Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Existential Son

The existential son has come up with the solution to his problem. The problem being his yearlong quest to find out who/what created Hashem.

We're driving over the GW and I comment on the many colors in the sunset and isn't it amazing that not only has Hashem created beauty in nature, but the lights starting to sparkle in the city buildings are also beautiful. He's quiet so I'm not even sure that he heard me. The next thing I know his voice pops up and says "When I die and go to shmayim I'm going to ask Hashem who created him. Then I will finally know." He continued with, "Becuuuuzz , it just doesn't makes sense." And with great emphasis added "It doesn't follow the laws of physics."

I had to choke back my laughter. He reiterated that the fact that no one created Hashem goes against the laws of science. I had to agree with him. Then I gave him my standard comment when he brings this up. "It's very hard to understand and even adults have problems comprehending this." I have yet to discover a different way to handle this. I had/have these questions sometimes myself, but it didn't start until I was around 11 or 12 years old. He started asking this when he was seven and has been completely frustrated with me for still not having "the answer" for him.

Usually, if I don't know the answer to something he asks I'll tell him so and then say that we should look it up. That's how I have ended up with an extensive knowledge of dinosaurs, geodes, minerals, spiders, Benjamin Franklin(one of his idols along with spiderman) and the revolutionary and civil wars. But I can't look this up in the encyclopedia or google this with him.

Help, anyone?!?!?!?


come running said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wow! Your son is unusually brilliant! I would be so very proud to have my son ask such a question!

I think I'd answer him this way:

"You know, the very question you are asking was asked as far back as the ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, approximately 3000 years ago.

Nobody has yet found an answer that satisfies everybody, not even great and wise men like Benjamin Franklin or Spiderman!

Famous rabbis like Ramchal and Rambam thought that certainly G-d couldn't have invented the laws of physics before he invented the universe they govern, and for this reason they concluded that these laws do not govern the G-d that created them. He was always there, and always will be, even if there is no universe or laws of physics to govern it. He lives outside the universe and inside it at the same time.

But, even more interesting, why would G-d would create a universe with laws of physics, anyway? G-d created the universe and the laws of physics because he wished to offer them as gifts to humans, so that they could live their lives with purpose, understanding and skill.

G-d would be especially pleased to see how greatly you appreciate the wonderousness of all that He created! He created it especially for curious little boys like you!"

come running said...


Thank you for the wonderful answer you wrote. I even read it to db (darling boy)and he enjoyed it too. But he still does not want to give up his quest. I respect him for that, and I'm so glad that he feels comfortable coming to me with his questions.

Going to Bais Yaakov I NEVER asked my questions. I thought that I was the only one with them. Not until I went to sem. in Eretz Yisrael did I start to ask and confront my rebbeim. I was pleasantly surprised by their willingness to speak to me. In fact, I felt that they respected me for trying to get answers.

come running said...


I forgot to include a thank you for the compliment you gave me about db so here it is now.


Anonymous said...

You're welcome, CR.

I also respect the search - it's just that it's so exhausting, even for us big people. How can a little guy do it? I've been reading a lot to try and get my arms around what it all means for me, too, but there is so much that we can't know that in the end, it's a guess, and a matter of faith. Faith is a hard thing for little scientists to accept.

It's clear from what you wrote that the "low lying fruit" for him is the intellectual approach. It's easy for him. This is very unusual at that age, but just the same, it's necessary to help him stretch a bit so that he can feel more comfortable with things like feelings or instincts or hunches, the "inspiration" as well as the "persperation" that Einstein referred to. This is also part of being a good scientist.

That's going to be difficult for him, probably, because he's so comfortable with his intellect. Nevertheless, I think that we become so much more well rounded and easier to get along with if we are both feeling and thinking. I can't believe I'm talking about a small child here, as usually these don't even become issues at this age, but just the same it's worth giving it some thought about how to enable him to trust his "feelings" more, and to accept a bit of uncertainty. Life is just too messy to leave to science alone! :-)

come running said...


