First thing after breakfast all the children went the back yard to play. In the yard, the baby pool was full of water from another day’s play. The kids reached in and splashed a bit. Then Annie, who is almost 4, ran to the porch and told me she wanted to swim. There was a swimsuit on the patio table that had been left there to dry. She pointed at it when she asked to swim. I grabbed it and quickly slipped it onto her. After a few seconds Annie began to wiggle and scream as a nickel sized spider crawled out of the suit onto her breast. I tried to help her brushing the spider away. But it’s sticky silk prevented us from getting it off immediately. It bounced from breast to arm, to leg, to leg, to leg, and then to toes where she danced on it lightly and then it bit her toe. The spider made a dash for the grass where it vanished. Annie, of course, was traumatized at the hairy, scary, tickly attack. She no longer wanted to swim. The thought of getting into a different swimsuit had no appeal as she explained there were definitely spiders in the pool as well.
The Child Philosopher
Later as we made our way through home school lessons my son had an existential moment. He paused from his work, his face became long and he looked as though the weight of the world were pressing down upon him and indeed it had. He said, “Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here. Is the world an illusion? Is God real? Why doesn’t he answer me? Why doesn’t he tell in words that this world is real?”
I played Socrates and started asking him “the questions,”
“What about this world would make you think this world is an illusion? What are some things that indicate that this world is real?”
He began to talk about God some more without answering my questions. So I talk to him about how God talks to us—in silence, in signs, in our humiliation and devotion. I talked to him about seeing the signs of God.
These are questions men have been asking for ages, son. It’s just not usual to start pondering this all when you’re just shy of eight years old. I guess he takes after his father and grandfather. I know the path you should take in this world, son. Now where should I start with such a young philosopher?