We were driving back from Chuck E. Cheese when Mikko piped up from the back seat — again. As I've mentioned before, he loves to chatter, so he'd spent the drive regaling me with "Remember when…?" exclusively from Spongebob episodes. I figured this would be another Squarepantsian reminiscence and, after a long day and then a frenetic arcade experience, was nearly prepared to tune him out or shut him off.
But this time, he said, "Mama, who decided that numbers just keep going on and on?"
I said, "I have no idea who it was. It's just — whatever the biggest number you can think of, you can always add one to it, and then it's bigger."
"What about a gabillion? That's the biggest number there is."
"What about a gabillion and one?"
"No, Mama, gabillion is as big as it gets."
"You like things to be finite," I said.
"What does that mean?"
"You like things to have an end, to be contained. … You know, some people think that the universe is infinite, that we're whirling through a space that has no outside, that just keeps going into infinity."
"It's going on and on."
"I don't like that," he said.
As established, I thought.
"I don't get what the big deal is about the end of the world," he then said, and I realized belatedly he mistook my musings on the universe's size with thoughts of the universe's timeline. "I mean, people will be gone, but there'll still be buildings and cars."
I wasn't sure how reassuring this was, or where he was going with it.
"And we'll just all be in heaven," he continued.
Interesting. This is not a teaching we've instilled in him, so how did he decide on this theology?
"We'll die, but just for a second, and then we'll all be in heaven, and we'll see everyone we know. And maybe buildings and cars will come, too. So it's no big deal."
There you have it: A 6-year-old's refusal to fear the end of the world, and his preferences for a finite universe. Since we were pulling in to our parking spot, I chose to leave it at that and not debate him with my own views of death. But, more than the circumstances of arriving at home, I preferred to leave him with his certain, comforting views — they beat mine, for sure.
And I have to say, I'm impressed with the spirit of his convictions that allows him to hold his own views in opposition to, or at least lack of encouragement from, both his parents. Despite my own mental meandering about an infinite and sometimes frightening universe, Mikko has found his resting place and feels secure.
What do your kids believe about life and universe and the other big questions? Do they ever believe things other than your leanings?