Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The triflings of childhood

This afternoon Ben asked me why the school was building a new library. He pointed out to me that there was already an interactive whiteboard in the existing library, so if they build a new one, they'll have to buy a new whiteboard (which is correct) and that they are spending a lot of money on something they really don't need (certainly an arguable position, at least).

In defense of the school, I explained that they weren't spending money that would otherwise go on other school resources, that rather, the Australian government had given all the schools in Australia money to build something.

"Why did the government give all the schools all that money?"

I tried to fob him off with "it's complicated" and failed. As a result I found myself explaining the GFC to a seven year old. Complete with sub-prime mortgages, but only alluding to default bonds and other baseless derivatives. I also covered why I think the stimulus package was the right thing to do. He claims to have understood, and he certainly asked enough questions to suggest he has some grasp of it all.

And so I sighed a great sigh of relief, only to have him ask me to read him the questions and answers from his Really Really Big Questions book. What's the first question in the book? "Where did everything come from?" So we did the Big Bang, the origin of time and (added in by Ben) whether or not God did it. I explained that all the evidence suggests the Big Bang happened in some shape or form, and that if he chose to believe God was the Big Pyrotechnician, that was up to him, but he didn't get to deny evidence. We also discussed the non-existence of "before" the Big Bang and other elements of Cosmology.

Then he asked about galaxies and what I'd done when I was an astronomer, and I drew a line in the sand and said "Some Other Time".

I'm buggered.

Oh, and Charlie wants to be an astronomer when he grows up and Elissa likes Mumford & Sons.


  1. You have provided much amusement to myself, Adam, David and my Dad - to whom I just read this out loud :-)

  2. I always feel so wrong when I say to the girls, "Enough! Enough!" Sometimes I just can't manage any more questions.

    My partner tells the girls a bed time story about the creation of the world that begins with the big bang.

  3. Deborah, it was bed time, so I had an excuse. :)

    That's a pretty cool bed time story. I realised that I have never really discussed the universe with them before, which is odd considering how long I was obsessed with it myself.

  4. You were an astronomer?? You're just a bundle of surprises you are!

  5. You should ask her about Physics parties. Them were the good old days!

  6. Ahhh, physics parties. Booze & bangers, dry ice and Nutrigrain. And the occasional fire engine.

    Them were the days indeed. :)

    @Chally - I was only an apprentice astronomer, I never finished my PhD. I've been avoiding PhDs ever since.