My Sweet Little Nietzsches

July 1st, 2023

Over my coffee this morning I am reading an incredible news story about a plane crash in the Amazonian rainforest that killed three adults and left four children alone in the jungle for 40 days. From 14 years to 11 months old, they survived on uncooked fariña and foraged fruits and seeds before a dramatic helicopter rescue got them to a hospital — basically physically okay but with “a lot of insect bites.”

My daughter, sitting next to me, asks me to hand her a banana.

I am not sure my 8-year-old daughters could survive stranded alone in the jungle for 40 days — or in my house for an hour. But they have other strengths. For instance, they are absolutely astounding at asking me questions I cannot answer.

“Mama, can you go around the world and end up in yesterday?” She is watching a TV show about time zones.  

At first I laugh because, of course not! But then I think about it for a second. Maybe? We ask Alexa, and she says that there are 24 time zones (nope, did not know this). I philosophize, “Yeah, I think so.”

She pursues the line of questioning: “So, If something went wrong yesterday, could I go back in time and change it?”

Jon, overhearing, weighs in: “That sounds like time travel, which is not currently an option.”

Phew, teamwork.

They have so many questions lately that I cannot answer. A casual beach conversation on the Cape….

“Mama, is it okay to drink ocean water? Okay cuz I just did.”

“Mama, why do surfers wear black suits so they look exactly like seals?” (There are seals stalking us on behalf of the sharks, and I am happy for the seals that they are flourishing again, but also, sharks.)

“Mama, CAN I PEE IN THE WATER???” (always yelled when other people are nearby)

“Mama, but exactly HOW does the moon make waves?”

“Mama, what happens if people go extinct and I’m the only one still alive?”

I consider reading The Road to them, then decide against it. They’re still stuck on My Little Pony, and quite honestly I couldn’t handle that book when I read it in my thirties.

“My sweet little Nietzsche,” I say. “Have you had any water today?”

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