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  • jdettmann

Ignorance Is Bliss


Apocalypse now, or have we time for another coffee before the end of days?

‘Why do I still have to go to kindy?’ May Blossom moaned  to me yesterday. ‘I already know so much stuff.’

‘You don’t know everything,’ I told her. ‘There’s still lots for you to learn, and that’s why you get to go to school next year.’

‘I know enough. I know redback spiders are poisonous.’

She might be right. That might be enough. After a weekend of bombing and shooting and earthquakes and their attendant horrors, I wish all I knew was that redback spiders are poisonous.

I sent her off to pre-school this morning anyway, because she still has to face the world, even if I’m terrified of what she’ll hear and learn out there. H and I have sheltered our kids pretty comprehensively from the news their whole lives, but we can’t stop them from going to school with kids with older siblings, or kids whose parents let them see the newspapers and the TV reports of what’s going on in the world. There’s a pretty good chance that she is going to come home today knowing something of the devastation that occurred in Paris and Beirut in the last few days.

If she does, I have no plan for how we will deal with it. I suspect it will involve small people sleeping in our bed.

We’re not religious, so we won’t be telling her that any of this – not to mention what’s always going on in Syria, Iraq, Nauru and, oh, I don’t now, everywhere else – is part of God’s plan. She’s quite shockingly ignorant of religion at this stage, despite having just been through a brief phase of insisting on going downstairs at bedtime to ‘take her prayers’.

H and I were a bit tickled by that. We let her do it, and the first time he snuck down to spy on her. She was kneeling in front of the fireplace in the dining room, whispering. He thinks she had her clasped hands together, but then she busted him and he had to run back up very quickly. She did it for a few nights, before confessing that she didn’t really know what it meant or what she was supposed to be whispering about. We explained that people who believe in a god often like to talk to that god.

She hasn’t done it since. I didn’t mind it, really. Though I am an atheist, I think there’s a lot to be said for articulating your worries, and whether you’re muttering them to the hearth or unloading them on your friends or typing them on your blog, it’s all basically the same thing.

And my girl is a little worrier (clearly gets it from her father), so it’s important she finds ways to talk about her worries to us. When she does, I hope that I can look her in the eye and convince her that the awful things that seem to be happening in the world more and more are still not the norm; that we are still reasonably safe. Well, as safe as we can be while living surrounded by the dangers of electrical outlets, toasters, cars, swimming pools and falling tree limbs in storms and lightning and whooping cough and choking on grapes and oh my god we are all going to die.

Maybe that’s not very reassuring, listing all the things that are more likely to kill us than terrorists. Maybe I’ll just cuddle her and rub her back and we can both have a quiet whisper into the fireplace tonight.

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