Sometimes I’m not so sure whose the teacher and whose the student. Cliché right?! But seriously! The questions that can come from the mouth of my babies can catch me off guard. They are often sprinkled in with nonsense questions so they REALLY catch me off guard, and they’re often asked when I’m distracted (cooking, driving, etc.).
“Mama. What that over there?”
“Mama. What in the sky?”
“I think it’s an airplane.”
“Mama. Where Dada?”
“He’s at work sweetie.”
“Mama. Why are there people in the world?”
Seriously?! Do you even know what you’re asking?! Are you sure you’re only 2 1/2 years old?!
“Um. Well. I think there are lots of people out there trying to answer that question.”
But it got me thinking, why are we here? And. Well. That just opened a big ol’ can of worms. It’s such a big question that it actually makes my head hurt when I try to contemplate the possibilities. Some of the realities of our world and our human lives seem so important, meaningful, and huge. And then there are some realities that remind me that everything in my life has about the same significance as a single grain of sand on a beach.
How do I even begin to answer that question? More importantly, how do I begin to answer that question in toddler-ese? I thought about his world, and what he would understand. I thought about how he plays, explores, investigates, and becomes so lost in a moment, that it actually makes we wonder if we’re always on the same planet. And then I thought, what am I doing? I’m not qualified to answer this question! I’ll just tell him I don’t know. Because that’s the truth.
But so often, when I just say, “I don’t know,” it doesn’t compute for him. I’m mama. I know all. As far as he can tell, I’m the ruler of the universe (boy wouldn’t that be a job).
So I thought through my options: I could say we’re here to connect, to find love, to care for others, and seek belonging. I could say we were here to learn how to be better humans, while still accepting ourselves and others with all our inadequacies. I could tell him that I really don’t know and that sometimes I get bogged down trying to find “the reason,” and that in all honestly, it’s quite possible (if not probable) that I’m entirely and completely wrong most of the time. I have no answers. Not for myself, and not for.
But instead. I paused. I took a deep breath, and said, “I’m not really sure honey.” And instead of demanding a different answer, he took a breath and said, “That okay mama.”
There was silence for a time, and then he said, “Mama, can you sing Wheels on the truck?”
Ah… now I know why I’m here.