And this is why you are an enemy of The True.
Heh. What I end up doing, mostly, is telling a coherent and convincing story, and then explaining which minor parts of it I'm sure of and which bits I made up based on what seemed likely. I just can't make myself skip the coherent story.
OT: Happy Bunker Hill Day everyone! It make sme wish that I worked for the government of Suffolk County (=city of Boston), since I would have the day off.
True fact: the Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place on Breed's Hill.
Parents, don't do this. Similar behavior caused a great deal of confusion for me as a child, on the lines of "why would my parents, who are sticklers for truth-telling, make stuff up? Yet how can this other authoritative source be wrong?".
Of course, my parents set a very high premium, so to speak, on self-deprecation and if anything underestimating your own powers, so it was very hard for me to believe that they would intentionally pretend to know something that they did not.
Is the phrase "I'm pretty sure" a get out of jail free card? I'm generally reluctant to acknowledge flat-out ignorance on my part, but I (usually) hedge if I'm not sure about something.
7 is more or less my approach. I generally *do* know something about most things so would be reluctant to plead ignorance, but I won't flat out state something as fact if I don't know with some degree of certainty that what I am about to say is true.
I wouldn't flat out lie or bullshit like the Dads in the linked article. Who ought to be taken into a wee room by the museum police and given a stern lecture.
COunterpoint: parents, do this. If you don't teach your children how to plausibly bullshit their way out of trouble, who will? The public school system? I don't think so.
The world is a tough place and my little boy will be prepared. I lie to him all the time, never punish him for lying himself and tell him a bedtime story every night about a little boy called Napoleon Buonaparte who was the smallest in his class, but who grew up to be the Emperor of the World.
I can't wait untill little dcubed grows up and we find him dispersing the mobs of London with a whiff of grapeshot.
I'm willing to be a priggish outlier here: I'm pretty sure I didn't do this. I speculated, guessed and said I was guessing, said things like "I think I remember," and may have been honestly mistaken. But not this plausible bullshitting, which leaves me cold although it's apparently damn near universal.
That's where little boys like that come from! Dsquared is the new enemy of the true.
The thing is, knitting together what you know into a plausible story is a real, valuable skill. Usually, when I'm making stuff up in this sort of situation, I'm right about a much larger percentage of the story than I'm sure of. But I do go back and undercut the parts that aren't based on anything much.
I get the art of plausible bullshitting. But dads int he article, you're in a goddamn museum, and the cool thing about museums is that they contain cool shit and people who know about the cool shit. How hard is it to say, "I don't know, let's find out!" when the answer is in front of you on a little brass plaque?
Should have previewed; I'm not the outlier I was expecting to be from the article.
Having just recently left the field of museum education and visitor research, I can definitely speak to this phenomenon. I was working in a lab videotaping folks using exhibits, and they were totally willing to say the most outrageous things on camera (without any prodding from me), knowing full well that museum staff were going to analyze the videos, share them with the museum community, etc. Evidently looking like an idiot in front of your kids is more embarrassing than looking like an idiot in front of a bunch of researchers.
If you come off as a little crazy and/or always with a touch of irony, you can do this throughout life. The key is to not mind being corrected every once in a while.
Are there people who try to be accurate about shit? To me that's a very foreign concept. Do they expect others to be accurate too? That would seem excessively judgmental and harsh.
The funny thing is this isn't always true. Many museums are trying to be less didactic and foster for a "more genuine" learning experience, in which your curiosity leads to an attempt to answer your own question. The pro here is that that sort of learning probably is more genuine than the museum-as-repository-of-true-facts model (though don't get me wrong! I love museums as repositories of true facts as much as the next nerd. Weird things in glass cases are awesome.). The con is that the answers you come to are not necessarily right and there isn't always a way to check. This is also not to say that the (mostly) dad's weird answers to kids' questions are motivated by this style of learning. It's just sayin'.
