Monday, August 03, 2009

Conversations with a Five-Year-Old: Life, the Universe, and Everything

"Why are we here?" he asks from the back seat of the car.

Because this is the road we need to be on to get where we need to go, we say. We are going to the ice cream store, like you asked us to, and this is the road that leads to it.

"No, no no no, no no NO," he says. "Not why are we here, on the road. This has nothing to do with ice cream. Why are we living? Why are we here?" And then before we can even begin to think of an answer, he adds, confidently, "That's a hard question."

It is, we say. Philosophers, we say — philosophers, those are people who study hard questions — and scientists, and writers, and all sorts of people have thought and thought and thought about that question and not found an answer.

Then I think for a minute and I ask him, "Why do you think we are here?"

"Maybe we are here to help animals," he muses. "But then, what are the animals here for?"

"Maybe we are here to help each other," his father and I say, at the same time.

"Maybe," I add, "We're here just to learn as much as we can about the universe."

"I'll go with that one," the child says. "Or maybe the other. Or maybe a different one. Hmm."

As we drive down the road to the ice cream store in silence, I think: I used to wonder, too. But now I think I know. I'm here because this is the road I need to travel on to get where I need to go. I'm here because of you, child. Because of your father, too. I'm here because of you.


Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

It seems that everyone is here for different reasons. And that's awesome.

Awesome Mom said...

Wow that boy really likes to throw you for a loop!

Jaelithe said...

Tell me about it. The last thing I expected to hear on the way to the ice cream store! Heh.

Farrell said...

great answers, btw.

Magpie said...

I love this. I get similar stuff out of my five year old.

Anonymous said...

Young kids are natural philosophers, and I've found that the best response to those questions are "what do you think?" I think that's why they ask anyway, to tell us what they think.

Jason said...

This is a great blog you have here. I have a humor blog myself and I would like to exchange links with you. You can contact me either through email or simply by a comment on my site. It's a win-win situation for both of us. Let me know if this is possible. Jason

Jane said...

Conversations with our children are the best. I wish you well in all your endeavors. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, there's a new social networking site dedicated to parents and kids, it's called - it's a place for Moms, Dads, and Kids! Now, there’s even a chance to win a free iPod Nano!. It would be so nice of you to join our parents’ forums and polls. Thanks a lot and have a great day!

Kim said...

I've said it before, Issac is a smart child. Probably smarter than me.

Jet Harrington said...

lovely conversation to have with anyone, poignant to have with our children; i love the symmetry of the helping relationship: if we are here to help the animals, maybe they are here so that we have someone to help - yes, indeed, here to help each other; i'm a brand new visitor - thank you for sharing this story