A few days ago on the way home from school, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” came on the radio. After a few moments of intent listening, she asked how that man singing got ringed by the fire, and wondered how badly he got burned. I tried my best to explain to a seven year old that this song is actually about two people who fell in love with each other but were married to other people at the time and wanted to be together but couldn’t. She listened quietly to my explanation, and then thought about what I said for a moment as she continued to listen to the song. Then she asked, “Did his wife get mad because he liked someone else and she set his ring on fire?” I sighed, and said, “yes, something like that.”
Clearly, symbolism will have to wait awhile.