Did you have a vivid fantasy life as a child?
I just finished reading Jo Walton’s Hugo-winning novel Among Others, and one of the (many) things that struck me about it was how real make-believe can be for kids. I’m not talking about the fairies in the book — those are meant to be read as real — but about the names Mori and her twin use in their playing. Osgiliath, Glorfindel…of course on one level they know they’re conflating stories with reality, but on another level, those names are true in their heads.
When my sister and I were children playing explorers or servant girls or pirates, we had much the same experience. We knew our snowy backyard wasn’t the Arctic, but it didn’t matter. We knew the playground near our house wasn’t a sailing ship surrounded by sharks, but at the same time, it absolutely was. (Or a robber fort, or a medieval castle, depending on what we needed it to be.) We hadn’t yet learned to fear cognitive dissonance.