Friday, January 8, 2010

Genesis and Revelation

Dante, my highly inquisitive little 3 1/2 year old, and I were sitting down to our nightly ritual of watching Alex "Trevek" and Jeopardy the other night when he nonchalantly turned to me and said,

"Mommy, where do we go when we die?"

Dun, dun dun!!!!!!!! (insert scary music here). Uh-oh. I knew these questions were eventually going to turn up one day, but I certainly wasn't expecting them now....at 3 years old...just about to watch Jeopardy....when our last conversation involved describing how his recent poop looked like Soundwave from the Transformers. But, blame me and his dad for having a smart kid, so I should have seen this coming.

I immediately racked my brain with the normal frustrations and questions: How do I answer this honestly, but still not scare the hell out of my kid and scar him for life? I can't just up and say, "Dante, when you die, you get put in the ground and then worms and maggots eat through your eyeballs until you're a skeleton.", or better yet, "Dante, when you die, you get shoved in a box and put on a conveyor belt and baked at 700 degrees until you fit into a jar on someone's mantlepiece". I thought it best not to be that blunt or honest about it. That's all I need, an insomniac toddler with fears of death. Let him wait to be 35 years old to get like that. Trust me, it's no picnic.

Anyhow, I repeated his question to buy some time, and he said to me in an exasperated voice, "Come on Mom, just tell me already!" and I knew I had no choice to answer. My attempts to distract him with "Look D! The Jeopardy category is The Smithsonian!" weren't working so I swallowed hard and answered like this:

"Dante when we die we don't go anywhere. We just die. Our life is over. Our bodies are put in the ground and we become dirt to feed the grass, help flowers grow, or feed the trees. Sometimes, the dirt you turn into becomes a flower or gets blown away and becomes part of the air."

(notice I skipped the whole cremation option even though we all are opting for that when we perish from this mortal coil. But the whole "baked in an oven" idea, I'm not sure he is ready for.)

After hearing all of this, D looked at me for a moment and I became worried that I had been too honest, but really, I wasn't going to tell him that we go to "magic fairy land", sprout wings, and chill out with all of our dead relatives. So I asked him, "Is that ok with you?" and he said, "Yea, I want to be a big Orange tree when I am dead."

Whew! Crisis averted, at least on my end. I have to be honest but I am dreading these upcoming questions, not so much for him, but for myself because I know I have to answer them unbiasedly and honestly. I can't up and say, "Dante, there is no god and believing in one is just a crutch to not take personal responsibility in your own life". That certainly would not be kosher. Unfortunately there aren't many resources out there for having the "religion talk" with your child that doesn't involve handing your kid a bible and indoctrinating him on the spot. So, I'm kind of going to have to wing it and remember what my mom and dad said to my brother and me. They were "fair and balanced" (ewwww I just quoted FAUX News!) and we still turned out ok.

I consider this a good jumping off point. This wasn't so hard. I'm patting myself on the back, I admit it. I only hope he doesn't ask me how the stock market works, because then I'm toast.

31 comments:

Carla said...

job well done. I love how intently they listen to these conversations. My 3.5 old picked up Dawkins new book about evolution, looked at the colored pic inserts and asked lots of questions yesterday. He learned so much! 3 year old are information sponges!

Sherrie said...

Well done.

inkelywinkely said...

I think you did fine..better than I did. LOL

"I LIKE to think that he is having a cup of coffee and cussing at little kids somewhere else" when asked about my Paw Paw didn't go over that great.. haha...

inkelywinkely said...

