What's it All About? when Your Child Questions the Meaning of Existence

Existentialist wonder My little guy, 5 1/2, is prone to "deep" statements and questions lately, and I've grown accustomed to it.

"Mommy, new things happen every day."

"Mommy, do you remember, a long time ago, when I was 5?"

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But I was not quite prepared the other night when he sat up in bed.

"Mommy? Can I ask you a question?"

"No, go back to sleep."

(Come on, it was late, he's always trying to push past bedtime and sometimes you're just not in the mood, you know?)

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Undeterred, he pressed on.

"Mommy? Can I ask you a question?"

Sigh. "Yes, sweetie, what is it?"

"Mommy, the future, it's not the end, right?"

Pause. Where was this conversation going to lead? "Right."

"It's not the end of the world, right? It just keeps going?"

Wow. Where did this come from? "Yes, the world just keeps going on."

"And when a person dies, they're dead. But the world just keeps going?"

The pause I took probably seemed longer to me than it was, because my boy doesn't tend to let long pauses fill space and begins speaking again. But he didn't say anything before I finally said, "Right. The world just keeps going."

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"OK," he said, a slight smile on his face, resting his head back on his pillow.

Within moments, he was finally asleep.

I don't know what sparked this line of questioning. We'd had no news that might have caused him to start thinking about his mortality. They'd been learning about nouns and sentence structure in kindergarten, so I doubt that was it.

It could be that a little classmate said something that led to this train of thought. Whatever the case, it reminds me of how open the minds are of our little ones - how much they want to absorb and learn. How much they want to know how everything works, including life, the universe and everything.

What's the most out-there, existential thing your children have asked you?

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