Living Like a Tolkien Troll: Tacklerism Tuesday

My son loves science: the solar system, planets, space, the human body, bones – you name it, he’s probably asked about it.

Whatever topic holds his interest, I run with, because he absorbs so much more.

However, some things are simply beyond a 4 year old’s grasp, and his brain will twist the data so it “makes sense” in his world.

The problem arises when you dare correct the facts he holds true.

Case in point: Living Inside the Earth

“Mommy we live inside the Earth. Then there is the sky. And WAY above it is space.”

“Sweetie, we don’t live inside the Earth, we live on top of it. The top part of the Earth is called the crust, and we’re walking on it right now.”

“NO Mommy! We’re inside the Earth and space is above it!”

“Space is way above the Earth, but we are on top of it too, just a lot closer. If we were inside the Earth, we wouldn’t be able to see the stars and sun or the sky.”

This is when the “whining cry voice” spits out the words, as he rebels against what he believes to be true.

“No Mommy, you’re wrong. Space is way above the earth and we live inside it. See?” (points to photo of Earth taken from space)“You can’t see the houses.”

"I just moved in next door and was wondering if I could borrow some sugar?"

I am off in search of a good aerial photo to get my point across before the Balrog and goblins come after us.

In other science news, I need an audio recording of his “where babies” come from explanation – something I cannot correct at this age without showing him graphic detail.

Now I know why parents rely on The Stork.

How do you explain complicated scientific matters to preschoolers? Lie? Avoid the question? Find a video on YouTube?


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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21 Responses to Living Like a Tolkien Troll: Tacklerism Tuesday

  1. This one is a tough one since as moms we can give the best kisses, get the best cup of juice and make their favourite dinner but we know crap about science or anything else. Even if we’re an ivy-league science grad. it’s hard for them to believe us when we tell them things like we live on top of the Earth because we also tell them things like they have to brush their teeth to get rid of the sugar bugs.

    I’m a big believer in giving them as much information as they need. Like when my 4y/o asked me how the baby gets out of my tummy. My answer was simply “the doctor will take him out”. She didn’t need to know the REAL way she just needed to know there was a plan.

    I’m also a big believer in a book. While the You Tube video is an easy solution and likely compelling for them to watch it doesn’t allow them to digest the information at their own pace or ask questions.

    My son was insistent that Dinosaurs and people lived at the same time and got upset if you suggested anything else. That weekend we went to Indigo Kids – got a book out and flipped through the pages. When we happened upon the page that said “Dinosaurs lived millions of years before people” I pointed at the sentence (which he can’t read) and said “Look at what this says… Now THIS is very interesting” and I read him the page. He then said to me “now that IS interesting” then proceeded to tell his sister. We never had. Tears about dinosaurs ever again.

    Good luck!

  2. John says:

    I remember my sister having a drag-out temper-tantrum in the local pizza place growing up because she was convinced that carrots grew on trees. The idea that carrots grew in the ground messed with her version of reality so thoroughly that she had no choice but to drop to the floor & flop around.

    It really was impressive.

    I have no idea how I’ll do the “where babies come from” explanation.

  3. Kim Woehl says:

    Step number 1 – only answer what they are actually asking you about. Like one of the mommies above mentioned, they often just need to know that their is a plan. We can then share that data, then ask if they have more questions. Often times they don’t and we get to wait for the deeper stuff until another day.

  4. Evonne says:

    My son is 5 and always asks “why”. Trying to explain something, anything, to him on a level he can understand is like pulling teeth.

    I’m terrified of when my 9 year old will ask where babies come from. My plan for now is to get her a book, have her look through it, then come to me with questions.

  5. Phyllis says:

    When my kids were Tackler’s age, I often did not try to correct their beliefs if the topic was too complex, or if they were as set in their belief of something as Tackler is about the order of the universe. I figured there was plenty of time to explain later. Sometimes I’d slip in library books on the topic if I thought it was important that they be corrected now, but I didn’t push it. As for other stuff — I never tried to give them complex information unless they asked. I tried to only answer what they asked, and not go into peripheral details that they did not ask for/about. And if it was just too complex for the age, I would say thoughtfully, “Gosh, that one is hard to explain. Can I think about it for a bit, and then we can talk about it later?” This was always acceptable to the kids, as far as I can remember. They both grew up to be honor students, so it’s not like some childish interpretations of things did them any harm.

  6. Mimi says:

    Questions to me included: Why don’t the clouds fall out of the sky? Why does the wind blow and why is the grass green and not blue like the sky? Especially challenging to explain to a precocious 3 year old.

  7. CG says:

    I am really going to enjoy the “how big is space?” question.


    “No, bigger.”


    “No, bigger.”

  8. CG says:

    I also spent some time with him about the whole inside the earth thing. I concluded that he means the atmosphere. Inside the atmosphere. And space is above that. His books probably look a lot like that without the words. In some way, his perception is actually more accurate. It is our smaller, day to day perception that is a little weird.

  9. Kir says:

    We haven’t really gotten any questions like that yet, but the teachers at school say they ask stuff like that all the time. I think we’ll just go with it, if we can answer it , we will, it will need to google it we will….and if we need to lie…well, you know I’ll do it. 😉

  10. Reba Verrall says:

    Sounds to me like you have a little scientist growing up in your home! His willingness to contemplate the information enough to create his own sense of ‘how it works’ is absolutely the perfect ‘blank slate’ any good scientist should start with IMHO.

    That said, explaining tough stuff to my girls when they were small went something like: “I think we better google that, Mommy’s soldier job doesn’t really cover that question” LOL #totalcopout I know.

  11. Leighann says:

    Look up the book where did I come from
    Is that too mature?

  12. MamaRobinJ says:

    I can totally see this conversation happening in our house. NO, WE DON’T!

    I suspect sometimes there’s a point at which trying to correct the assumption becomes more trouble than it’s worth.

  13. Heather H says:

    We have more than our fair share of “No, you are wrong, Mommy, and I am right” conversations in our house. I completely sympathize, and admire your ability to teach him instead of giving up like I do (I just get tired of the arguing and say “whatever”). I LOVE how into science he is! You have a future scientist on your hands, Mama! But here’s to hoping he’s not like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. 😉

  14. Pingback: When a Tree Becomes a Rocket, the Universe a Klein Bottle, and Drinking Soda Causes Eternal Life | Dances with Chaos

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