Oh, yeah.. my parents, atleast Dad, were fair and balanced as well.. I remember him not going to church and saying he didn't know what he believed and that God may be something that we just made up to make living easier for some people that need it..he didn't know..I also remember him going to church when the one I went to had this one particular pastor who said he would rather prostitutes and junkies in his church than someone "holier than thou"... Dad though that he was really cool and worth listening to..I remember him standing and clapping when people would sing, and he drove the youth places, but I don't ever remember him speaking about religion even at that point...or doing the whole "christian for show" thing at church...He always told me it was up to me to figure out, he could only help me figure it out when things got too hard for me to do alone, and that he could never give me answers..much better than my mom who told me that the devil would stab my toes with a pitchfork and drag me to hell if I was bad during the day, or forgot to ask for forgiveness for something...that still scares me. And people wonder why I get along better with atheists than Christians. hahah

Eleanor said...

excellent response! and the lad's comment is indicative of clear understanding - smart child indeed.

Anonymous said...

You handled it well. And I am a Christian. Obviously I wouldn't have said the same thing as you...but you told him honestly (without giving him more details than he can handle at his age) what happens. Can't go wrong with honest.

My only comment is: Just because someone believes in God doesnt mean they take no responsibility for their own lives/decisions/etc. Oh how I wish you were still on CafeMom...I'd love to have more discussions with you on this subject. (Not to convert...but to prove to you that you really can't lump everyone together.) (BTW: ProudSingleMum on CafeMom). Oh and congrats on the babe to be...any names picked out???

KenL said...

Makes me think there is a need for children's books explaining these tough topics in a truthful, yet not scary way.

While it sounds like D took the explanation well and it satisfied his sense of reason, I'm sure there are many parents that might need help at it.

Ken W will be speaking at Darwin Day with his project on composting and earthworms, It could help for kids to learn the actual process and help them tie it in with your explanation.

Anonymous said...

It's okay that your son is a little behind in asking these questions :)

My son, and most of the other kiddos his age I know (nieces and nephews or friend's children), were asking questions regarding death and dying between the ages of 18 months and 2 years.

They all develop at their own pace though, no point in comparing ;)

I'm sorry you weren't able to give him a meaningful answer to his question, but he sounds like a very sweet, very simple little boy. I'm sure he'll accept your response without question for the time being!

Regards!

Alessia said...

At least I'm not brainwashing with lies, "Anonymous". Thank you for proving to me and the rest of the world what closed-minded, small thinking, bigots most religious fanatics are. Your comments just show your ignorance and petty childishness. I only hope that your children rise above your idiocy and become productive members of society instead of mouth-breathing republicans.

Regards!

Your cowardice at posting anonymously as well, shows your lack of conviction and character as well. Which is also to be expected from such an inferior creature.

rrpilot said...

Wow Anonymous...seems you cannot take any challenge to your point of view so it's condescending remarks and insulting a 3 year old, what a noble victory!

Anonymous said...

Wow.

You sure do make an awful lot of assumptions.

I've re-read my comment for clarity, and positively confirmed that I did not mention my religious nor political affiliation.

I posted anonymously because quite frankly, I don't have a blog. I choose to spend my time more "productively" and thus don't waste time here in cyberspace with daily ramblings that only interest a handful of people.

As far as your son, I wasn't being facetious. The 3.5 year olds that I know well had long since explored their curiosity regarding death. They were reading and writing and had also used their own analytical thought to confirm that there was no logic behind Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy either.

I get the whole blog thing, really I do.

You've found yourself bored with the mediocrity of your life as a wife and mother. As a way to "separate" yourself from the crowd you start a blog to show off how astute, distinctive and witty you are as well as showcasing the "implied" genius of your child.

However, I'm very familiar with actual, credible intellect, and I'm sorry to say that this blog isn't it.

This blog and the thoughts contained within are a dime a dozen.

This blog is at the very bottom of the pseudo intellect, wannabe deep thinker, generic sui generis barrel.

Alessia said...

You don't "waste your time in cyberspace" yet you keep coming back to my blog. Aw, and how cute, with your little Latin phrases and "look at me I can hold a Roget's Thesaurus in my hand while I type".

You are providing some excellent entertainment.

