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Deep Thoughts by Little Miss J

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My daughter is six and a half years old and tends to be a wee bit dramatic at times. She’s also much smarter than I’ll ever be.

The other morning she flew into my bedroom, eyes ablaze, and wailed, “Oh, Mommy! It’s just not fair! I mean, seriously! Seriously!” She threw herself onto my bed. “Like, seriously!” she cried again.

“What? What is it? What happened?” I rushed over and started stroking her long brown hair.

She lifted up her tear-soaked face and sobbed, “It’s this!” she blurted, dramatically handing me the board game cover she was holding.

“Oh! Of course,” I shook my head. “Scrabble. Wretched game. Just terrible.”

“No! I love it! I was winning with the word, QUIET! But it says Ages Seven and Up, Mom! Seven and up! So I can’t play it anymore!” and she continued her writhing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth.

When I was her age, I spent most of my days either eating Scrabble tiles or jamming them up my nose.

So it’s no surprise that my girl is also interested in other typically light, playful subjects such as life, death, afterlife, God and reincarnation. And she usually interrogates me with rapid-fire questions right as I’m tucking her into bed at night.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I were half as smart as she is or knew any of the answers.

“…and so Big Bird and Elmo played baseball and they all lived happily ever after…” I read aloud to her then closed the book.

“Man, I love Big Bird…” I sighed and stared off into the distance.

big bird

“Mom?”

“Is this a question about why Elmo has no ears?…. Please?”

“Oh, Mom! Elmo’s not real,” she wrinkles her nose. “He’s imaginary. This book was fiction. That means it’s made up. Mrs. Bouthot [her kindergarten teacher] said so.”

“Well, she would know,” I frown. “Pffft.”

“She does know. She knows everything!” her eyes widened. “Mom? What happens after you die?”

“Um, you go to heaven. OK, good night!” I kiss the top of her head.

“How?”

“You just go.”

“What do you take with you?”

“Um, your soul. Okay! Good night!”

“And where do you go? Is God there?”

“Yes. And it’s very nice and beautiful and wonderful,” I pull the covers up to her chin. “Sweet dreams! Think of Big Bird! I know I will!”

big bird

“What’s God like?”

“Umm….he’s a pretty cool dude. He loves us no matter what.”

“Even when I don’t brush my teeth?”

“Even then.”

“So….we’re babies again after we die?”

“Uh, I’m not sure…”

“Do we stay the same after we die?”

“Uh…”

“How old are we?”

“Well….I don’t know exactly…”

“Where do we all live? Are there houses? Do we eat food? Is there candy there? Can we come back? I’d like to come back as a baby again. That’s what we do, right? We get to pick new families and keep coming back down here?”

“Sure, I guess….maybe, but I’m not sure…”

“I want to come back as a princess ballerina veterinarian!”

“I want to come back as Mrs. Bouthot. Or Big Bird.”

****************************************************************

Parents: How do you handle heavy questions from your kids? Do your kids know more than you do, too?
Others: What happens after you die? What’s the meaning of life? Why does Elmo have no ears?

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85 comments

  1. Heavy questions are always tough, but at bedtime when mommy brains are at their weakest, you have no chance in hell in beating the likes of that know-it-all Mrs. Bouthot. It’s a good thing you are going back to school, you’re going to need all the help you can get with Miss J..she’s a genius!

    1. She is a genius. Seriously, I could never hope to be as advanced as she is at the age of six. Her insight and maturity impress me every day. Then she’ll do something like, take a big bite out of my blood pressure cuff then stick the stethoscope up her nose, and I’ll think, well, some things do balance out….

  2. Elmo has no ears because he’s a MONSTER. Duh.

    My son was hammering me with questions about babies and the birth process while we were taking a walk around the neighborhood (i.e. nowhere for me to escape). So, I pretty much just nodded along as he posited about how much it must hurt when your tummy is sliced open and the baby is pulled out. (“How do they cut it out?” “Is it a big knife?” “Isn’t there a lot of blood?” “Where does all the blood GO?” “Doesn’t that hurt A LOT?”). I tried to explain the concept of painkillers, without actually using the words “drugs” or “painkillers,” and that it is all done in a hospital with doctors and nurses, so it’s totally safe. And then I tried to distract him . . . “hey, look at all those birds! Do you think they are flying south yet?”

    Eight years old is too young to describe the process of vaginal birth v. C-sections, right? Oy.

    1. Yes! Because he’s a monster! But how do they hear then, Misty? Hmm?? I’ll have to do some more scientific research on this later on underneath my daughter’s bed or in my son’s closet…

      My son has done the “where do babies come from?” conversation soooo many times now. I told my husband to field that question but he was also just as stumped.

