Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Paca explains the world (paca)

So B is 4 and that means that he now asks questions. He does ask the evil "why" a little, but not all that often and one doesn't need that word to stump a parent. A simple "what" will do the trick when used with the right object. Your job as reader is to tell me how I'm doing with my answers, should it take your fancy.

On the way home from the grocery store tonight in the car, he pointed at someone walking on the street and made a comment. I decided to add in, "he's a seurity guard." You know, one has to do vocab building exercises frequently so that he's ready to score at least 650 on the PKAT. Preliminary Kindergarten Achievement Test.

"What's security guard?"

Hmm... how to explain for a 4 year old. "He watches buildings and makes sure bad people don't get in."

"Keep the bad people out."


B then points at people walking down the main drag in Waikiki. "Those are bad people."

He has a point because they aren't inside, so it's very possible they are being kept out by the security guard, which means they are bad. (If Agent Kelly is still stopping by here, yep, this is the logical fallacy of affirming the consquent, but since adults do it routinely, I won't get upset when a preschooler does.) "Well," says Paca, "they could be bad, but they are probably good."

"Lots of bad people?"

"No, not too many, but there are some."

A bit later as we pull into the driveway, he says, "B, daddy, and maman aren't bad."

"No, we're not bad."

"We're good."

"Yep. But it's easy to be bad. You have to try really hard to stay good."

"Bad people are good people."

"Most of the time, yes."

I thought about going into an explanation of Aristotlean virtue ethics, but I let it go. That one was fairly easy to handle, though he now has the concept of bad people, so we will have to see how that plays out. He's already tried to force me to tackle religion, however, which is a bit more difficult. We visited the Japanese Byodo-In temple on Sunday by chance and there is a 19-foot Buddha inside. I don't think he knows who Buddha is other than a 19-foot statue inside the temple. On our first visit, he thought Buddha was scary, but he likes him now. This time I decided to light incense for the Buddha, a little stick for each of us. B asked why. I don't really know why you burn incense for the Buddha, so I said it makes Buddha happy. I then explained how his Uncle Llama also recently burned incense sticks for Buddha because it was Buddha's birthday. We were discussing Buddha's birthday until N comments, "hey, he knows more now about the Buddha than about-" I started whistling Dixie to pretend it was all a plot of mine to make our child Buddhist. Then I realized I was being falsely accused. "Hey, we spend weeks celebrating Jesus' birthday. We even have a nativity set. I don't remember playing 'The wise man brings presents to Baby Buddha nightly.'"

B did try to make me tackle God a couple months ago. The three of us were sitting in the Fort DeRussy Park which is our local beach access and is also a military recreation area, including a small church. The service inside apparently ended because lots of people were coming out. Somehow it got stated that they were coming out of church.

"What's church?"

"It's God's house."

"Who's God?"

"Yes, Paca," says N with a smirk, "who is God?" I'm the agnostic one, and she actually has beliefs. To me, this makes her far more qualified to answer the question, but for some reason, she seems to think I am responsible for this, being Mr. Philosophical. I was actually pretty stumped. I don't want to tell him something I think is false, but I also don't want to, well... remember, I'm agnostic, not atheist. I was certain I didn't want to talk about a guy with a beard on a cloud even as the child's version. I was stumped. Fortunately, B had little patience for my internal debates.

"I'm going to go see him."


"Go see God."

"At the church?"



"God lives there."

"Pretty much, yeah. Let's go see him."

B gets up from our little rest and heads off towards the church. This should be interesting, is what I'm thinking.

Unfortunately, dear reader, the ending to the story is anticlimactic, because a 4 year old's mind doesn't stay on one topic very long, even visiting God. We looked inside the open air chapel and I pointed out the cross and a pastor came and said hello to us. And by this time seeing God was no longer on his mind. I do suppose it is good that he wanted to see him in the first place.


writtenwyrdd said...

Such fun! I have no idea how to handle such things, but I'm sure you'll be busy building up your stock of amusing anecdotes for the next few years!

My mother always answered whatever questions we asked to the best of her ability and the limits of our understanding.

Which led to an Unfortunate Incident wherein my brother informed all of kindergarten how babies were made... It was 1964, so this was cause for an immediate parent/teacher conference.

Mamaebeth said...

hmm, i would probably talk about God in a similar way that you are talking about buddha. just kind of do what you can. Statues probably help as a visual aid.

we tell JD that we are going to church to see baby jesus. we talk about mama mary and papa joseph. i keep waiting for JD to call one of the babies at church "jesus" but so far he hasn't. we do some prayers at night that talk about god, but we haven't really gone into God at all. he is only 2. anyway, focusing on the nativity is the part i think JD can grasp. there's a family, barn yard animals, and angels. by 4 i am sure we will be talking about more.
at 4 you could probably talk about god in terms of relationships, love and friendship.

i may go back one day and get a masters in religous education, but this wasn't covered in my religous studies courses.

Lonely Coyote said...

Hey, whenever you do get the whole God-explanation thing figured out, could you explain it to me then. Cause like you, I'm a bit of an agnostic, and from what I hear, God don't like us fence-sitters too much. *laughs*

pacatrue said...

You know how babies are made? I need to know the secret! Tell me! Tell me!

What? You mean... there? with that? ohhhhh. oh my. well, um, that is interesting. huh. who'd a thunk it?

I forgot to mention that we've been dealing with death as well. That's a fun one.

-e, yeah, we are doing OK with all the human religious figures, Jesus and Mary; it's the father and holy spirit that's a difficult one. I think I need to treat it more like a story that he should hear.

No prob, coyote, when I got life, the universe, and everything figured out, I'll be sure to blog it.

Lonely Coyote said...

I'd much appreciate that Paca... Inquiring minds want to know... and also, back to the baby making stuff... I've got a 7 yr old niece and she asked me that question and I well, umm, err, didn't know what to say, and I'm pretty damn sure here mom and step-dad are not prepared to handle that question... so how did ya'll do it? We were referring to how baby dogs came out, and well, we kind of settled on that the mommy dog sort of poo'ed the baby out. I know simplistic, but that's the best I could do... I'm no father dammit, just an uncle...