Of Stars and Ours

NASA forgot to put grandpas on this diagram.

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.

6 thoughts on “Of Stars and Ours

  1. LOL!! I have the same views on things like this as you do. I have told the boys that their grandpa, while dead, is still very much alive in our memories of him and that in a way he is out there in nature – part of a leaf, a twig, a cloud, the corn stocks in the fields. I don’t think they like that much abstraction as it is hard to wrap ones head around it, but sometimes there are no simple answers.

  2. HA! Brilliant! The universe is a complicated place anyway and humans only have a tiny inkling of how it all works. In a multiverse, its perfectly feasible for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (who used to knock on our door every Easter, dressed in a to hat and waistcoat) to co-exist – well disprove me? Oh and I have a chemistry degree and LOVE science.

  3. I love MBot’s new found knowledge! I think he may be on to something. The next thing he will ask you is how some people can be a big ball of gas and still be alive at the same time…

  4. Yes, a tiny inkling. And how lovely that the Easter Bunny visited you, and so properly dressed! Yes, we’re a sciencey family. After reading about Alexander Fleming, Mbot insisted we put a piece of bread in a jar and grow mold so we could make our own medicine. :> And he still lovingly fondles the model of the large intestine he made one morning out of tape and those long balloons you’re supposed to use to blow up and twist and make animals. Sounds like you two would get along swimmingly!

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