[Walking to school.]
Mom, you forgot to put the Vaseline on my lips, and they were really hurting last night.
Did you tell me?
Well, then how was I supposed to know. Do I live inside your head?
[Laughs.] No, but that would be really cool if you did.
[We have a conversation about why that might or might not be cool, having me be able to control him from inside his head. Then...]
Does anyone have someone that lives inside their head?
Well, that's a difficult question to answer, because there are some people who kind of feel like there are people in their heads in one way...in a way where they know those people aren't real. Like, writers can sometimes hear the characters speaking. I can do that sometimes when I'm writing. It helps me know what someone would or should say in a story. I may 'hear' someone talking to me, but I know that they're not real. They're not talking to me the way you're talking to me. And I can make them stop any time I want.
What about other people?
Well, there are other people who sometimes hear voices or think that there are people inside their heads who are telling them what to do, who they can't stop, and they can't do anything about. But most of the rest of the people in the world think that people like that might have something wrong in their brain, something that makes it difficult for them to stop those voices or realize they're not real. People think of that as a kind of mental illness.
But what is that called?
That's called schizophrenia.
And what do they do for that?
There are medications, and doctors will give those people different medications until the people say they can't hear the voices any more.
[No comment; he looks unhappy, agitated, waves his hand at his head.]
I don't want to talk about this anymore.
[Because by this time we'd gotten to the school and were surrounded by a large group of kids, I waited until we got to the top of the stairs to say anything more. Then I turned him around to face me, and got close to him.]
I'm wondering if the reason you look so upset about this is because of your imaginary friends.
[He nods slightly.]
Your imaginary friends are imaginary. You don't think that they're real. That's one of the reasons nobody's worried about your imaginary friends. Another reason nobody's worried about your imaginary friends is because, while sometimes they talk to you a lot, whenever you need to, you can make them stop. And they're not telling you to do bad things. And if they did, you'd still have a choice about whether you do them or not. So that's not what I was talking about. OK?
[Another slight nod.]
I'm door monitor today for my class, Mom. Bye!
[Did he buy what I was selling? I hope so. I can't swear, though.]
[And also? Really, Monday Morning? Really? THIS is what you hit me with, out of nowhere, from a kid with whom normal conversations go no deeper than how many police cars he saw that afternoon? You're mean, Monday Morning. Cruel. I don't like you very much today.]