The real mystery here is how the-mystery-of-life has lasted so long.
Okay, call it lazy parenting. Call it a case of ‘I can’t be bothered to tell you’, or ‘you’re still too young’ or ‘you don’t really need to know’.
But for some years, my fall-back position for the many and varied questions asked by my daughter was that
‘it was just a mystery of life’.
“Why do birds fly?” she would ask.
“Why am I here?” “Why is my hair long and the other girl’s hair is short?”
“Why is the soil red?” “Why do I have to climb that mountain?”
Why, why, why.
I mean I did try. “Oh birds fly because they have wings and they like to flap them.” Or “The soil is red so it can grow red vegetables really well.”
Or “You have to keep climbing the mountain because we are already halfway up and where else can we go?”
Stuff like that. I mean, these may not have been the most informative, in depth (or correct) responses, but she was about three and I figured she wouldn’t remember what I said after she’d eaten her vegemite sandwich anyway. Anything would do, and I did think the idea of growing red vegetables in red soil was a stroke of genius.
But after a while the questions wore thin and so, without really giving any thought to the answers, I created a stock response. And that is: “It is just another mystery of life.”
You could give this answer in a sing-song kind of voice and she latched on pretty quickly, rapidly firing more questions just to hear the gentle melodious lilt of this perfect (and correct) response.
I say correct, because most of the time I didn’t know the answers (like the red soil) and to me it was something of a mystery.
My daughter remembers this. She doesn’t remember the wisdom of the perfect tomato (okay not a vegetable, but you get the gist), but she does remember me almost singing to her about ‘the mystery of life’.
And now she has carried this on.
Her own daughters have reached their own age of inquisition. They too pound her with questions on a minute-by-minute basis.
There is some kind of karmic revenge there, given there are two of them and the questions can occur in staccato fire, one leading the other down a rabbit hole that becomes curiouser and curiouser.
Why?, why?, why?
And finally a mother’s wisdom has its moment to shine.
Because what is her response? “It is just another mystery of life”.