I'm looking forward to having a phone with a web browser, just as my kids are entering the "Why, Daddy, why?" stage; I'd rather teach them good research skills than lie. To be honest, this owes less to any slavish devotion to the Truth than to a lifelong nagging suspicion that I'm about to be unmasked as a total fraud at any given moment.
I understand the desire to sound knowledgeable and that bullshitting is a valuable skill but I have an instinctual distrust of anyone who's not capable of responding to Query X with a simple, "Beats the shit out of me!"
But why does it beat the shit out of you, Daddy?
20: I would really, really like it if people were able to make a distinction between "gathering relevant information and making a guess while bearing in mind your own limitations" and "looking at something and making stuff up". I think it's foolish for people to believe that they can take a gander at a stuffed rhinocerous or whatever and--with no other information to speak of--make big statements about animals, environment, etc.
I really distrust this whole "follow your curiousity" approach unless it's accompanied by some sense of how to construct an argument, what kind of information to look for, etc. I'd rather have rigid "museums as repositories of Truth" than "museums as the place where you go to look at one detail and spout whatever comes into your head".
15+21 reminds me that I actually do often say "We'll check when we get home," meaning On the Internet.
Thinking about this, I realize that my daughter is growing up with an understanding of computers and the world that is really alien to me. I mean, I always thought that these kids with their IMing had a different relationship to computers from mine, but for a child whose earliest expectations are set by Google searches?
I might add that she still asks to see videos that I found on YouTube that have since been wiped by IP lawyers (near as I can tell, Bugs Bunny isn't on free TV anymore, so that's the only way she's ever seen it). So, yeah, video-on-demand.
24: Jesus wanted the rhinoceros to have a horn on its nose.
Is this so hard, people?
That's strange. I tell my kids "I don't know" all the time. Hell, sometimes I say it when I do know and just don't want to take the time to explain something.
I'm a lot more comfortable with the IDP/RMcMP model, I have to say.
This idea of parent-as-all-knowing-figure-who-cannot-be-unmasked is, well, highly problematic. To say the least.
I hope I manage to be able to say "I don't know", but who the hell knows once I have kids. Probably will be a lot of "I think..." and "Shivbunny Jr., don't climb the dinosaurs!"
when the answer is in front of you on a little brass plaque
28: Yeah, when parents can never admit that they don't know everything, don't their kids just grow up with an unbearable pressure to know everything or feel woefully inadequate.
My kid hears an awful lot of "I don't know -- we'll google it when we get home" from me.
My dad used to lie to us, steal our money, break promises etc, to get us prepared for the big bad world. He also told us (and now tells my kids) crazy stuff the whole time, but we all knew that *. But he wouldn't bullshit about facts. If asked what the "dark discs" were, he'd peer and think, and probably come up with a good suggestion. I did kind of grow up thinking my daddy knew everything.
My kids have a more fallible view of me. I'll do the thinking on my feet bit, try to work out an answer, offer to Google it later, but I'd never just spout bollocks. And I don't lie to them in general either, though I'm rubbish about doing stuff I've said I would.
* - I was talking to my #2 daughter, she was probably 7, and told her some blatantly made-up story about something, expecting a grin if not a laugh. She looked at me pityingly, and asked "Did Gaffer tell you that?" (Gaffer = my dad.)
I tell my kids "i don't know" too, but what a bore. I wish I could at least entertain them with creative big fat lies, and then later they could get a Mary Karr-style memoir out of it.
But when I say it, the 'I' is uppercase, because I want them to know proper usage.
She looked at me pityingly, and asked "Did Gaffer tell you that?" (Gaffer = my dad.)
I have once or twice bit my tongue hard while listening to some parent spoonfeed prattle to his kiddo. Kid! He's not even reading you the wall text! Though really, it's not much more helpful, you know that the X Museum hasn't had a decent communications department since so-and-so resigned. . . .
OK, now I feel a need to defend the know-it-alls (if not the BSers). I think the disadvantages of "unbearable pressure to know everything" is far outweighed by the advantages of learning about stuff everywhere, all the time. I mean, the why questions are sometimes ridiculous and their actual purpose unclear, but kids don't know anything about the world around them - the sooner they get explanations for the basic stuff they encounter, the sooner they can get to more advanced thinking about things.
