I love this part of parenthood

Leta: Mom, are you afraid of anything?

Me, carefully weighing my response: I’m terrified of heights. I get really scared when I look out the window in a tall building.

Leta: You mean like, cliffs and mountains?

Me: Yes, exactly.

Leta: What about when you were a little girl?

Me: When I was your age I was terrified of tornados because I lived in a part of the country where tornados are a regular occurrence. And I slept in the bathtub with my stuffed animals.

Leta: Can they happen here? Because I’m REALLY REALLY scared of tornados.

Me: No, they don’t happen here. I mean, I think it happened once, but that was a total freaky accident of nature. You don’t have to worry about tornados.

Leta: But why don’t they happen here?

Me: Because the weather here isn’t the kind of weather that produces tornados. In the South and the Midwest, sometimes there are huge pockets of cold air that meet huge pockets of warm air, and that’s when things get scary.

Leta: But my friend told me that a tornado is going to hit Salt Lake City in October.

Me: What?!

Leta: Yeah, she said she heard it from another girl who really knows about these things.

Me: Leta, I promise you that those girls have no idea what they are talking about.

Leta: Why? Why would they LIE to me?

Me: Because you can’t predict things like tornados. You really can’t even say for certain what any weather is going to be like in the future.

Leta: But the guy on the news talks about the weather all the time. WHY IS THE GUY ON THE NEWS LYING? Adults don’t lie!

Me: Ahem… the guy on the news is making a really good guess. He’s not lying, he’s just saying, hey, we think this is what it’s going to look like tomorrow. Because he has studied what has happened in the past, and he looks for patterns. Also… adults sometimes lie. They shouldn’t, but sometimes they do.


Me: You’re right. Lying is wrong. But people are flawed. Humans are fundamentally flawed, and I can’t believe I’m having a philosophical conversation with my seven-year-old.

Leta: Mom, is our nation healthy?

Me: Do what?

Leta: Will our nation be okay?

Me: Yes. Our nation will be okay. Everything is going to be fine. I think you need to forget about all this for right now and go play. Go be a kid. Let me worry about it for you.