Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Son's Venture Into Philosophy Revealed My Lack of Pride

As children, we struggle to solve the riddles of the world around us. We seek answers to life’s toughest questions. We desire knowledge to soak up into the sponge that is our brain. We seem to need to fill the space and so we constantly ask why. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? We ask these things in order to figure out the world around us. When the person we ask doesn’t have the facts readily available, we are a little disappointed.

My sons have asked plenty of questions like this and, in the age of the Internet, Wikipedia and Google, I can always tell them that we will look up any answer I can’t provide them immediately. With the growing prevalence of smart phones I can even start that process immediately. There is almost no waiting for an answer to any question.

But lately, my eight-year-old has been asking questions that he knows have no single answer and he seems to be learning a lot about the world and his loved ones while doing so. He has taken a rather existential approach to seeking information.

“Ask your uncle and daddy the questions you asked me the other day,” my wife instructed him.

“Alright,” he said then gave a deep sigh, nonverbally preparing us to explore the deepest recesses of our being and discover that which makes us truly ourselves. “What is food you hate the most in the whole world?”

“Candy corn,” his uncle answered.

“Now, what is your favorite food?” he asked next.


“Okay, so…(pause for dramatic effect…what if they made pizza flavored candy corn?”

We were instantly stricken silent. My brain felt like the proverbial computer who has just encountered something so contradictory to its programming that overload was imminent.

My six-year-old, ever the pragmatist, tried to help, probably seeing the intense look of confusion on our faces. “You wouldn’t eat it. It’s still candy corn.”

“But it would taste exactly like pizza, not like candy corn,” chimed in my wife.

The emotions of Ewwwww and Hmmmmm alternated on their uncle’s face. “I don’t think I would eat it,” he finally said, but didn’t seem to even believe himself.

The next round of questions was then posed. My eldest son asked his younger brother, “Who is your archenemy?”

I’m proud of my younger son’s straight-forward, honest demeanor. I appreciate that he can see things for what they are. He answers most questions quickly and confidently, sure of who he is. That’s how he answered this question, but even more than the matter-of-fact way he answered it, the answer itself made me proud.

“The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings,” he announced quickly.

“And what is the thing you want the most?” his older brother then asked.

“Nerf guns.”

“So, what if the Packers and Vikings wanted to give you a bunch of Nerf guns?”

My youngest didn’t hesitate. “I would take them and then shoot them all with darts.” This included a pantomime of the actions he would take and a lot of shooting noises.

“But what if the guns had the Packers and Vikings symbols on the side?”

This time, even my six-year-old paused, but not for long. “Then I would take the guns, shoot them with darts and then break the guns and stomp all over them.”

Well met.

The question came to me next. Partially as a joke because he had just come up in conversation, I answered that Justin Beiber was my archenemy. My hatred here comes form the fact that one of my son’s friends once saw a Beatles coffee mug I was drinking from and thought it was a Justin Beiber mug (two side notes, 1: this was made into a third person story Making the Cut on this very blog; 2: that kid has not been invited back to our house since).

“What is the thing you want the most?”

My wife answered (accurately I might add) that I would want a lake house in Minnesota. I agreed and the final question came, asking what I would do if Justin Beiber gave me a lake house in Minnesota and I answered almost as quickly as my six-year-old.

“I would fish every day and you would hear from my boat on the lake: Like baby, baby, baby, oh! Like baby, baby, baby, oh! I thought you’d always be mine!”

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