Furthermore, explaining what a building is, or what a sign says, is a great opportunity to tell a story, which is an invaluable skill that neither Google nor TV teach. My daughter will often offer up (totally cracked) explanations for things she sees, and I can see her trying to apply the framework she's learned from the answers we give her. Although ours are less based on the idea that the world can be broken down into "hes," "shes," and brothers and sisters based on relative size.
The greatest tall tell I ever heard of a father telling was about Susan B. Anthony being a U.S. president, since it's soooo plausible. She's on a coin--concrete evidence. Just as with many presidents, no one can recall a thing about her. Add to that the pure pleasure you get out of chiding your kid for not knowing about our nation's first woman president. Score!
Though really, it's not much more helpful, you know that the X Museum hasn't had a decent communications department since so-and-so resigned. . . .
The Carnegie Museum of Art has a venerable (that is, old-fashioned and slightly mangy) collection of wildlife dioramas, which are fascinating, but woefully under-interpreted. All the money goes into the dino exhibits, and there are a couple of newer parts near the dioramas, but the brass plaques in there are nearly useless. I kept having to say "Oh, no, I was wrong - those aren't the big-horned sheep" because it took me a minute even to find the stupid label. And as for that little animal hopping on the rock? Your guess is as good as mine, kid.
Yeah, my dad used to screw with my brother and me, just like his dad screwed with him. We'd be doing little experiments with our chemistry set in the kitchen, and he'd say, "Oh yeah, to that you should add a little dish soap and it'll turn a really pretty color," which we'd do, and the subsequent explosion would burn a hole in the ceiling. We'd then get in lots of trouble. I'd ask him why he'd lie to us, and his explanation was that is was important for us not to be so credulous, but I think it's obvious that he just liked being a dick.
Are you guys serious? I make up the most outrageous stuff I can and say it in my calmest deadpan. I do it to all my sibs and nephews. They'll figure it out in the long run.
Also, did you see the people at PostSecret chiming in with the stories their Dad's told them?
That's different. Blatant lying for comic effect is fun. I do it to my brother, niece and nephew all the time. Come to think of it, I do it to my wife too when I can get away with it.
Just straight bullshitting with non-comic stories or narratives because you don't know the real answer is not fun, though.
42: I was going to claim that Megan is only tall-taling because they're sibs & nephews, not her own kids, but I was earnestly informative towards my old girlfriend's nieces, too.
There is something that loves a pedant.
My kid (2.8) doesn't believe me when I say I don't know something- he thinks I'm just trying to get out of answering the question. He wants to know the name of every truck he sees, and I don't know some, but he keeps asking until I make up something plausible even though I'm sure it's not the official name. Also, it's not something you can google easily.
Oh. I wouldn't make something up because I didn't know the answer.
46: I get that too. "I don't know, sweeties." "No, you do, Daddy! You do!"
"hes," "shes," and brothers and sisters based on relative size
This, totally. Also objects "like" or "don't like" one another based on their relative positions.
44 is very true. My partner grew up thinking that helicopters worked by magic and that LA stood for Luton Airport. The latter *is* amusing, the former is just annoying.
50: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." So your partner's father was simply a technological primitive. Don't be so judgmental.
38 -- I'm all for offering explanations for the things you are actually capable of explaning. But admitting freely that there are things you don't know is just as good for the kiddos -- especially if it's followed up with, "I don't know, but here are a bunch of ideas for how we can find out." If you (generic you, not you JRoth) can't admit that there are things beyond your ken, the little guys start internalizing the idea that it's not okay to admit when they don't know. When they eventually realize that you make shit up when you don't know, they get the message that not knowing is so shameful that it must be hidden. And that you, the skillfull BS-er are not to be trusted.