Actually, db is not comfortable with his intellect. He is extremely bright, but we just discovered that he has dyslexia and dysgraphia. Since he is very aware and realizes that he is not doing as well as his classmates, he calls himself "stupid and dumb." It does make him feel better to know that scientists and inventors like Newton, Einstein, Edison and Faraday suffered from dyslexia and had a hard time in school. Db loves to paint and draw and knows that Picasso and Da Vinci also had dylexia.

I understand why db might have a problem with faith and trust and wants everything in his life to be stable and concrete. The divorce has been very difficult on him. I have been working with him for awhile in getting him to recognize and express his emotions in a healthy way because of it. I've continued doing so because of his frustation with school. The perserverence that he displays trying to complete his homework, and his empathy that he has toward other children who have trouble in school(i.e. with learning or bullying) has helped me to worry less about his future. I know that with Hashem's help he will grow up to be a caring, loving individual who will be able to accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

I think there's a midrash that says that a child's neshama picks who its parents will be. I've told db that I am very lucky that he chose me even with all these difficulties we have to get through. I am lucky... but very tired.

You are very knowledgeable and insightful about science and children and I appreciate your input. It always helps to have another point of view.

>Life is just too messy to leave to science alone!

I completely agree with you, and hope db will also one day!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow - CR, I sure know where you're coming from. I didn't know all those people had dyslexia - that's really interesting.

I had 3 children who were a breeze. My last one, a boy, who is now nearly 10, is more difficult. First, he was the first to grow up when the relationship with my wife (soon to be ex, probably) were deteriorating. Similarly to your son, he also "acts out" because, we sense, of his lack of a sense of security. He also might have a moderate case of Aspergers, but it's more likely ADHD with a case of not knowing what to do with his anxiety.

We're working as hard as we can to help him feel more secure, and a lot is just going to take time until he learns better ways to deal with his "jitters" but the relationship his parents have with each other is a fact, and we just don't see eye to eye on which "fights to pick" in terms of helping him. We're not seeing eye to eye on much of anything.

So, CR, you're not alone. Good luck with db - he has a caring mommy, and that's great start to becoming a caring man.

come running said...


I'm sorry to hear that your son is having such a tough time. Children are very perceptive and even though you haven't been getting along with your wife for awhile he might be picking up on the fact that soon his parents might no longer be together.

Anxiety presents itself the same way as ADHD. Db's teachers thought that he had ADHD. I did a tremendous amount of research and the first thing that the AAP (american academy of pediatrics), APA (american psychological association) and NIMH (national institute of mental health) all state is before ADD or ADHD is diagnosed first look at the child's home. I'm not saying that your son doesn't have Asperger's or ADHD it's just that he might also be suffering from anxiety and depression.

I definitely understand the frustration in not being able to come to an agreement in how best to help your son. My ex still wants db diagnosed as ADHD even after seven different professionals have tested him and said that he does not have it. Db is on an anti-depressant because of his anxiety and depression due to his father's treatment of him, the divorce, and his learning problems. Therapy also helps him.

I'm the child of divorce and I know that it always helped me when my parents told me that I was not to blame and that although they no longer love each other they both still love me. I just keep on telling db that I love him no matter what and that I will always be there for him. Listen to the professionals but trust your instincts about your son. You know him best.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, CR. As you probably know, even the idea that there is ADHD or Aspergers might be just a clinical mistake. The symptoms of each may be the way that certain of the personality types respond to anxiety.

PRoblem is, anxiety is a fact of life. So, we need to teach him how to deal with it, while trying to limit it to proportions he can handle without becoming overwhelmed. That's the problem - that my wife and I disagree on which stimulae are "too much". THe obvious example is whether we should stay together "for him". If we could get along, fine. But we can't - what's gained then? Better to just "deal" with it. But my wife really doesn't like things that are open ended that she doesn't know the outcome of in advance - I'm more flexible about such things.

