My daughter says some of the funniest and profound things I hear these days….even surrounded by adults as I am all day at work. Here’s some samples that have either made me laugh or startled me with their vision.
- Last night at the Outback upon seeing a grossly obese man who did not fit into one chair and was truly huge, she said in an aside, eyes averted and with droll expression, “Someone has been eating here too much.”
- Describing a beach in Hawaii that she visited that is considered the second most beautiful in the world, “The sand was as soft as a baby’s butt.”
- Yesterday in the mall, pushing Liam in a stroller, watching him consume a vanilla milkshake from DQ, “He’s drinking it like it’s his job!”
Now this next one is the kicker, really. A few months back, before she had even turned 9 years old we were riding in the car to or from somewhere and she asked me, “Mom, have you ever wondered what it was all about? Like, why did God make us and what were we created for? What is our purpose?”
Yeah, I was stunned. I didn’t start asking such questions until I was 10 years old and I never dared to ask an adult (being raised in the 1970’s South where ‘children were to be seen and not heard’). I was young, maybe as young as 8 but I had had a very difficult childhood and such things will always make a child start wondering, “Why me?’ and that always leads to “What am I here for? Who made me and why was I made to suffer?’ I received an answer at 10, not the correct one, but an answer all the same. It happened when I accepted ‘Jesus into my heart’ and was baptized in a tank of freezing water high above a fervent and frenzied Southern Baptist congregation. Too bad I couldn’t separate out Jesus from the rest of the crazy stuff, but I digress.
Here Meghan was at 8 and 3/4, asking me about the meaning of life. I know she’s bright but I wasn’t expecting that one. The divorce, notwithstanding, she has had a pretty good childhood….how many 9 years old’s do you know have been to both Disney World and Disney Land, on a Caribbean cruise, and to Hawaii to snorkel and surf? Not with me, of course. With my ex and his family…don’t me started on that nonsense. But if anything, their refusal to deal with anything deeper than what new outfit from Justice she should be wearing only made the question all that more startling. I actually expected that kind of question once she’d gone off to college and started smoking pot like so many American youth before her.
To stall I asked her if her friends ever thought of such things and expressed it to her. She said no and when she did express such questions the other kids look at her funny. B0y I could relate to that! I remember in the 8th grade, after seeing the movie, “The Day After“, going into school and being so thoroughly disgusted with the pettiness of my schoolmates as to scold a fellow student about how silly she was to worry about boys and how she looked when Ronald Reagan had his arthritic finger on the nuclear button. So, yeah, I could relate.
But I didn’t tell her about that experience. Maybe I should. In any case, I ultimately had to tell her that I didn’t know THE answer to her question but I had an answer that made sense to me. And that was actually one of the purposes of life, to find out what you are here for and to follow that path. I explained my theory on why humans existed, as best I could in terms an 8 and 3/4 year old might understand. In the end, I probably left her with more questions. However, she left me feeling slightly stunned but also good. Good because she was the kind of kid to ask such questions and that any fears about potential shallowness were, in the end, probably not going to be a problem.
But one should always be careful what one wishes for….If her wit and depth are like this at 9, what on Earth will she be like at 16? I just might be in for quite the ride.