“Is sasquatch real?” Quinn asks, out of breath, as she runs up to me. I’m sitting at the table drawing faces on marshmallows we’re about to roast. Is sasquatch real?
There’s a part of me – that quick gut reaction part – that tries to quickly blurt out, “No,” just so I don’t get embroiled in an endless conversation of “Why? Why? Why?” with my five year old. But instead I bite. “Is sasqatch real? That is a very interesting question because it doesn’t have an answer. Have you ever heard of a question that doesn’t have an answer before?”
She shakes her head no. Quinn is very inquisitive and both her memory and ability to comprehend large concepts is sometimes frightening. She looks at me with wide eyes and crunched eyebrows. I can tell that she understands she’s breaking new ground.
“Well, Quinn. Some people believe in sasquatch and some people don’t.”
“Because there is no proof of him. Do you know what proof is?”
“It’s something you can say is real. I have proof that this marshmallow is real because I’m holding it in my hand and I can touch it and I can see it and feel it. Another name for proof is evidence.”
“And you can tell that I am real because you can see me?
“That’s right! You’re very smart.”
“So sasquatch is not real because nobody can see him.”
This is where it gets tricky. How do you nurture a sense of awe and wonder in a child while still painting an accurate portrait that they will understand without drowning them in information? That’s a tall request. How do you explain how large the galaxy is to a child that doesn’t have true concept of what a mile looks like? It all needs to be boiled down to these very simple kernels of truth.
“Sasquatch might be real because nobody has ever seen him. I know that’s a big idea for you. Nobody has ever seen him so we cannot say with certainty that he is real or false.”
“Can you look it up on your phone?”
I appreciate that Quinn views my phone as a gateway to all knowledge and truth because, at its core, that is exactly what the internet is. The Great Digital Oracle.
“The answer is not on my phone. Nobody knows the true answer.”
“There are no pictures?”
“Yes, there are pictures but nobody knows if they’re real or faked.”
“Like a man in a suit?”
“Your astuteness frightens me sometimes.”
“Oh! Thanks, Dad. What is uh-stood-ness?”
“Lots of questions. Let’s not get side-tracked. You should also know that there are some people that say they’ve seen sasquatch and have touched him but most other people say that they just made it up.”
“Why would they do that?”
“I don’t know. Publicity?”
“What is publicity?”
“It’s like when you do something so that a lot of people hear about you.”
“Because some people like to be the center of attention.”
“Alright, listen. Let’s focus on one thing. Ready? What did we learn? Sasquatch is . . .”
“Because . . .”
“Nobody has seen him and we cannot prove it.”
“That’s right. It’s just a story until someone has . . .”
I pick up my marker and start coloring in the eyeballs on my marshmallow, creating life.
Quinn scratches her head with comically large actions. It’s like a very theatrical cartoon character taught her what it looks like when people “think”. Lots of head rubbing and going, “Ummmmm.”
“Yes, Quinn? Do you have another question?”
“Is God real?”
I set down my marshmallow and look into its flat, lifeless eyes and wonder if she intentionally sets me up.