"Mommy," says BG from the back seat of my car, "mermaids can hold their breath underwater for a long time, even when they're talking."
"Yup, they sure can." I pause for a second. "I mean, you know mermaids aren't real, right?"
"Oh. Yeah. Mermaids are just in stories, honey, like dragons."
"Oh. Okay. What about bad guys?"
"...You want to know if bad guys are real?"
There's a long silence.
What would be the easy answer here? "Nope, they just exist in fairy tales. Villains are just in stories." "Yup, there's lots of bad guys in the world."
Neither seems right.
"That's a really good question honey. People do bad things sometimes."
"So that makes them bad guys?"
And then I know it, the truth.
"No. It doesn't. It doesn't make them bad guys. It just makes them people who do bad things. And you really can't know which people are going to do bad things just by looking at them, which is why you have to be careful with strangers. But I guess the answer is, no. There are no bad guys in the world. People just do bad things sometimes. Does that make sense?"
"Sure! I get it."
Which is funny because you're four. And I'm pretty sure I didn't get it until just now.