ONE of the best parts of being a parent is being their sole source of all information ... for a small while at least.
These little people are only just now learning all kinds of random stuff and I am regularly reminded that they must still learn things like: not only what an anchor is, but why a boat can't just stop in the first place.
It's challenging to find not only the simplest way to describe what words like "guardian” mean but to also find a frame of reference that you know they'll respond to. And after that, you need to vet any response that an over-analytical four-year-old could begin to find concerning.
For example, the word guardian is part of a simple prayer that leaves out the suggestion that the kids could "die before they wake” and instead focuses on the presence of divine intervention.
Hence the term "guardian”. It once took me about three days of my son asking what "gardenia” meant when I realised he was referring to the prayer. I tried to explain about people who look after you, and then, just as I was about to launch into a spiel of angels, I considered how horrifying it could be to a four-year-old that someone he couldn't see was watching him. Particularly given the prayer is said at bedtime.
So, we left it at a simple explanation: people who watch out for other people.
Then he asked what "about” meant.
Won the battle, but obviously losing the war here.
But I love that my husband and I are posed with such questions. It is a chance to reflect on what such things mean to us and what lesson we want our children to draw from our answers.
Though sometimes it just gets too difficult. Take this one for example ... Our son is aware of the fact my husband and I once went skydiving (many moons ago).
"Where was I?” He asked.
"You weren't born yet.”
"But where was I?”
"Um, you were what's called a soul.”
"Was I with Nanny and
"No, you were ...” I looked at husband who shrugged.
"Was I in the plane?”
"Did I jump too?”
While I went with religion as a nightly comforter, I went with science when he asked "why are we on earth?”
"Because it's the only planet with air and water.”
"And ice-cream,” he added. Indeed. It's amazing to watch a little person learn.
Though sometimes the process can catch you unawares. I spent Mother's Day consoling my daughter who had suddenly realised that my own mother had died (years ago now) and she didn't want me to lose her. Her emotional intelligence melts my heart.
Peta Jo is an author and mother of three. She spent her birthday recently sick in bed, it was one of the best gifts she's had!
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