Mbot has been studying the solar system in preschool, and his newfound knowledge has raised some vexing questions.
Let me backtrack to say that although I’m a champion of science, evolution, and telling children the truth, I also believe in Santa Claus and that we just don’t have explanations for everything–like what happens to you after you die. I’m willing to say, “I don’t know.” But it’s more poetic to say, “you turn into a star.” I kind of like the abstract truth, the law of conservation of matter, the ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing, the fact that the molecules that make up my nasal passages today were at some point in time inside stars, and at some point in time will be something else. And so, when Mbot at the age of two asked tearfully where his Grandpa Ferdie, who passed away many years ago, is, I told him he is a star, and I even pointed one out to him, a very bright star in the winter sky.
The subject comes up intermittantly, and came up again this morning on the way to school, when he asked from the back seat, apropos of nothing, “You mean Grandpa Ferdie is a big ball of gas?”
“Yes,” I replied. Kind of because there was no other answer.
Mbot: “Mrs. Pursell said that every star is a big ball of gas.”
“Yes,” I said again.
Mbot: “That means that Grandpa Ferdie is a big ball of gas.”
“That’s right,” I said.
He seemed content with that.
We’ll save the chemistry books for another day.