God, I *hated* that article. How hard is it to say either "I don't know" or "Well, I think X, but I might be wrong"? And then you teach the kids to *ask a guard* (bonus teaching moment: don't be a classist snob) or *look things up later* or *hypothesize*. Gaaaah.
AWB is the first miscreant I've seen to blame her pranks on her father.
"don't be a classist snob" s/b "always trust a man in uniform".
And yeah, blatant lying for comic effect is awesome. But you have to do it *so* deadpan serious that the kid wonders, just a little bit....
You people make me so sad. Now you're not even allowed to lie to your own kids? I fear for our country.
(Seriously: do you think PK has an internalized perception of a museum guard as being in a different class from his parents? I am pretty sure I did not have that perception at his age and even a good deal older, like 12 -- by which time I was definitely distinguishing between say "teachers" and "janitors" -- I would have seen uniformed museum employees, and police officers, and firemen, as in the "teachers" class.)
58: At this point, probably not. But if I tended to treat employees of an institution who are standing *right there* as if they were invisible, I bet he'd start pretty damn quick.
My dad had me believing in the "Canadian Propeller Strole"---a top-secret swimming technique that was so fast we non-Canadians couldn't even see it---for years and years and years, even enlisting swimming instructors and other Canadians to hold up the illusion.
But I don't think he would have bullshitted a science question.
Oh, that isn't an illusion. You do know that Phelps trains under a Canadian?
Gosh, do you think people at The Washington Post might think it perfectly natural for someone, a dad, a writer, to feel the need to just make stuff up, rather than risk looking stupid?
That should've been Canadian Propeller Stroke, obviously. And Will, next thing you'll be telling me is that there really are Dracu-Owls that lurk above the front doors of people's houses and like to feed off little girls.
No Jackmormon, that one is just an elaborate, disturbing ruse to convince girls to use the back door.
I had always dreamed of telling Calvin's-Dad-esque fantasias to my kids, but I'm just not that kind of father, as it turns out. I do tell her when she's full of baloney, which she has now begun to echo back, more or less appropriately.
Hey, JM, check your email, or email me, or something, please.
Tyto transylvannae, only found in the central and western USA and small pockets in the Carpathians. They don't really feed off little girls, though. They use their high-pitch cries to flush out their real prey. Small garden mammals, pets, etc.
My father never met a question to which he didn't have an answer, even though most of his answers were pure BS. Not just with kids, though--with other adults as well. Regardless I don't think it did me any harm. I developed a decent BS detector relatively early in life, which is useful.
There are no Dracu-Owls that lurk about front doors. But Mountain Alligators who only eat little girls who don't do the dishes are well established in the Sierra Nevadas.
My parents kept me from getting out of my bed when I was a little kid by telling me that the carpetsharks would bite my feet.
My parents bought two sets of encyclopedias (ae? fuck it) and did a lot of "why don't we look that up" in their responses. My mother was a brilliant student but my father was shit in school to the point that my mother still will not allow anyone to see his report cards, which she somehow got in her possession and has kept all these decades. I ended up with plenty of pressure to know everything and plenty of counter-examples when it was perfectly fine to find the answer in a book rather than make something up. When I was teaching in a summer program many years ago and my oldest nephew was six or seven and going through his dinosaur phase he got it into his head that I was teaching science (I was teaching basic astronomy to rising 7th graders) and thus knew all about dinosaurs. I did a lot of showing him how we look things up in books.
As a vague, self-involved side note I am now given to wonder if this is where I get my prejudicial favoritism towards recognized expertise and my general distrust of amateur forms such as, well, blogs.
70: That's awesome. I assume you've used it on your own kids.
We had encylopedias, some alphabetical and some deliberately not so you had to learn to use the index.
I used to take kid's encylopedia volumes, the kind sold in grocery stores, with lots of illustrations, to bed for reading.
Those of you mentioning "encyclopedia" really ought to define it for the youngsters. Otherwise, they are going to have to look up the word on wikkipedia.
