In Search of Answers

Right now Jamie’s biggest concerns are what he is going to eat for dinner and alerting his parents before bowel movements. After all, he’s 2.

The food he wanted 30 seconds ago may no longer be a suitable choice for his refined palate. Mustering up the volume and tears is the best way for him to convey the urgency when it comes to telling his parents about the need to pee.

But things are changing. The continuous influx of “Why?” assures us of that. The phase of parenting that is solely about sustaining life is over. It’s about building up interests and explaining the world. People, books and cartoons shape his world. It’s about fostering a natural sense of curiosity at a young age.

Today, the questions aren’t so complicated. But the world will continue to be a more complicated place by the time he wants to know about it. On a good day, I wonder how to explain that the local baseball team hasn’t won a World Series in 100 years, and just how long of time that is. I wonder how to explain that people can make religious judgments based on the decoration of a coffee cup. I wonder how to explain why hot dogs and hot dog buns aren’t sold in equal amounts. These things confound me.

But the bad days…they are so much more than I could ever imagine. I know I will probably spout off about walking to school uphill both ways through the snow with no shoes. It’s the parenting right of passage. But I don’t really believe that I had it tougher anymore.

I’m 35 years old, and thought of terrorism only in the abstract until 9/11 (I was 21.). There were people who wanted to see Westerners dead before then, but the danger remained far away and illusive. I felt reassurance as a child that no war has been fought on U.S. soil since the Civil War. While that still remains the case, it’s apparent we are no longer immune to the world’s threats.

I don’t know how to explain the thousands of senseless deaths in the historical event that defines the world for my generation, and I definitely don’t know how to explain the needless violence in Paris yesterday.

I don’t know how to explain that more people have died for religion throughout the course of history than any other cause, and yet Jesus taught us to love. How do you explain what doesn’t make sense?

And that walk to school…How do I explain there is evil out there bent on taking the most innocent of lives? This too is a concept I have only had to think about in the abstract, but will remain a more realistic threat for my son.

Now the unexplainable and unfathomable have become a dark reality. At some point my son will want answers. Is “I don’t know” an acceptable response? It’s the only one I’ve got. That and to try to laugh more and smile more. Some days it’s the only way to stay sane.

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