I like to have philosophical conversations with my 6 year old.
You know why?
Because kids minds are so untainted and optimistic, they tend to take things at a very “face value” level. Using what they know (which is not much) they sometimes come to funny and suprisingly palpable conclusions, and have no qualms about rejecting logical things adamantly.
Kids keep shit real based on their own realities, realities that may or may not include the existence of fairies and monsters, super powers and the belief that birthday wishes come true. Many times children think they know everything but yet always ask to know more. They’re relentless learners and free thinkers and it’s one of the reasons I love them so.
The other is because they’re soo fucking easy to whoop in checkers. King me.
So I’m walking down the street with my 6 year old and she’s talking about the latest piece of junk shit she got out of those little quarter machines at the grocery store. She starts recounting all of the previous junk shit toys she can remember in one. long. run-on. sentence….
“So after that I got the little red squishy one that I thought was a crab but was really like a bull or a cow or something and even though I really didn’t want THAT one it was okay ’cause I didn’t have it in my collection yet, the one I really wanted was the whale even though it really doesn’t stay on the pencil as good as the squishy pig…..”
She’s talking so fast that she hasn’t even realized I’ve stopped walking.
“Psssst” I say. She spins around to see why the heck I’ve just halted. She’s looking at me with a very confused expression. I trail my eyes down to my foot where I am very obviously pointing my toe at something. Something shiny. Something round. Her eyes follow mine then suddenly grow wide and excited.
“A QUARTER!!” she shouts and jumps down in to a frog squat to grab it.
She is officially delighted and becomes even more so when she makes the connection.
“Isn’t that funny mommy, you know, how I was just talking about those toys in those machines and how I wanted the whale and now I find a quarter on the street..Now I can try and get it!”
“I found the quarter.” I remind her.
“Yeah, well that’s what I mean, YOU find a quarter, but I mean I was just talking about getting another squishy pencil topper, and now I can!!”
“Yup, fate.” I say and start walking.
“yea fate…. What’s fate?”
Hmmmmm, how am I gonna explain this..? Not with too much info but I still need to be explicit enough that she gets the gist. And then I go ahead and fuck it up.
“Well, fate is when something was meant to be, y’know, destined to happen…”
Why the fuck did I just say destined?? Now I’m gonna have to go ahead and…
“Well, what’s destined??”
Sigh, I just defined an otherwise simple idea with a more complex one that I will now have to explain as well… I shoulda just kept it at “Yup.”
“Well, destiny is like fate, it’s when something is meant to be or meant to happen no matter what you do.” I’m trailing off hoping that’s good enough.
“So, you mean like getting old?”
Haha, clever. Ok, I see this topic is way to enticing for her to just let go of, and I already put my foot in it, so fuck it. Let’s delve.
“Well, I guess you could say we’re all destined to get old, but I think it’s more then that. Some people believe that your life is like a path and so you’re on this path and certain things like what you’ll be when you grow up, and maybe people you’ll meet are kind of all already there, just waiting for you to get to that part of the path. Everything in your life is kind of like a story that’s already written and you’re the main character playing out the part that’s written… so in other words, YOU for instance were always my daughter even before I knew it, and even before I ever thought of having you.”
“That’s stupid.” she says, almost immediately.
“Ok, well that’s just impossible then. I mean, how could I exist if I wasn’t even born yet? That just doesn’t make any sense. And who would write my story? I don’t think someone else wrote MY story and I wouldn’t know about it. And that quarter, you know that quarter I found? ”
“Yeah, that YOU found, w
ell that was just a funny coincidence.”
I actually agree with her. I, myself am no ‘fatalist’… I’m more of a Butterfly Effect person.
Hmmm, let’s see how ‘stupid’ she thinks that idea is.
“Well, some people believe that everything that happens is because of every little decision you make. Like the fact that we decided to walk on the sunny side of the street caused us to find the quarter. If we had just crossed over, we would’ve missed it altogether.”
She is pensive now and for once, not talking.
“I’m gonna blow her fucking mind right about now..” I think.
“And not just that, but some people believe that that it’s not just every little decision YOU make but any little change that happens around you or even far away can change your future…”
I think I’ve said too much now. Which may not be bad. I’m about to say more.
“So, there’s this thing called the Butterfly Effect…”
I start explaining how a butterfly flapping his wings somewhere can start off a chain of events which could have possibly made this side of the street sunny enough for us to find the quarter.
“Coooool” she says “but, if we can’t see the butterfly… and we don’t know where he is, but he still makes the street sunny… then it’s like HE’S the one writing OUR story and we’re just the people acting it out….? I think the butterfly made us find that quarter, and it’s been waiting for us all along.”
OOOooooo. She’s got me. Which is good. The brain is churning, wheels spinning and she’s even got me pondering shit for a minute.
I’m about to correct her again about who found the quarter, but on second thought, I just shut up and enjoy the thoughtful silence.