I really want to help him, and I don't want to hurt my wife at all. But it's just not working, and we can certainly be parents without having to be married - I think most of that whole matter is anxiety that she has that she's projecting to him, but again, that is just another thing we disagree on. Ooof!

Anonymous said...

Hi. You might find the following useful:

come running said...

Thanks, I did.

More things that I am starting to learn because of db, thermodynamics........

I wanted to comment on whether you should stay together for your son. Personally, I don't believe in it, but I'm sure there will be less things to fight over and litigate if you do stay together. I don't think I could do it after I finally realize that the marriage most certainly cannot be saved.

Your son can and probably is picking up on your wife's anxiety. As a woman, it is very scary to enter into divorce. It's harder to get back into the job force, you have less money, it's easier for a divorced man to get remarried, etc..... He might also be picking up on your feelings towards your wife.

If it's at all possible try to mediate and always keep the children's interests first. I hope that whatever does take place your little boy will adjust and move forward, and be happy and more relaxed.

What did you mean about open-ende? Did you mean that she wants a diagnosis immediately?

be well and have a good shabbos

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, CR - we had a long talk, and we seem after 5 years of difficulty to be reconciling. I have mixed feelings about it, as you can expect after 5 years of difficulty, but overall I think it's a good thing. I think she finally realized that I'm better than the alternative, so she made an effort to be nice. :-)

come running said...

I'm glad that you wrote. I was afraid that I said something out of line about staying together. If someone had told me that I should try to stay together with my ex I would've been extremely angry and hurt. It's unfair to say things like that when you don't know the whole story. Sorry.

I really hope that things work out for you guys. It's great that you were able to talk about things. Are you also going to therapy? It helps to have an unbiased party explain how certain things hurt a marriage, and how to work on changing those behaviors. But they really do have to be professional and caring.

If it had been possible to stay in my marriage I would have, but he is a very sick man.

I hope that this will make life easier for your son. I wish that there was a way for me to make db's life easier. I see how hard it is for him and sometimes it makes me want to cry.

But then I think about his gifts and I realize that along with the bad also came some good.

We finished reading The Time Machine the other night and we were talking about how the time traveler could save Weena. I mentioned that he could go back to a time before he even met her and then they could both go somewhere else in time together. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, db said "No, Mommy that can't work because then he would have never met her later on (in her future) and so he couldn't go back to save her (in the time traveler's future). Absolutely unbelievable! He was right, and I explained to him that that was a paradox that usually takes place in time traveling stories.

Db then mentioned that he is now going to change his plans and create a transporter/time machine so he can go anywhere or to any time (to the Jurassic era or back to Shlomo Hamelech to see the Beis Hamikdash being built).

I hope life gets more enjoyable and easier for you and your family (especially your 10 year old little boy).

Be well and good luck

Anonymous said...

Thanks, CR - I just love hearing these stories about your boy! What an amazing child!

I had been in therapy with my wife already for some time, and before that some time on my own (because she wouldn't go). I'm not sure how things are going to turn out, but the good thing is that the "sharpness" has mostly dissipated now and we're doing good, hard, purposeful work that will, if successful, save the marriage. Essentially, it's about growing up and deciding whether we can stop being angry about what we're not getting, and whether we can be happy with what's left.

I hope it works, and the truth is, I'm optimistic either way. If it doesn't work out, then I think we can part ways in as friendly a way as possible, to the good of everyone. If it works out, all so much the better.

My 10 year old son has been rediagnosed with ADHD, but there are other things we need to deal with, too. Not sure what they are yet, but either way, I feel better that my wife and I are finding a way to join hands and fight for him together.

All the best, CR - and enjoy your son DB - tell him I think he's great! And tell him I can't wait for that time machine to be invented, and that I thinks it's a great idea!

come running said...