  3. My almost nine year old son asks those sorts of questions and has since he was three. “How did your father die? Explain heart failure. ” As with your little one, his deep questions now usually come at bedtime. He’s one intense, dramatic child, unlike any of my adult six kids who are all extremely intelligent, but when they were kids, they were kids. Thirty years into the Mommy job, and no dummy myself, I have grown used to my role as the family simpleton.

    1. The older I get, the less I know. Such a humbling thing. But I do give my kids options, get them to think on their own, use their own brain (and not mine because, let’s face it, I’m pretty much swiss cheese up in the ol’ noggin now)

      My daughter also asks me all the time about my late dad. It’ll be out of the blue, “Hey Mom? Do you miss your dad? When did he die? How did he die?” I just answer her as truthfully as I can, you can’t lose, really. (without scaring her, of course)

  4. Hey, first: YOU MOMMIES will NEVER be the family simpleton – that roles falls to the fathers ;P Sorry, but you can only be second to them :P

    And to the question:
    What happens after you die? What’s the meaning of life? Why does Elmo have no ears?
    What happens after you die?
    Well, nobody came back to tell – Jesus came back, if you have christian kids – but he did not really tell about afterlife, did he?
    When you are dead, your body, which is not needed anymore, will indeed be the source for new life – what happens to your soul? A question intensively debated between all those religions out there. There are those who say you come back to make up for your mistakes first time around – and make new ones ..
    There are those, who say you go to a certain place not on Earth, and some of those say YOU will go to hell cos you do not believe as they do. Strange, some of those who want to see you in hell, say this to each other.

    Really, first find out, what happens in this life, then bother about another. One step after the other.

    1. “some of those who want to see you in hell, say this to each other.” Ain’t that the truth.

      My kids are really good at coming up with their own answers. I love to listen in to their deep conversations on religion, and reincarnation. We don’t go to church or specifically talk about God unless they ask me what I think.

      Last week they were discussing whether Jesus is the son of God, or is actually God himself, and whether or not they wear all white clothes and eat all the candy they want. But my son stumped me with the question, “Can I die, then float into a cloud, then fall to earth and die again?”

    1. She really scares me sometimes with how mature she acts. And she’s always asking me these intense deep questions. But I’m afraid I won’t really know for sure until I die why Elmo has no ears.

  5. My son is 9 going on 10- I tell him to google it. lol! Before now, I answered as honestly as I could or tell him I’d answer him at another time as it’s late or I’m busy etc. To give myself time to think or research.

  6. Love it! Questions about heaven… I always told my girls I didn’t know, but to ask Jesus when they got there and He would let them know. I know a cop out, but it got an answer for them. Fortunately they never noticed that Elmo had no ears.

  7. Apparently when I was 4 I woke my mom up in the middle of the night because I’d just been thinking that if the cat died, then that means everyone dies. That means they’ll die and it means I’ll die.

    That may have been the moment she realized I was going to be an unusual child. A, perhaps, dark child.

    1. That is some deep thinking for a four year old. Must have been one helluva long night for your mom.

      I think I started wondering about religion and life and death and stuff around 7 or 8 when my mom forced me to go to church and I really, really didn’t want to go. Soon after our hamster Hercules died and boom, the floodgates opened.

  8. Elmo has no ears because of a congenital malformation; it affected his hormone level too, which is why his voice will never change and he will never be able to father the next generation of muppets.

    And if there is no candy in heaven, I’m not going.

  9. So, Darla, if our two girls every got together and had a conversation, I think yours and my brain would explode! Ha, ha….Maycee is so astute, and over-the-top smart for her age at 9 1/2. I get these right-as-the-covers are going up over the nose questions, also. I usually look at her with a blank stare, listen to the list of curiosities, and then say, “Those are really good questions….now it’s late. See you in the morning!” Talk about a dash and run, LOL! Maycee went on a field trip to an outdoor camp on Wednesday. She learned all about how the natives made their houses, cookware, utensils, tools, etc. She was telling me about all of this in great detail, and then she said, “They lived in poms.” I said, “What?” “POMS! You know, mom, the huts they built were called “poms”. “Oh, yeah…” I replied. WTH?! Poms? Well, we learn something new every day (from our kids). Great post! XOXO-Kasey

  10. One afternoon we were swimming in my in-law’s pool (I married up) and my then 4-year old daughter said, “Daddy, I loved YOU!” and she poked me right in the penis. She said, “Daddy…what’s that?” It was my moment to shine as a parent. To say, calmly and without panic or ambiguity, “That’s daddy’s penis. All men have one.” Not a big deal. Instead, I said, “Hamana hamana hamana…NOTHING” and quickly swam away. What a hero I was. Am.

