The unabated innocence of youth raises questions we simply can’t answer

As parents we are expected to know a lot of ‘stuff’.

We must know the exact time at any given point, on any given day.

We must know why the neighbour’s cat is orange.

We must know what sausages are made of. (Though my advice on this one is to never tell the truth) 

I was watching the ABC morning show this morning, when Michael introduced Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, an astrophysicist, and the author of a book called When Galaxies Collide.

Stay with me here.

The book peers 5.86 billion years into the future and looks at how our galaxy is everchanging …. etc etc. The reality is it was never going to impact me so I kind of tuned out at this point.

No disrespect intended, but if I’m not required to book it in between karate lessons and swim school this afternoon, I don’t need to put it in my diary with a five minute reminder to shock me out of whatever tunnel vision I have at that time of day.

If it’s going to happen, it’s not going to happen to me. I get that, you get that, but when you’re seven years old it’s much harder to comprehend the passing of time.

Four hours waiting for your best friend to turn up for a sleepover seems like an eternity. And if you are hungry waiting for dinner, it’s like Mum is the devil incarnate trying to starve you to death.

So we’re watching the interview, discussing how galaxies will collide and Miss Seven turns to me with her big brown eyes and asks: “Will we have to hold on?”

I couldn’t laugh – it was a genuine question from an inquiring mind.

All I could do was answer her honestly.

“We won’t have to worry about it” I told her. “We won’t be around.”

Though not content with that answer Miss Seven had already moved on.

“Will the people who will be around have to hold on?” she said.

If there’s anyone at the CSIRO who could answer that one on my behalf please get in touch. Because I don’t know!

Fiona Ferguson is a Fairfax Media journalist.

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