Where did the Planets come from?
Where did People come from?
Does it hurt when a baby comes out of your tummy?
Can we get a new sister? Because mine died.
How do people NOT have babies?
How many days was Maddy when she died?
What would happen if everyone just lived one day?
If you had a baby would you still love me as much?
There's something so deeply philosophical about Bella lately -- when she's not in a droning whine "Moommmmy, I'mmm hunnggry" -- that I ache to give her Carl Sagan and Hobbes and Locke and Shakespeare for her birthday, not the goldfish which she has adamantly requested. Questions that aren't posited just to be annoying or waste time or find the weak spot, but that demand answers more than a sentence long.
Most of them.
And I struggle to discover from whence these questions are coming: I am not pregnant, I am -- to my untrained and biased and eternally hopeful eye -- perhaps even slightly lighter around the middle, not the other way around. None of her friends have recently acquired siblings (although the sibling question came on a day when she went out with a good friend and her younger brother. I have a feeling friend is feeling some things through, out loud). We have not been watching old Cosmos reruns, or discussing Darwin at the dinner table. I am sure that all to most of these are standard-issue four-going-on-five philosophical "how does the world work" questions, but for me they seem to revolve around common themes lately: life, death, the meaning of the beginning, and the end. And of course, what comes next. There's always the corner, beckoning, and to which I can only shrug my shoulders and say with absolute certainty, "I don't know."
For me there's a subtext here, and it's Maddy. I have no idea what Bella's subtext is. Probably Spongebob.
At times she seems 63, and others, 13. Because you see, the other annoying habit she's picked up in addition to questioning the age and origin of the solar system, is announcing to everyone within earshot, "I have a boyfriend."
(No, I mean that. Today we went to the zoo, just the two of us, and she wanted to ride the camel. Which she had to do with another single child. So I finally got her up to the front of the line, left her there so I could run around and get her picture, and I heard her announce to the complete stranger camel guy who took her ticket nanoseconds ago, "I have a boyfriend.")
And again, I have no idea from whence this concept sprouted. I've been paying more attention to her programming (she watches an hour, but I always go do something else, so I honestly don't know if Olivia has "very special!" episodes, or Spongebob's sidekick Patrick has untoward affairs), and as far as I can tell she is not getting this attitude from television -- no one on her shows even dates (unless it's an older sibling, I've noticed in an ep of this and that, here and there, but interesting, they never use the term "boy/girl-friend", usually it's a "date" gone awry for comic purposes), and they tend to be mixed sex groups of friends who hang and which I find quite healthy all the way around. (Unless I'm missing something regarding Agent Oso, cuz that's new, and I'm sure a panda-type bear in a vest gets all sorts of attention from the ladies.) (I jest.)
I cringe. She's not yet five, and she's so proud to have this, to own this term. I've quizzed her nonchalantly on the issue, and she claims "he's a boy who's a friend!" and more to the point, the only boy at her school apparently who will actually play with her, and not push, hit, or otherwise tease and torment and knock down her stack of carefully placed blocks. And I remind myself that no more than two months ago, she was discussing marriage with her "girlfriend," and specifically, who would have the babies. So I'm trying not to get too (too) worked up, and I kinda ignore it and let it ride, and remind her periodically that "you know, you're too young for a boyfriend," but it doesn't seem to be dying down.
My suspicion is that this verbage and interest comes from the friend of ours who just got married after a whirlwind romance. I'm hoping it all dissipates with the rose petals.
We're pushing five here, and I do mean pushing. She seems so confident and content most of the time, and yet sometimes I can just sense her surfing, trying to catch her balance as the paradigms move under her feet. Sometimes she is so easy and fun I wonder why I haven't attempted to construct a sibling; sometimes she is so unsettling I can't imagine having the strength to parent another; and sometimes she is so singularly incredible that I struggle to remember why I ever wanted another child in the first place.