Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Life and death

Felix and Richie spent last week at home, as Felix had developed a nasty case of scarlet fever. It's quite a vicious bug, he hasn't been sick like that for a few years now. (There seem to be some real nasties out this winter: rotavirus, swine flu, impetigo, scarlet fever, lots of pneumonia...)

It was such a pleasure, mostly, to have my two little guys home on an enforced mini-holiday. Felix used the opportunity to ask some of the Big Questions like "Mom, where is Heaven?"

I try to answer more or less what I think might be true, although the truest answer would be, "I don't know." But I spoke about the fact that a body dies but that everything that's not the person's body is what people think goes to Heaven. And some people think Heaven is in the sky, but that Heaven could probably be God and souls all around us.

Touch talk for a four-year-old. But so we broached the concept of a soul, at least.

We found a dead bird in the garden which worried Felix. First it was:
"Mom, I have a brilliant idea. Let's put a scarecrow in the garden, then the dogs won't be able to catch birds."
And later...
"Mom, how do people become alive?"

I always struggle to limit the information. It's also hard to separate out exactly what the child means. So I said that a baby grows from a seed in his mom's tummy until he's ready to be alive outside. Then I thought that was really missing something essential about "being alive". I tried to convey something about the essence of a person, their soul being blown into their body at some stage. Try to put that into language appropriate for a four-year-old. I said, "Some people think God makes the soul and puts it into the body."
Then I quit. I turned the tables in the time-honoured way of a parent who's been painted into a corner.
"How do YOU think people come alive?"
Silence. Mulling.
Felix: "I don't know, but I think it's a job for God."

Felix was showing off his iPad skills to Grandpa John. Grandpa was telling him that when he was young, he didn't even have a TV, never mind an iPad. I also chimed in, we didn't have a TV when I was Felix age either. Felix looks at us.
"Oh. So nobody of you ever got a break?"

Nope. It was just play, play, play all day long back in the dinosaur days. Not even one teeny tiny break. I do love a four-year-old.


  1. The other day I was driving past the place that Tam and I lived before we had the boys. I pointed it out to them and Adam asked if we had lived there when he was a baby, so I told him that no, it was before he was even born. Oh, said he, it was when I was in mommy's tummy. No, I said, before that even. Silence. So where was I? he asked. I pointed out the pretty birds on the side of the road as I had no idea what to say. It's at times like this that I wish I was a believer so that I could spout stuff about god etc. I must prepare myself for these questions as they get older.

  2. Funny! About the breaks... :D
    It is difficult to answer those questions!

  3. That Felix really thinks big thinks.

  4. Sometimes they can really make us feel dumb. If we can't answer their questions that is what they tell us. "You don't know anything".