Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We'll Get That In A To-Go Box

You know when a kid says something and you can't decide if it's funny or cute, or actually kind of profound? Some kid-utterances just need to be recorded.

(It started like this [Achtung: sappiness alert!]: "No matter what happens, I will always love you sooooo much." G replied smugly that, no, I can't love her when I'm dead; to which I responded [unconvincingly, as  you will see] that my heart probably could still love her even if I'm in heaven.)

Turns out Li'l G doesn't believe in heaven anyway. At least, not in the form that we usually sell kids - and that I, too, tend to proffer sheerly out of unwillingness to plunge her unsullied imagination prematurely into my kind of anything's-possible, pragmatic darkness.

This, says My Girl, is heaven: A wooden box and everyone's in it leaning against the walls, and God's there shining a light. God's the only one walking around. (She was too tired to tell me how the people feel about this.)

And she adds, with that 'isn't-that-so-naive-and-sweet' tone we grown-ups sometimes use when discussing kids, "And you think Grandpa's up on a cloud looking down at us!" 

What do you think... (and I'm not trying to sound like Green Eggs and Ham here)... will we end up in the clouds? In a box? What do/ would you tell your tykes? Is there a cut-off age when you consider them less in need of hearing shiny-happy versions of things, or do you give it straight from the git-go?


  1. Well, I only have an almost four year old, but I have never told her about heaven, even though I have had to talk about mortality so much earlier than I ever imagined. But I don't believe in heaven, and so I feel weird telling her that. Sometimes I say that Lucy is in everything, because once you die, you become part of everything in the universe. I explain that the soul is like a raindrop that falls into the ocean, so you cannot separate it, but it is still her. I just tell her that we keep people alive with our love and keep them in our hearts and thoughts and in our stories about them. She doesn't seem disturbed about that. But as she gets older, I imagine it will get more complicated. I love G's explanation of it, even though it kind of sounds like an existentialist play. Love to you both.

  2. I also love G's explanation. We speak about the soul and how it lives on whether you decide to be buried or cremated and it lives in all the beauty around us. Cormack likes to think we all return as animals and I can't say we won't because as I've told him I don't know as I haven't died yet (or at least I can't remember). Annika made an urn at school and said "mum it will come in handy when you die". I told her I didn't plan on leaving earth soon and she laughed out loud. I often feel as if Cormack has been here before so perhaps we become part of a new soul!

  3. Where does she get it!

    Love her explanation, even though it completely freaks me out. We've always told our children we don't know what happens after people or animals die but that some people choose to believe that they go to a place they call heaven but no one really knows.

    But now, Now, I can add G's explanation to the litany : )

  4. Thanks for sharing, everyone!

    I dare say that G's explanation doesn't really make me want to strive to get into heaven. I'm not sure if she knows the concept of hell, but could it be much worse than leaning against a wall in a wooden box for eternity?

    It all underscores the motto, "Be good for goodness' sake!"

    Angie, the explanation with the drops of rain in the ocean is beautiful.
    Jane, that is funny about the urn - and Cormack! Old soul, is he?
    Kooki, I also usually buffer statements about all these profound unknowns with, 'no one knows for sure,' or 'a lot of people think that...." I just can't remember anyone ever saying that when I was little - that they don't really know.

  5. I've never been able to hide being a total nonbeliever. I never volunteered to talk about it, but when asked I told the truth. Unfortunately, the kids found it pretty easy to believe that death is the end of life and everything. Maybe they're just unimaginative.