  11. I absolutely love Little Miss J!! And I love her questions! I used to have some of the same questions about what happens after we die. Truth be told, I got great answers from Sylvia Browne’ s books. I get such a kick out of Miss J being a Scrabble wizard, because both my husband and son have dyslexia and can’t spell very well. Thanks for yet another great read.

  12. I must inform you that “Deep Thoughts” is a registered trademark of The Modern Philosopher. I’ll allow you to use it, though, because I like you. :)

  13. Precious! Unfortunately you can no longer make up answers because she will tell the teacher and the teacher will send Social Services over to your house to investigate you! So, you have to try to answer. Best is to tell her that those are great questions and that you are going to write them down and research them so that you can get back to her with great answers! Then google & wikipedia to death once she’s asleep! Or ask Big Bird. :)

  14. Your gal is such a cutie! I can’t remember any of the deep questions right now, but my son always used to ask really random questions. Two of my favourites that I remember are:
    - Do people ever play the harmonica when they’re scared?
    and
    - Do mice know their own name like hamsters do?
    (actually I don’t think it was mice, I can’t remember the other animal, but it was definitely hamsters that knew).

  15. People who don’t have children often have a smugness about them. Perhaps it’s because they’ve never had to face the reality that a 7 year old who be smarter and deeper than they could ever imagine.

    1. Noooo! I am not looking forward to that one. As it is I’m having a hard time dealing with a son who’s starting to ask us about girls and armpit hair. (his armpit hair, not a girls’ armpit hair)

  16. Oh, you brought back a fabulous memory. We were spending a weekend with friends, and our daughters, aged 3 and 4, kept calling us after we put them to bed. First it was asking for water, but then they became increasingly creative. They asked us for another hug, a warmer blanket, then a series of questions about life and death. Finally it was the last straw when they called us into the room to ask, “Does God have a penis?”
    They are both elementary school teachers now…..

      1. As I recall, my friend stated firmly, “That is one of the great mysteries of the universe. GOOD NIGHT.”
        Then the adults laughed for an hour!

  17. My answer? Miss J will be a Scrabble champion and the game was wrong. Heaven is what you want it to be, it is a special place like that. And finally, I don’t know I haven’t been there yet.

    Mom’s cannot be their best at bedtime, you did very well though.

  18. Say it isn’t so … Elmo is not real? The things they teach kids in school now-a-days.

    To answer your questions, I tried evasive tactics when my kids were young. They’d ask: “What your favorite color?” My answer: “Plaid.” Soon, they gave up on me as a Hopeless Case and never asked any more questions I couldn’t answer. I hope this helps, Darla.

  19. I think that when small children ask questions like that, its because they think about things that we have already buried deep in our minds. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are exceptionally clever, it just means that they’re more clever than we give them credit for, and lets face it, they are.

    1. So true. When I was a kid, I seemed so much more confident in general, even when I didn’t know any concrete answers. Now I’d like to embrace the unknown and try not stay up all night thinking about it.

  20. The only one of those questions I think I have an answer to is about Elmo not having any ears. I believe it’s an evolutionary process due to be surrounded by screaming children all day…

  21. Seems like the Elmo issue is covered.

    As for death and other heavy questions. I forget what I told my son. Maybe that’s what you could say: “Gee, I used to know, but I forgot. Let me get back to you on that one.” They call up her Kindergarten teacher and have a pow-wow. It’s always good to get your stories straight.

  22. Hey. I just stumbled upon this blog entry somehow and loved it. You raised some quite essential questions there and being asked those by a kid can give you hard times when you’re not quite sure about the answer yourself. All these religions provide you with individual answers which obviously can’t all be true since they are in contradiction with each other. In case you’d like to know what the bible says, just go there: http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/when-you-die/ and there: http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/meaning-of-life/

  23. How cute is Little Miss J?? I did the same sort of stuff when I was a kid, I’d read the age ranges for certain games and think, “Dammit, I’m not old enough.” I might not have said “Dammit” in my younger years, but it was implied. I had a lot of concerns about what happened to us when we died too, but my main concern was, “What happens to our eyes? Do we have eyes after we die?” The idea of us wandering around upstairs without eyes really freaked me out for some reason.

    And Elmo doesn’t have ears so he doesn’t have to hear his annoying voice.

  24. I loved this: “When I was her age, I spent most of my days either eating Scrabble tiles or jamming them up my nose.”

    And I think Elmo’s ears must be on the inside. That’s all I have.

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