Lying to Grandchildren

My two-year-old granddaughter sees the world differently from most adults—the commonplace is extraordinary to her. Every tree, bush and rock, every ant, dog and butterfly are objects of fascination; every ball, stick, and swing immerse her in play. Being in her presence I find, that I too pause to find the ordinary … extraordinary.

But there is a darker side to being with her. I sometimes tell her about my mother or my father, and soon she will ask “where are they?” I could give a comforting answer, but I must tell her the truth—they are gone and will never come back. And when she asks, “what of you and grandma? Then I will have to tell her that we too will someday go and never come back. And the same with her mom and dad. And the same with her.

I now see why parents deceive both themselves and their children—to protect them all from this sinister truth. But we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or lie to our children. We should tell them the horrible truth, face it courageously, and then do our best to change it. We should make death and suffering optional, which science and technology may well do in the very near future.  And then we won’t have to lie to our children anymore.

Children help us to see both what the world is … and what it could be. And for that, thanks little one. Oh, and here’s a song for you, my little granddaughter. I remember when I was young enough I thought this song was about me, and then it became a song for my children, and now its a song for you …

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