I was taken aback when I first heard my then 5 year old son say these words. It was a normal weekday and we were returning from his sports. While waiting outside the lift my son threw me this bouncer. I went reeling but, as you can imagine, I could not show it! Very carefully and casually ( I tried my best to appear casual) I asked him, “Why do you ask?”
“There are people dying all the time. Why do they die? And why were they born if they had to die?”, he asked in reply.
No mother wants her child to think about death. We want to protect our children from these sad realities for as long as we can. However, it is impossible to raise them in a vacuum. They are bound to come across these things as they grow up. How could I tell him that this question that he was asking me today at the tender age of 5 years is something most people have not been able to answer in all their lifetime. Philosophers and world thinkers have not been able to find the meaning of life and the reason of why we have come to earth. I felt a moment of panic. I was scared to give him wrong ideas, but to not answer would be even more damaging as it will leave him wondering.
So I took a deep breath and tried to answer his question to the best of how I understand it. “We all come here to fufill our purpose. We are sent on earth to do something. We may not realise how big or small our role is but in God’s plan, we all have a role to play.”
Not to be let off easily, he persisted, “But Mumma, what do you mean by purpose?”
It was then that inspiration struck me. I took him to his cycle and explained. “The tyres of a cycle are in the shape of a circle. When we start the cycle one end of the tyre touches the ground, then it goes up and around only to come back to the ground again. But when it touches the ground a second time it has helped move the cycle a short distance. It has helped make a difference. In the same way, we all are born to take this world ahead it its journey of life, one tiny step at a time.”
He thought about it for a while and then seemed to be satisfied with this explanation. I wonder what his little mind understood and what remained unanswered. But he left it at that. I hope he is one day able to decipher the meaning of life. I, for one, am still looking for answers.
Kids often come up with unexpected questions out of the blue. Some may make us laugh, some may make us panic but they all give us a glimpse of what is going on in the curious little minds. One thing I have learnt as a parent is to never dismiss them. I have always tried to answer them to the best of my knowledge and their ability to understand.
Has your child ever caught you unawares with a question you found difficult to answer? Please share them here along with how you dealt with it.