, because you guys had to touch him to put him up there.
M-: No! He FLEW up there, by himself, at night.
D- (thinking hard about this): Wait... was this in a movie?
M-: No, it was in my class, for real. He's really magic, and he hides all over the room! You can't touch him, or he loses his magic.
D- (thinking again, then making absolutely sure): .....So, was this ON the TV, like a movie or a show?
M-: No! It really happened, to me, in my classroom, at Christmastime. For real.
D- (thinking some more): ...And you said his name was Snowflake?
She had of course discussed this, as you might imagine, in depth at Christmastime, but he was apparently too hopped up on Yuletide hysteria then to pay any attention.
It's also worth noting that during this conversation, she didn't even mention what these "magic powers" are, nor did she allude to the elf's supposed occupation as Spy for Santa. "Magic" speaks for itself, I guess.
I can't help but picture that once he was as sold as he could be on the idea, he was immediately plotting how to capture it and extract its secrets.*
* These days, whether pirates, leprechauns, or odd-looking kittens are in question, "secrets" should be read as "Goooooooooold!"