This evening after dinner, Isaac started begging me to go outside.
"It's almost dark outside already," I told him, showing him through the window. "We'll have to play outside tomorrow when it's daytime."
He sighed in resignation and hung his head. Suddenly, he perked up, and asked, "Mommy, where does the sun go?"
My first inclination, honestly, was just to tell him the sun was going to bed. As he would be shortly.
I mean, how do you explain the reason for sunsets to someone with minimal language skills and only the most basic, mostly subconscious understanding of things like spatial relationships and geometry? Who doesn't have the foggiest idea he lives on a giant (how big is giant?) spherical (what's a sphere?) object called a planet (what's that mean?) that spins around as it hurtles through outer space (where's outer space?) around a much, much more giant flaming (huh? why? what lit it?) ball of nuclear (what?) fusion?
So, yeah, I was on the point of making up a clever one-sentence fairy tale (or, okay, let's face it, stealing one made up by some mother of antiquity whose precocious two-year-old decided to ask her the same flabbergasting question), when I thought about a conversation I had earlier today with Andrea about how amazed I've been at the volume of convenient fabrications that have come out of my mouth since I became a parent
("If you don't eat that turkey right now, I'm going to eat it all myself!" Says the vegetarian mother.
"Thomas and Percy are too sleepy to play. They want to go night-night in their cozy plastic box now."
"Mommy can't stay next to your bed reading to you for another hour and a half because she has to go potty right now. Right now! I can't wait! Sorry! See ya later! Good night!"
"Turkey? Oh, no. That's not turkey. It's white ham!"),
and then Andrea asked if I'd read any of the discussion quasi-recently over at The Mom Trap about whether deceiving children for convenience's sake undermines a parent's credibility, and I replied that that when it comes to getting my child to eat I am willing to say just about ANYTHING
("Thomas and Percy LOVE to eat turkey. Didn't they tell you?")
but that I had in fact read that discussion, and the whole "never lie" idea was an interesting theory, really.
So, when Isaac asked me where the sun goes, in a moment of guilt over my no-good dirty lying parenting ways, I grabbed a big blue exercise ball and an enormous flashlight and attempted to demonstrate the basics of planetary motion for a pre-schooler.
I don't think he understood a word of it.
But afterward, he kept pointing the flashlight at the ceiling and saying ecstatically, "Look Mommy! I made the sun!"
Which really cheered him up after the whole not going outside deal.