Questions My Kids Have Asked That I Have No Idea How to Answer
Mom is driving with the two boys in the back seat. It is October, and they pass through a neighborhood that is heavily decorated for Halloween.
Six-year-old: What does â€œhauntedâ€ mean?
Mom: Oh. Wow. Itâ€™s like, when someone is dead, but they sort of come back to life without their body. Theyâ€™re a spirit, or a ghost, and they hang out and sometimes scare people. And if they do that in a certain place, youâ€™d say itâ€™s haunted. But really theyâ€™re dead.
Three-year-old: Pete Seeger is dead.
Mom: (glance in rearview mirror to see sad face) Yes, he is, sweetie. He was very old, though. He had a good life.
Six-year-old: But how could you be somewhere without your body? That doesnâ€™t make any sense.
Mom: Right. Well, itâ€™s just a story. I mean, some people think itâ€™s real, but I donâ€™t. I mean, I donâ€™t like to think about it very much. Itâ€™s kind of just too much to think about. You know what I mean?
Six-year-old: Not really.
Three-year-old: Pete Seeger will haunt us.
Mom: No, no, bud. I really donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the kind of thing Pete Seeger would do.
Six-year-old: How do you know?
Mom: I guess I donâ€™t. Â He just seemed like a good and happy man. (Wonders how much she really knows about Pete Seeger. Maybe he went to the grave still upset that Bob Dylan went electric and still has a score to settle. Decides not to raise this issue with young sons.)
Six-year-old: And ghosts are bad?
Mom: Well, or they have some kind of unfinished business.
Three-year-old: (singing) Sheâ€™ll be cominâ€™ round the mountain when she comesâ€¦
Mom: Donâ€™t worry about it. Anyway, itâ€™s sort of like they have their brains, but not their bodies.
Three-year-old: But how will we cut off their heads?
Mom: We wonâ€™t! Their bodies are buried and their heads are still on.
Three-year-old: But how will we dig up the bodies?
Mom: WE WILL NOT DIG UP THE BODIES! (whips head around. 3-year-oldâ€™s lip is quivering.)
Six-year-old: Can you see them?
Mom: Well, yes, sometimes, but you can kind of see through them.
Six-year-old: Can you stick your hand through them?
Mom: I think so.
Six-year-old: So itâ€™s basically like a hologram?
Mom: Yes! So much like a hologram. Thatâ€™s a great way of thinking about it. What a good connection you made.
Six-year-old: It means exactly the same thing?
Mom: (slumps, disappointed) No. I think a hologram is made by a machine. And I just donâ€™t know what makes a spirit. Or a ghost. Iâ€™m pretty sure itâ€™s not real, though. Itâ€™s definitely not real.