I'm a realist. Seriously. So much so that you might just wanna go ahead and call me a fuddy-dud. I am completely honest with my girls, perhaps to a fault, about all aspects of life. Sex?
Anything they have asked, I have answered. Santa? They know he's a made-up character like Charlie Brown and they also know about the real man, the inspiration behind Santa: Saint Nicholas. I gently correct incorrect assumptions and openly answer all questions to the best of my ability, and/or look up the answers to all the innumerable questions I cannot answer. Even, the questions that most people think I'm wasting my time answering, I answer with the fullest explanation I can. As an example, I provide a sample conversation between my me and my big girl when she was about two:
"What is that tall pole?"
"A radio tower."
"What does it do?"
"It sends and receives radio signals..." and I go on to explain what radio signals are, how satellites in space communicate with the radio tower and how that all works with the radio in our cars.
I think it was my sister who was with me at the time, though I'm not sure now, but whoever it was gave me a look like, "Really? You really think she gets all that?"
No. No, I don't think my girls understand all the truth I tell them, but here's what I believe in the core of my being:
Keep speaking the truth. Some of it sinks in now and some of it will sink in later. It may take 5, 50, or 500 times of explaining it, but start early and they'll absorb it earlier because they've been exposed to it sooner. And that goes for all matters in life.
But today. Today, I smiled and bit my lip when my baby girl said something that could have used a little gentle correction. Today, I was asked a question I couldn't answer, and when I replied, "I don't know," baby girl said, "Daddy will know. He knows all about those things." I don't remember what the question was, but I assure you Daddy didn't know. I clearly remember thinking that was a question that could not be easily answered by anyone. Yet, I only smiled at the complete confidence baby girl has in her daddy and even said, fully aware that I was encouraging a belief that wasn't solid, "He really does know a lot about a lot of things."
And only a little while later, I was asked another question: "Why do we call them (flying bugs) gnats?" Again, I said, "I don't know," and added, "I don't know why things were given the names they have." And again she said, "Daddy will know. He knows about everything."
I love this confidence she has in her daddy. And I just can't bring myself to tell her that, though he is pretty amazing, Daddy isn't quite as brilliant as she believes he is. But what I love most about her steadfast belief in her daddy is the example it sets for all of us. When we have a question, we should be so confident that "our daddy knows everything."
But she had another lesson to teach me.
When baby girl asked me the gnat question, we were standing in a field and Daddy was standing about ten feet away looking at a horse, but did she ask him her question? No. It was enough that she knew that he knew the answer. She didn't even really want an answer after she assured herself that he knew the answer. That was enough.
We have questions. Boy, do we have questions! Why is there disease and pain and death? Why is there slavery? Why do children die? Why do relationships fail? Why can't we get pregnant? Why did we lose our job? Why do we keep on making the same bad choices when we so desperately want to do right? Why did our lives turn out this way? Why? Why? Why?
Perhaps we should have baby girl's confidence: Daddy knows. And, even better, perhaps we should be comfortable with not knowing the answer simply because He does.