Santa "Clause". Ah yes, a veritable genius of intellect we're dealing with here.

I think you're doing a fine job of representing exactly what you are: an idiot with nothing better to do that pretend to be intelligent. You should be so proud of yourself, using the anonymity of the internet to "tell me off". I am crushed. I think I'll go cry now.

Yawn.

Alessia said...

Oh, and "Anonymous", there is an option when you leave a comment to enter your name and URL without the need of a Google or OpenID account. It's simply your name and/or your email or web address. So claiming you are posting anonymously because you don't have said accounts is a load of crap, pretty much like the rest of you.

Have a great day!

rrpilot said...

I'm no expert in Latin, but aren't 'Generic' and 'Sui Generis' mutually exclusive terms?...For tonight I think I'll stick with Cogito sumere potum alterum...

inkelywinkely said...

Wow...I can't believe that someone could call another woman's child "simple" and "behind", and not see why said mother would be offended...

Alessia is explaining to her child what she believes to be the truth..and, honestly, it is..even us Christians believe it. See, even in the Bible, there is talk of leaving behind your Earthly body....so even if you were of that persuasion, giving a child D's age that explanation she did is COMPLETELY fitting.

How horrible of you to come here and act all (pretend)balls to the wall with you fake pity and your immature passive aggressive bullying and hide behind "Anonymous"... you really must be just as empty inside your mind as you obviously are inside your soul.

Shame on you. May God bless your poor, cold heart..and your child, as he/she/they will need much encouraging that you obviously can't give with your limited capabilities.

As for you, Alessia, go on with your bad self, as they say. :) I wished I had your email last night while Punk was jamming out to Mouth to War, then turned around and hummed along with Into the Mystic..:) I was one proud momma...I knew you;d appreciate it..especially since we had just finished watching Kruger and it was around 9:50 a school night.

heheheh...

nevermay said...

i can't imagine jd asking me that at his age or even when he turns 3. thanks for the pointer! and I love that D replied that he wanted to be an orange tree. so cute!

Alessia said...

Bella: Ah yes, I would certainly have been proud! Today D was drumming along to "Blitzkrieg Bop". I almost felt the presence of Joey Ramone in the room!

Anna said...

Anonymous-

What kind of person insults the intelligence of a toddler? What kind of person has exposed their children to death and dying to the point that they are asking questions about death at 18 months?

My 3 year old spends at least 1 hour a week in a FUNERAL HOME owned by his grandmother and he doesn't ask about death yet. Obviously it hasn't peaked his interest more than dinosaurs, trains, or any of the other small fascinations that come and go. How dare you insinuate that a child is "simple," because he hasn't asked a question yet! He can ask his questions in whatever order he damn well pleases! Absolutely heinous.

MaryAnn said...

Questioning or not questioning death has nothing to do with the intellect of a child or anyone else for that matter.

If a child, regardless of age, has experienced the lose of a loved one, then yes, they are going to ask questions. Or if a child attends a church that continually talks about the death of Christ, then they will ask questions. But if a child has been blessed to not lose someone they are close to, or had death presented to them on a routine basis, then why would it occur to them to ask questions about something they have never heard of?

Anonymous, do the 3.5yos that you know ask about the physical differences in the various species of elephants, whales, fish, etc.? Do they ask about extinction, photosynthesis, and planetary alignment? Mine does. However he has never asked me about death because in his lifetime he has not lost a relative or pet to death. Does that make him less intelligent? Hardly.

And as for blogging, is it more of a waste of time to blog your thoughts and share them with your friends and family (who frankly enjoy reading the blog and look forward to reading more) , or to read and continually comment on the blog of someone you don’t know? What productive things did you do while you were waiting for a response to your baited comment?

inkelywinkely said...

Proud mommy, indeed, Alessia... I will never forget the day when Punk announced to his daddy's company that Metallica has sucked since they cut their hair, and that the black album is something they will never live up to again...hahah..our kids not smart? HA! :)

Anonymous said...

