Questions My Kids Have Asked That I Have No Idea How to Answer

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Scene Three

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 “haunted” mean?

Mom: Oh. Wow. It’s like, when someone is dead, but they sort of come back to life without their body. They’re a spirit, or a ghost, and they hang out and sometimes scare people. And if they do that in a certain place, you’d say it’s haunted. But really they’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 doesn’t make any sense.

Mom: Right. Well, it’s just a story. I mean, some people think it’s real, but I don’t. I mean, I don’t like to think about it very much. It’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 don’t think that’s the kind of thing Pete Seeger would do.

Six-year-old: How do you know?

Mom: I guess I don’t.  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.

Six-year-old: What?

Three-year-old: (singing) She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes…

Mom: Don’t worry about it. Anyway, it’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 won’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-old’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 it’s basically like a hologram?

Mom: Yes! So much like a hologram. That’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 don’t know what makes a spirit. Or a ghost. I’m pretty sure it’s not real, though. It’s definitely not real.



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