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Deep Questions My Kid Asks Me at Bedtime

Photograph by Twenty20

Whenever our house winds down for the night, I settle next to my youngest child, a 6-year-old, as I relax with her until she falls asleep. Sometimes we read books, sometimes we cuddle, sometimes I sing songs to her, and sometimes we have massive heavy duty talks about dying.

Even though I'll admit that sometimes I'm surprised by their questions, I have no problem being frank with my kids, My little one, though, is at the age where she's really curious and interested in learning about how life works—and she's also learning how it doesn't. With a few recent deaths in the family, and the amazing rate of increasing brainpower she's developing, it's no wonder that our nighttime conversations often turn to the gritty reality of human life and death.

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At first, the hard questions she asked as night crept over our home caught me off guard. I sometimes had to fight to remain enlightening and neutral, even when the subject matter was a little hard for me to talk about. Now, however, I'm accustomed to her queries. She takes each answer seriously, but she isn't burdened with the emotional baggage that often drags adults down. The world is a learning experience for her, and it's really refreshing to see how interested she is in the finer points of life and death, and how easy it is for her to talk about these things.

Here are a few real-life examples of questions this wee child has asked as she drifts off to sleep.

"How long are you going to live?"

"When am I doing to die?"

"How do babies get in their mom's tummies?"

"Where does hamburger come from?"

"Do they kill the cows?"

"What is it like to be dead?"

"Which one of us is going to die first?"

"Are babies smart?"

"Do only old people die?"

And so on, and so forth. As painful as some of these answers are for me to share with her (particularly that last one), she doesn't seem disturbed or bothered by my responses.

I think that as night falls, she feels more relaxed and as she has my undivided attention, it feels like the perfect time to ask the truly meaningful questions. She probably knows that asking a question like this while I'm trying to make dinner is likely to result in an unsatisfactory answer , so she reserves the big ones for bedtime.

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No, not every night is wrought with talks of death, cemeteries, or how babies are made, but nighttime is definitely the time these big talks take place. It's almost like I have a classroom, and my only pupil is teaching me just as much, if not more, as I reflect on the topics at hand and consider how it relates to myself, to her, and to the world at large.

As she grows, I hope we continue to have these special conversations, especially once she becomes more independent. It's kind of funny how such topics, which many would deem morbid or strange, are actually drawing us closer together. Motherhood is a wild and wonderful thing, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

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