Out of the mouth of babes comes the innocent, uncensored truth. Not vengefully, not intentionally. The simple truth, because it is. Isn't that just wonderful? Let's listen and learn.
A 4 years old's take on death:
My daughter returned home one day from Kindergarden, scared and confused, looking to me for reassurance. Her play-mate in Kindergarden had lost a grand parent and had been crying frequently about never being able to see her Grandma again. My little girl sat on the bathroom floor that evening, as we were going through the bed-time routine, and suddenly broke into sobs. Trying as best she could with her 4 years of experience and wisdom, to articulate the fear that the first encounter with death had triggered in her. 'Daddy should never die' she said (at this point I resist the 'Hey, what about Mummy??' reaction. Big of me, eh?). 'Because if daddy dies, I will have no Daddy and I don't want to have no daddy' she continued, between sniffles. At a loss for words, I take a moment to take stock of the situation. To come up with an explanation that would be as close to the truth as possible without upsetting her further. My very practical son who was playing the passive bystander till now, unexpectedly speaks. 'Why don't you and Daddy just die on the same day then? That way you won't have to live without him'. I gape on dumbfounded.
If in a diabolically benevolent way, he produced a cogent argument that I couldn't refute. My little girl sobbed on even louder and now her brother was confused as well about the continued fuss in spite of his fool-proof solution!
Accepting things you cannot change. Taught to me by a 4 year old:
It had been raining for 4 weeks on end, form April into May. Incessant, persistent, depressing rain. I was down to my last bit of cheerfulness, letting the lousy weather start to get the better of me. My 4 year olds must have been noting this, just as they note everything. One of these rainy miserable days, we arrive home, the three of us partially drenched and cold. I indulge myself in yet another rant about the weather and the rain and why it can't just stop!
Again, my wise 4 year old looks straight at me between his rain soaked black curls and says 'You know mummy, it rains in spring. That's how it is'. The part he left out was, 'The sooner you accept that, the better off we will all be'.
A 4 year old's understanding of emotions:
This was one of those times when the other parent was travelling on work. Four days into single parenting and juggling work, and I'm still determined, come what may, I shall not loose my cool. There was no one else the kids could turn to for refuge if I go ballistic on them. So I vowed to keep myself in close check, pull out all those hidden reserves of patience. That evening, while I busied myself with dinner, my daughter had painted her hand and finger nails with felt pens. Paper was apparently too boring. Then, she washed her hands (but not quite) so that the colours merely mixed with the water to form a kind of a green, blue slurry that trailed in several streaks down the white door that she had handled and was presently dripping the rest into her dinner, the rice that she was about to tuck into.
I sit there and look at her, giving her a long, dagger stare. I didn't say a word. She holds my gaze courageously, defiantly for a while and then says, 'Mummy, my heart is hurting'. I reply cooly, yet sternly 'Really baby, why is that?'. 'Because you broke it!'. She had seen through me, my cover was blown!
A 4 year old's take on Romance:
I was rushing back home one evening, as I am always rushing around, with my son in tow. It was dark, and the moon was full and smoky in it's celestial beauty. He gazes at it for a while with me coaxing him on. He then stops, looks up at me and says, 'The moon is made of clouds'. Just like that, simple and true. Not a question, but a fact. Shaking me out of my stupor, enlightening me.
Now I know too. The moon is made of clouds.