I was privy to a discussion recently where at least one intelligent adult was earnestly arguing against the straight-faced proposition that bedrooms could not be included in for-sale homes. "But I bought my house with bedrooms! I didn't have to buy my bedrooms separately!" I tried to interject something about the importance of not purchasing southern-hemisphere solar panels for one's northern-hemisphere homes, but it was loud and druggy out and I could not edge my words wise.
The best lie I ever told PK was that play-doh was made from little grunties (= kids). And that the reason play-doh was different colors was b/c it depended on the color of shirt the grunty was wearing at the time. I used to threaten to send him to the play-doh factory.
He didn't *really* believe me, but when he figured out at around four? I think? that this was just out-and-out bullshit, he got really mad.
I also half-convinced him that Babies R Us was a store where they sold babies, and if he was too naughty I'd just take him back and ask for a new baby.
You mean because of the clockwise - counterclockwise thing?
72: Brick floors in my house, so the carpetshark gambit would be tricky to pull off successfully.
77 -> 75, specifically the solar panels assertion.
Carpetshark, brick monster, whatever.
Since I write text for those useless little brass plaques (not at the Field or Met or whatever, just at our local science museum), I feel the need to say *something* about all this lying and making shit up going on. But really, it only gets me when it's close but not right in a significant way.
For example, we just redesigned one dinosaur hall because hardly any visitors passed our "pop quiz" (obnoxious, I know) after leaving the hall. We surreptitiously watched and listened to them as well, and every damn body was calling that dinosaur a T. rex. Look, I know it's a big dino with big teeth, but not every-damned-dinosaur is a T.rex. It's on the label, people, just read it. I know "Acrocanthosaurus atokensis" is hard to pronounce. Call it Acro, then, fine. But it's not a T.rex. Say it! Not A T REX.
In most cases, I can't even get really mad about it. It's my job to care about this stuff; y'all aren't being paid to interpret an exhibit, and most people don't really want to know the Truth. A plausible lie is often as interesting than the Truth. An outrageous, really fantastic lie? Much much better than the truth. I'd rather hear someone call it a unicorn than a T. rex.
78: Or so the carpetsharks would have you believe.
81: Are you talking about the atrium with the pteranodons circling overhead, Wrenae? Because I just there with Noah last week. I got him to say Acrocanthosaurus (sort of), but he was much more interested in the "big boo-boo" on the other dinosaur's leg. "That dinosaur bite him. He not sorry."
and most people don't really want to know the Truth
Maybe your plaques should say: "You can't handle the truth."
Apo, did that work? My mother told me that there were monsters under my bed that would eat my feet if I tried to get out of bed at night. They only came out in the dark, so I'd have to wait to get out of bed until morning when it was light out. She told me if I really had to get up for some reason I could try to jump off my bed and land as far away as I could, but she warned that they'd probably still get me before I could make it to my bedroom door so this wasn't a good idea except in emegencies. I think she thought this would keep me in bed, which I guess it did, but what she didn't count on was a lot of screaming for her when I was frightened they were going to get me, not to mention for her to come and turn the light on if god forbid I did need to get up for any reason (go to the bathroom, etc.). She quickly realized I think that this wasn't saving her any effort and told me there weren't *really* monsters under the bed, that she had just made that up, but I didn't really believe her all the way and remained scared for a while. I think overall her plan completely backfired.
79: That would have made the bullshit very plausible, yes.
Apo, did that work?
With me, yes. When they tried it on my younger brother at about the same age, he rolled his eyes at them and replied that sharks only live in the water. Like your parents, they regretted the move when they kept having to get up and carry me into the hall when I had to pee in the middle of the night.
I wish I could say that their gambit resulted in me standing on the bed and peeing on the carpet, but alas, that would be a lie.
"I wish I could say that their gambit resulted in me standing on the bed and peeing on the carpet, but alas, that would be a lie."
You do understand that you have to tell your children that story as if it were true?
he rolled his eyes at them and replied that sharks only live in the water
Your younger brother is the real hero, isn't he?
Apo drew a little line down the middle of Alston Ave. ten years ago and told his little brother not to cross it.
