The inquisitive wonder of children

I love the stories my daughters share about the antics of their wee ones.
My grandchildren are learning to maneuver through this crazy world and the stories of them make me smile, giggle and guffaw on a regular basis, even the tales that involve emotional meltdowns.
The beauty of being a grandparent is I know they are perfect as they are and 99 percent of parenting is hindsight, or so it seems.
The things I worried about when immersed in diapers and sibling squabbles and in the terror of losing two-year-old Samantha in Sears all drift away and what is left are the absolutely precious moments that keep me warm on cold nights, that feed my soul when it is hungry and have me applauding my daughters who parent with far more wisdom than I did.
I was listening to philosopher Lee McIntyre on CBC Radio talk about a booth he and his philosopher colleagues set up in a New York subway station. “Ask A Philosopher,” they called it, for regular folk, every-day commuters to have access to pose a question to any one of them.
One little six-year-old girl asked a thoughtful question of Mr. McIntyre.
“How do I know I’m real,” she asked, which for a minute had him stumped on how to answer. He brought philosophy to her level.
“Close your eyes,” he said. “Now, did you disappear?” “No,” she replied. “Then you’re real.”
His explanation satisfied her and off she went. McIntyre says children are natural philosophers and I would heartily agree.
I think of all the questions my children posed to me, especially ones I had no easy answer to.
I fear I have forgotten so many of them. I wrote them down; I just can’t remember where.
I was preparing my Will when Samantha was about eight years old and when I explained to her what a will was she boldly asked if she could have Nassau, my wonderful horse. I told her I was hoping to outlive him, but Samantha wasn’t having any of that.
“There are no guarantees, Mom,” she said, shaking her head. “No guarantees.”
I was accused of saying no far too often to my children’s requests so I made a conscious effort to think before I answered and sometimes I delayed my response with “we’ll see.”
Samantha, again the most verbally enthusiastic of the four, said, “That’s just a slow way to say no.” She had a point.
Aimee used to call every airplane an emo. I asked her why, when she was four and she shrugged and said, “It works.”
Laurie always shouted she was fine and happy, especially when she was flying through the air from her pony, tumbling end for end into a heap. I think that was her positive thinking approach.
Thea may have had one of the noblest philosophies that I can recall.
She announced from the bathtub, buried in soap bubbles. “And nowhere does it say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty,” she proclaimed with fist raised before she disappeared into the bubbles. I can’t explain that one.
I wish there was a way to feed that naturally occurring inquisitive wonder in children rather than require them to fit in tidy containers that all look the same.
We require children to conform so that life runs smoothly for the rest of us, our time so limited and harnessed.
wendistewart@live.ca

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