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.
“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.
“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!”
“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?”
“So….we’re babies again after we die?”
“Uh, I’m not sure…”
“Do we stay the same after we die?”
“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?