On the topic of rationalizing away parental myths, when I was five or six I explained to my family that I knew Santa couldn't be real because the economics of it didn't make any sense.
My wife, an only child, didn't understand the concept of lines between siblings - nor between lovers sharing a platter of sushi.
You took my maguro!
It was on my side.
What do you mean, side?
How she reached 30 without anyone explaining this to her, I don't know.
I knew Santa couldn't be real
I tried replacing Santa with an even more confusing myth, but Keegan inherited my sense of humor and saw right through it.
Are you talking about the atrium with the pteranodons circling overhead, Wrenae? Because I just there with Noah last week. I got him to say Acrocanthosaurus (sort of), but he was much more interested in the "big boo-boo" on the other dinosaur's leg. "That dinosaur bite him. He not sorry."
Yes! That's where I work! I want to kiss Noah now, because understanding that the "big boo-boo" was bite inflicted by Acro is central to the exhibit as well. Some people miss it because the Pleuroceolus is a fleshed out model, and the Acro is a skeleton, so they don't always make the predator-prey connection there. It's a recreation of an attack scene based on a trackway found in Texas. No, Noah, he's not sorry! He's a big meanie!
Speaking of tour guides, I've heard parents tell their kids that the Pleurocoelus, a sauropod dinosaur, is an "elephant." They've also thought that the whale skeletons on the 1st and 2nd floors are "prehistoric birds" because they're hanging from the ceiling.
I'm really glad you came to visit! It's oddly exciting to think a (founding?) member of the Unfoggetariat was at my workplace. Next time you come, you should give me a call. I might be able to wrangle a behind-the-scenes tour of some sort. Ask for Wendy in Exhibits.
the whale skeletons on the 1st and 2nd floors are "prehistoric birds"
Fucking gigantic prehistoric birds, those would be. Noah's just gotten old enough to appreciate the museum and he's completely and totally obsessed with dinosaurs, so we'll certainly be back. Is Bugfest returning in the fall? That's my favorite.
Off topic query!
It's actually somewhat more related to the school question above, but the trolling and counter-trolling there seems to be pacing along nicely, so I'm putting it here.
Have any of you academic-type peoples ever heard of "Who's Who Among American Teachers and Educators"? I just got a form from them congratulating me on having been nominated---allegedly by a previous student---and requesting that I send a bunch of information to be included in their book. Since actually ordering one of the books costs a boatload of money, I'm thinking scam.
Scamorama. I don't know that one particularly, but there are similar Who's Whos in every industry, and they're all scams.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I just had one of those moments of weakness--->i>OMG! somebody appreciated how hard I tried!---and needed a back-up backbone.
And Wrenae, your workplace totally fucking rocks.
Is Bugfest returning in the fall? That's my favorite.
Yes, I think it's in August this year. Did you eat some mealworm muffins or scorpion stirfry last time? I ate a freeze-dried cricket the first Bugfest I went to, but I wasn't impressed. Those scratchy legs don't go down easily. Now that they have real chefs making dishes, it's actually quite good eats.
I ate mealworm something or others. I have an irrational aversion to chewing exoskeleton.
your workplace totally fucking rocks
Thank you! I can't claim much credit, but I was working there when they opened the new building in 2000. I helped develop the Prehistoric Hall and the Coastal Hall. Now I do evaluation and rehabilitation, write text for temporary exhibits, stuff like that.
We're working on a new facility called the Nature Research Center (working title) for the next block over where we'll present, supposedly, cutting-edge research and interaction with scientists, working labs, etc. It's supposed to open in 2010, though I expect we'll push that back at least a year before it's done. I'll send you an invite to the grand opening.
I'm going to have a dream tonight wherein Apo and McManly visit my museum and eat skewered spiders or something. This is awesome!
I have a completely rational aversion to eating gross things.
You have a new building? The last time I was there was when the Summerbridge program where I taught took the kids in 1995. So, it's been a while. I should go again.
