May 30, 2013 by Dadinator
At this stage of his life The Lad is absorbing knowledge, forming words, forming habits and generally being cute. I try to teach him some basics: fire is hot, my glasses aren’t a toy, the cats don’t like their tails to be pulled, and that he shouldn’t get too close to edges on play equipment.
One day, one day soon the questions will start. He will ask about the sky, about the cats, about himself, about the world. He will say “why” a lot. I can deal with that, however incessant it may be and however infinite the layers of why might be, I know I can deal with that. He will ask where babies come from, which is okay its important that he knows that. He might ask about girls/boys, whichever he prefers. One day he might ask why bad things happen, i can deal with that too. What I fear is when he asks why people do bad things.
I fear that question because at the heart of it I don’t have an answer, just a whole lot of my own questions. Are people born sick? Have they had bad things happen too them? Are they simply delusional, thinking what they are doing is normal or even righteous? Are there people out there who are jus plain evil? I do not know, so how can I answer that question if it is put to me?
I want my boy to think the world is a good place, and that his fellow human beings are good too. Plato writes about how Socrates explained it once: you can’t be happy if you think the world is an evil place full of evil people because you cannot experience love and friendship (my simplistic interpretation, go read the start of The Republic if you want the full thing). I want The Lad to be happy. I also don’t want him to see the world as goodies and baddies, a world of black and white, because those dichotomies devolve easily into “us” and “them”. I want him to have empathy, because with empathy comes a better world. But how do you do that with a child?
I have time to think it out. Unfortunately I imagine I’ll think in circles. I guess at some stage as a parent you just have to trust your judgement, trust that you know your own child and trust that when the time comes, so will the words. And trust that maybe it’s okay to tell your child that you don’t know everything.