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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Do pandas go to heaven?


Boris is concerned about dying. He was watching television with grandma last time we were in Lazarevac and he saw a scene from a war movie in which the Germans shot dead a whole bunch of school kids (based on a true WWII event in Kragujevac). I didn't even know that he saw something like that (I wasn't at home) and he never mentioned it at the time. But the other day he started sobbing incontrollably, saying "I don't want to die" and it became clear that he remembered that movie scene and that it had frightened him.

I tried to reassure him by saying that he is just a little boy, he will grow to be an old man and then die, as we all will, but that didn't help one bit--he kept crying. I had a frantic mental search for a better explanation when he asked, through tears:

"When I die, how long am I going to lie on the floor? Is it going to be very long?"

"No, when you die, you will go to heaven."

"What is heaven?"

"That is where your grandpa is. We go to heaven when we die" (she says, biting her agnostic lips)

That seemed to have done the trick, but only for a minute before another round of whining.

"But how am I going to get to heaven? I can't fly!"

Here I had to introduce the concept of the soul, praying that he wouldn't press further, but he seemed somewhat relieved that the flying issue has been resolved in such a simple way. I also had to reassure him that he would not hit his head against the clouds on the way up because clouds are soft.

He wasn't entirely convinced about any of that, though. Clearly, something else was bothering him and, sure enough, another round of sobs starts.

"But I don't want to die! I will miss my panda... Panda can't come with me to heaven...I don't want to die..."

Just imagine that prospect: an entire eternity without your faithful panda by your side. It is just too much for a boy to bear.

There was only one way to alleviate this angst--I promised him that panda, too, will join him in heaven. He was still a bit suspicious about the logistics of it, but then he finally smiled and you could see how deeply relieved he was. I was, too, and the more I think about it, the more I see it from his point of view: what kind of heaven is that if it doesn't have pandas in it?

6 comments:

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I find it very cute how Boris was trying to figure out the logistical problems of going to heaven. Still death is something we all must deal with at some point.

Jelica said...

I was also very pleased with his logic--I think it is never too early to start asking probing questions and don't accept anything at face value (which, of course, goes against the grain of every religious belief).

Alessandra said...

Uhm... I already thought about this type of questions Zolika will ask me... what can an atheist mother answer? I bet I will tell the story of heaven as well! :)

Jelica said...

It was hard for me, too, to say something that I don't quite believe in (I would like to believe in heaven and after-life but it just doesn't seem probable). But then I think it is good to have some faith at the tender age of five :)

Ruslan said...

Yes, I was a witness to his questions. It's kind of my fault as I was there when he watched the film but I didn't quite know what was following. What is more he had never really watched a film so I didn't suspect he was paying attention. It's a tough thing for him. I kind of remember this in my life but my worries were not related to me but to my parents. I felt total incomprehension at the thought of it.

Jo said...

Oh, goodness, I remember having the exact same conversation with my father when I was a little girl. It's sad that children have to be exposed to the realities of life at such an early age. I remember my father reciting a little poem to me...

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...
All good children go to Heaven."


I wasn't convinced, however, because I knew I wasn't good all the time. :-)