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Send Help: My Four-Year-Old Is Questioning The Universe

by Jenna Stewart
Jenna lives in Vermont and is behind the blog Motherhoodwithatwistofocd.com.

Calling all parents: I need your help. My four year old is starting to ask the tough questions. You know the ones that I am talking about. The questions that make you want to hide under the bed, and hope they find someone else to ask, kind of questions. The kind that involve questioning the universe.

I already don’t have the answers to most of the things she asks, but I have become pretty equipped to “BS” my way through the constant barrage of “whys” and “how comes?”

Recently though, I’ve been blindsided by some questions that require a little bit more grace, and a lot more wine. I have the wine, but the grace, not so much. To be completely honest, I am nervous that I am going to mess this up. I know there are no perfect answers to life’s biggest questions, but are there wrong answers?

What is the right way to talk to your children about the tough stuff? Death? Where babies come from? Evolution of mankind?

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I don’t remember how old I was when I first started to understand what death really meant, but if I had to guess, it was around 10 years old.

So, how do I gently ease my four year old into what it means? She is so little and innocent. The biggest thing she has to worry about right now is what junk food choice she wants in her lunch. I don’t want to weigh her down with the heaviness of death or the fact that unfortunately, it will be something she needs to deal with in the future.

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So, when an animal dies in the movie she is watching, and I see her eyes well with tears, and she turns and looks at me and asks, “What’s happening momma?” I panic and unfortunately, usually respond with something incredibly awkward.

“They got really hurt and now they need to rest.”

This usually sparks more questions like, “How long do they need to rest for?” “Will they wake up and be better?” “Why are they resting in the ground and not in their bed?” “Will I be buried in the ground?”

One thing I know for sure is that talking to your four year old about being buried in the ground is traumatic and not exactly grounds for mom of the year, if you know what I mean.

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To flip this story on its head, my sweet child is also very curious about babies and where they come from. My sister is pregnant right now, as are many of my friends.

She understands that they are having babies, just like I had her little brother, but she is still not sure how the babies got into their stomachs, and honestly, I don’t know the right way to explain it to her.

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Opening a can of worms about love and sex with a child that calls her vagina a “front butt,” is a tough one for me.

That being said, if I left it up to her own imagination, she would tell you that these pregnant women swallowed a rock, that had a baby seed on it, and now they are growing babies in their stomachs and will poop them out “very soon.” No joke, she once told me that is how it happens.

And, if babies aren’t complicated enough, what about all of mankind?

Courtesy of Jenna Stewart

As I wrangled my daughter into her jacket at daycare the other day, she asked me a very simple question, “Where do we come from?”

At first, I thought she was asking where I came from, so I responded as such, “work, love.”

Her: “No, where did we all come from?”

Me: “You mean all of us?”

Her: “Yes, where do people come from?”

Dear lord child, I am trying to gather your blankets and lunch box and you want to talk about evolution? I can’t!

Courtesy of Jenna Stewart

The truth is, I would rather her continue asking me “why” 498 times a day, than have to brave the big stuff right now. Selfishly, I want her to be little for just a bit longer.

The big stuff will still be here in a few years. For now, I’d like to focus on playing outside until dark, having popsicles on the porch, and bedtime stories and snuggles.

With that being said, if you think you have mastered the answers, please help a momma out!

For more from Jenna Stewart, visit Motherhood with a Twist of OCD and her Facebook page.