Weird.

My last comment disappeared.

Oh well.

I'll re-post:

rrpilot - the definition of "Sui Generis" is unique, one of a kind while "Generic" means characteristic of or relating to a group of things. By putting the two together, I was attempting to illustrate that while attaining to be sui generis, what she is putting forth in reality is cliched and generic.

I believe I then went on to request that Alessia not get her panties in so much of a bunch after which I amended my original comment to reflect more of what she was looking to attain with her blog post.

The aforementioned revision went something like this:

OMFG!! ur kid is soooooooo smart!!!!! what would u expect with such sooper smart parents'tho...LOL!!!

luv ur BLOG!!!

Cheers,

anonymous

Alessia said...

Wow, for someone who doesn't spend that much time on "teh interwebs", it sure likes to hang out here. Maybe Wal-Mart's closed and all the cows have been tipped where it lives.

Susan said...

OMG. Really? Can you not block that person? It's such a bore. I do enjoy reading your blogs. Maybe I am one in a handfull but I seriously can't understand why such a hater would continue to read and comment. Talk about simple. I'm tired and for some reason I now have a headache.

Autodidact said...

Anonymous said...

It's okay that your son is a little behind in asking these questions :)

I say:
It's NOT ok that you're being a colossal ASS in making your snide and cowardly remarks casting aspersions on the intelligence of the author's three year old kid.

Low, juvenile, and utterly reprehensible. And ironic, really, as I have no doubt he's smarter than you.

But who's comparing, right?

asshat.

Autodidact said...

Perhaps the prospect of being forced to continue to suffer the dubious charm of Anonymous' grating presence invokes in even the smallest of children a keen interest in the topic of death as a pleasant alternative.

Jose said...

I don't know what kind of person would attack a 3 year old toddler, I am not going to make assumptions, but that was despicable anonymous. If you have something against Alessia you should work it out a different way.

Alessia, to prevent random people from 'trolling" your blog just turn off the anonymous comments.

cookiemonstersnipe said...

I really hated the "what happens when you die question". They always came at like the worst times for me and the ability to confidently answer left my body. There were a few incidents involving that question but the big ones came when I lost a baby at almost 6 months pregnant then again when 3 of our dogs died due to that big dog poisoning thing. Neither time was I fully able to answer.

I ended up saying "well what do you think happens?" Those answers ranged from reincarnation, to heaven, to nothing. I don't personally want to tell my kids what I think and know happens when you die... I just think it's your personal choice what you believe happens and they're allowed those ideas and choices and I don't need to interfere.

My kids had the unfortuant event of picking up the ashes ... We had a small ceramony for the baby. We've saved all of the dogs ashes and the kids have started a small fund along with DH and I contributing the most to turn their ashes into diamonds. The idea of them being around forever as a diamond really seemed to help my kids cope.

But anyways I think you handled it really well! A lot better than I did that's for sure!

cookiemonstersnipe said...

Oh yes and I'd like to add I was a very weird child who has always had a really strange and morbid fascination with death.

My best friends father owned a funeral home and I used to spend hours there with the bodies just wondering about it all.

And honestly I can't say I was the brightest child ... But no one ever gave me the answers either. I was allowed to come to my own conclusions and I think I turned out pretty well!

South Florida Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
juliann8301@yahoo.com said...

Alessia - so sorry that some "Christians" actually think it's appropriate to throw insults at atheists or their children (and then hide behind the title "Anonymous"). Even my "closed-minded, small thinking, bigoted" mind can understand that such insults are NOT appropriate.
juliann brink (facebook)

Alessia said...

Juliann, thanks so much for your comment and welcome to the blog. I hope you understand that my "closed-minded" comment does not apply to ALL religious people. Just the ones that choose to be asshats. Lumping everyone into one category would be unfair to all the NICE people out there.

Once again, welcome!