“If ghosts can walk around, and go through doors, why don’t they fall through the floor?”
Kids ask the darndest things! And I know they plot to wait for the most inopportune moment.
“My 8-year-old at my father’s funeral (open casket) asked me, ‘Why is Grandpa’s face so fat now?’” I couldn’t exactly explain details of decomposition so I gave her ‘the look’. But the Innocence Inquisition doesn’t end.
I’m here to help you, fellow dazed and confused and caught-off-guard parents (with a less than average knowledge of general knowledge). It’s about time someone told you why the sky is blue.
All these questions—real kids have asked them. But the answers…
1. “How does God decide whether to put a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ in Mummy’s stomach?”
Well, nobody really knows the answer to this one. But what we know is that we need both boys and girls in the world so that human beings can keep existing for years and years. ‘Cause you see, when boys and girls grow up and become men and women, many of them fall in love and have children. And when children are born that means there’s more humans (whether it’s a boy or a girl). So God (or the Universe, or Science) somehow keeps a balance of enough little boys and little girls so that they can grow up and make more little boys and little girls. If there were only boys, or only girls, then that couldn’t happen could it?
Dreaded follow-up: “Why couldn’t that happen, daddy?”
2. “What is gay?”
Gay can have two different meanings (as if I didn’t know which one he was asking about). Gay is a word used to describe a very happy feeling, like when you’re feeling lively, or merry. Gay is also the word people use sometimes to describe two men who love each other. Just like mummy and daddy are in love (most of the time), sometimes two men, or two women, are also in love. So gay can be a word used to describe a man who is attracted to, or likes and loves, other men—in a romantic way.
Dreaded follow-up: “But I don’t love men. Why do people at school call me gay?”
3. “Can blind people see in their dreams?”
There are scientists who study this, and what they’ve learned is that people who were born blind, or became blind before the age of five, do have dreams but cannot ‘see’ in their dreams the same way people who are not blind can. So they might hear sounds and see blurry patches of color, but they won’t be able to see things as they are in real life. But if someone becomes blind when they are older, after having been able to see normally, then yes, they can ‘see’ things in their dreams, just like us.
4. “If doctors save lives, what are you a doctor for? You didn’t save Grandpa.”
It’s true that doctors can help save people’s lives, but it’s also true that they can’t ALWAYS save lives. Doctors help people who are suffering, from pain or from an illness, and they do their best to try and make this pain less. But sometimes there is nothing that a doctor can do. People have to die just like people are always getting born; it’s a part of the circle of life. And doctors don’t stop that part of life; they just do their best to try and help people live a good, healthy life for as long as they can.
5. “If there’s such a bad recession in Detroit and Josh (best friend) has to move to Charlotte because his dad doesn’t have enough money, how come the Detroit Pistons get paid so much?”
That’s a tough one! The way things work in our society—and the economy—is quite complicated. But the reason the Pistons get paid a lot of money, even though the rest of the city may be suffering, is that millions of people like to watch basketball. And because millions of people watch basketball, companies spend a lot of money on commercials and other advertising that happens during a basketball game. When millions of people watch those commercials, that means that many people might go out and buy the product the company is selling (like Kellogg’s cereal for example). The company makes a big ‘profit’ from this; which means they make a lot of money, and because they make a lot of money the value of the people who are causing them to make a lot of money (the basketball players), also goes up. The players who make up those basketball teams have to be really good, and one way of getting the best players on a team is by paying a lot of money to get a player who is very talented. It’s a lot more complicated and detailed than I’ve explained, but that’s a start for now!
So I’m no expert, but I’ve found that honesty is the best policy—given you use developmentally appropriate language. If you lie, you’re digging a hole.
Please share questions your kids asked you (comment below). I can’t be the only one who doesn’t know what to say!