1995? Dude, seriously, you have to come back. The old place was a renovated office building with stuffed bears in the lobby and a sperm whale skeleton wedged onto the mezzanine. You really, really should see the new building. I'm not kidding, it's 100x better than the old. Now there's a waterfall and lots of dinosaurs and live butterflies in the Conservatory and a restaurant and live rattlesnakes and traveling exhibits... come see it! I won't make you eat any bugs, I promise. Same behind-the-scenes tour I promised Apo, which would mostly consist of offices and design spaces for exhibits (and I'll see if I can con the collections manager into letting us into the geo-paleo collections).
Look here to see some of the current museum's exhibits. Our website hasn't been updated much in the last 7 years, so you can still see "sneak peek" photos of the exhibits in progress.
My daughter believed my transparent bullshit, and repeated it to friends and teachers, to much embarrassment. I wouldn't do it again.
if I told my older daughter that there were monsters under the bed she would have a complete nervous breakdown, for real, and have to go to the baby psych ward. she's a high-strung, phobic person. I feel like she's calmed down a lot in most ways since I quit drinking, but she's still crazy. she has "bad thoughts" at night and can't stop thinking about them, like that someone is walking on a high wire and it gets cut, or that her little sister is falling off a high place. I've been teaching her relaxation techniques like picturing herself at the beach and trying to vividly remember the sensory experience: what she hears, the salty smell, etc. like mother, like daughter; whaddya gonna do?
98: Pre-internet, Who's Who used to be a sometimes useful place to start finding out about someone. "Twas handy for providing conversation starters during recruiting and such. Now most of that info is a click or two away.
109: That's so what I was like as a kid, prone to hallucinatory visions and night terrors. It really sucked. I think the main reason I became a hardcore Christian as a kid was that I came across II Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." Maybe a comparable secular approach would be a few Stoicist aphorisms of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius? Philosophic stoicism is just as dangerous as Christian stoicism, probably, in attacking the natural fear/misery response, but when that response is as out-of-control as mine was, having a maxim or two to cling to is a blessing.
38: My four year old has a great theory about how the dinosaurs went 'stinct. See, the T-rex ate all the other dinosaurs, but then after that it starved to death, because a T-rex won't eat another T-rex. I've been meaning to run this one past PZ Myers.
PK has a good theory on B's blog a while back about how at one point the earth was populated only by monkeys.
she has "bad thoughts" at night and can't stop thinking about them
Keegan went through a stage like this, where every night he'd get really, really upset that "bad things" could happen to him, or more often, that they'd happen to us and leave him parentless and alone. My reassurances were mostly useless ("you don't know that it won't happen", which I couldn't refute). Then, after a few months, it all just went away.
I didn't have night terrors as a kids, but I did lie awake for ages worrying about things.* I was borderline insomniac from fairly early childhood as a result.
* it wasn't always worry about specifically bad things, sometimes just racing thoughts and ideas, which could be exciting if it wasn't for the fact that it was the middle of the night and I had school the next day, etc.
at one point the earth was populated only by monkeys
Sylvia has the excellent book Our Family Tree, which we bought at Dr. Myers' recommendation; on the page about early mammals she likes (or liked last time I remember reading it with her, probably about a year ago now) pointing at each of the animals, saying "monkey, monkey, monkey..." even as she points at the animals that are clearly not monkeys.
113: "bad things" Yes. I've known parents who used "wolf-proof" paint, and I installed an alarm on a picture window, and like that. Strange stuff.
K's "bad things" were more like car crashes and cancer. He's always been a stunningly practical kid.
We've got Our Family Tree, too. I like it a lot. Caroline thinks it is ok.
I like it a lot. Caroline thinks it is ok.
I get a big rush of gratification when I read a book I like with Sylvia and she digs it. Like the other day we started Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and from page 1, she was really into it! That felt great, to connect with her that way.
(Bitch, has PK gotten into NIMH? He might dig it, given his rodent fixation. Also: Despereaux, about a mousely adventurer, and A Cricket in Times Square features a mouse as one of its major characters.