Hey Anon,

That's great news. It can only make your son feel more secure to know that both of you are working together in order to help him. It's also probably less tense at home. I'm not saying that everything is fine with you guys, but I hope it will be. If not, you will have worked through the anger. I've found, though, that after the anger came sadness and disappointment.

What I'm really impressed with is that you have chosen to be happy whichever way things go.

Wouldn't it be great if db would invent a time machine? Then we could go back to when things started to deteriorate and.... Well, I just realized that wouldn't really work in my case, and I wouldn't go back in time and make sure not to marry my ex because then I wouldn't have wonderful beautiful db.

I only regret one thing in life, and marrying the ex is not it.

I really do want to use the transporter db is making. I wouldn't have to spend time traveling that I could spend with my family instead. The only problem is that I don't have a garage, basement or even a barn and he "needs" soda cans (for the tin), old transistor radios (that he's taken apart)and other assorted necessary items (junk) in order to build this thing.

I got him a microscope for his birthday and that's been keeping him busy so that I actually get to throw out my garbage before he appropriates it for his "work".

Anonymous said...


Yes, it's a choice to be happy - but I am scared to death. I've never been with anybody except for my wife. I really wouldn't know what to do. On the other hand, i like making my expectations explicit and hearing my wife's expectations. We usually never really say them. We are both so accommodating that we sort of always "just do" things, until we got tired of that and now we need to find another way. Whatever - what will be, will be. I've got some really great kids, and I did have some nice years with my wife that are worth remembering - it wasn't for nothing.

I wish I had learned those lessons before I had to learn them - a time machine would have helped with that. Youth is wasted on the young as they say.

As far as the time machine/transporter - Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) uses a simple cardboard box and it seems to work fine. You just have to know how to think about it the right way, because unlike all other machines, "thought" is its fuel.

I used to make these kinds of machines when I was a kid, too - I'd draw knobs and guages and stuff on the box walls, I'd take dust pans and brooms and use them for steering levers, and off I'd go.

But then, suddenly, I grew up. Forgot about all those things, and ran out of fuel. I landed here. The real secret to time travel, you can tell DB, is to keep a place in his heart to remember the good things - that's the best kind of fuel there is.

come running said...

Hey A,

I have just learned how to make my wishes known. In the past I was too timid to say anything for fear of upsetting the apple cart, but I've been pushing myself and when I do my expectations are usually met and at the very least heard and acknowledged. It's most definitely still a struggle, but I don't want to live my marriage over again. I've learned that lesson and once was enough.

Even if things don't work out with your wife at least you will be used to stating your expectations, and that can only help with any relationship you are involved.
You're lucky that you have had some good times. It's very difficult for me to remember any; probably because they were few and far between.

One of the many reasons why I am so glad that DB was born (aside from his hugs)is that I can see how amazing the world looks through his eyes. His curiosity rivals mine, but he pulls me in directions that I might not have gone on my own. Isn't it fascinating to see your child's mind working? Some of things he comes up with remind me of Calvin. I hope that he will always carry with him the wonder of a child no matter how old he gets.

It appears to me (it is especially evident in the first comment you wrote) that you still have some of Calvin inside of you and enough fuel to get you to a happy and satisfying future. I also wish the same for your whole family.

btw: Calvin's machine was called a transmogrifier

Anonymous said...

Yep, I've heard that comment that I'm like Calvin from many people! :-)

Thanks for your well wishes, and same to you. And especially to that "Spaceman Spiff" of yours! :-)

come running said...

Hey A,

Hope you have a freilichen purim. I know DB is can't wait. I hope that we will be able to go to "kansas" for seudah. That would mean that his father has to cooperate and let DB come home after the carnival and megillah reading instead of sleeping over his place.

How are things going with your little boy (although I'm sure he would take offense at being called little) and with you and your wife?

You can feel free to e-mail me if you choose.