02 March 2007

Conversations (or, Exercises in Humility)

Talking with Katrina is an exercise in humility. I hear about children who talk about what happened at school or what their friends are doing, but nearly all attempts to elicit information from my daughter are met with resistance. Apparently, school is her domain, and she only occasionally drops little pearls of information for us to hoard and speculate about later.

But that's not the humbling part. Because as much as Katrina dislikes talking about her own experiences, she adores asking questions. About everything. Pretty much any conversation with her that lasts more than a minute or two exposes at least one hole in my knowledge base. A vast, dark ignorance. And here I am, a college graduate.

Here are the topics that we covered in the time it took to eat breakfast yesterday.

"How is bread made from wheat?" A good start! I can answer that one! Although, no, I don't really know how the grains of wheat are separated from the rest of the plant. And the closest I can come to explaining how they are ground into flour is to say they use a machine like our coffee grinder. I mention the other ingredients quickly, hoping that she won't want an explanation of what yeast is and how it works (good, she doesn't ask that one).

Next question: "How do they get the milk from the cows into the milk container?" OK, I can answer that, too. "And then they sprinkle sugar into it?" Um, no...hmm. Oh yeah, I explained some time back that she could no longer drink milk at bedtime because it had sugar that could hurt her teeth if it sat in her mouth all night. "No, honey, the cows put the sugar in when they make the milk." And then she launches into a rambling musing about what if a baby cow had no mama or papa. I have no response to this, being a bit confused as to how we got there.

Next question: "How did they make that door out of wood and cut it and fit it into that hole?" Buzzzz. I answer vaguely with something about cutting the wood and measuring the doorway. I'm sure there is more to it than that, but I just don't know.

Then, breakfast is over and it's time for the Ride to School Philosophy Hour (actually only about 15 minutes, but it can seem longer). You see, there are two times when Katrina's mind turns to the questions of the universe: when we're in the car, and when she is on the toilet. No, I don't know why.

For the past few days, she's wanted me to play her "God songs" in the car. That's a children's CD with worship songs. These are not kiddie songs like "Jesus Loves Me," but worship songs you'd hear in a contemporary church service or on Christian radio. And, boy, do they bring on the questions.

"Mama, why do they call God a rock?" (This said in a faintly indignant tone, like she thinks someone is calling God names.) I've explained a number of times that the song is really saying that Jesus is like a rock, being strong and always there, but I'm not sure she really gets it. Because she keeps asking the question. Every time the song plays.

"What is a Judah?" This from a song that repeats "Hail, hail, Lion of Judah" approximately 264 times. It is a catchy tune, so she's been singing it. And really, how much meaning does "Lion of Judah" have to present-day adults, either?

"Why do they say the lion and the lamb?" I say something about God being as fierce as a lion but as gentle as a lamb. She says it must be that God is fierce to "bad guys" and gentle to "good guys." I kinda go "umm-hmm" and let it stand. I've got nothin'.

And then there is the whole Trinity deal. Oh, yes. I'm driving her to school at 8:50 in the morning and trying to explain the Holy Trinity to a four-year-old. Because she gets that Jesus is God, and that God is God. So, naturally, that means that there are two gods. I, of course, try to correct her by talking about the "mystery" that is the Trinity, but I think all she gets is that there's a Spirit, too. Yay! I can't wait until she tells our pastor that there are only three gods.

She's four years old, people. And I end up trying to explain parts of theology that wise people with seminary degrees have trouble with. I thought we'd still be in the "God loves you" territory at this age, but she's on to why the bad guys killed Jesus, and exactly when is Jesus coming back, anyway? Maybe tomorrow?

And I haven't even mentioned our conversations about plumbing and water treatment and how did Pap used to make paper (which she finds fascinating...maybe Pap needs to explain to her how it's done) and how do they make books and get the pictures on the page and what are those white things by the side of the road and why are bad guys bad and why do we live longer than lions and why did God make people after dinosaurs and why are the dinosaurs all dead and what would happen if there were one dinosaur left--would he eat our house and why are they digging there and what does the yellow light mean and does the traffic light know we are not going straight and when are we going to Raina's birthday party? Wait...that one I can answer.

Reading: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
Listening to: Eleventh Hour by Jars of Clay
Watched on DVR last night: "Torchwood"; "Medium"

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Hey, if she wants to know what makes bad guys bad, then maybe you could read Hannibal Rising to her as a bedtime story... Bain said it's a good read; I haven't gotten to it yet, but it's all about the childhood of Hannibal Lechter, and how he became Hannibal the Cannibal, etc. Maybe THAT would end some questions... ;)