In 1979 I sent the following offering to Erma Bombeck, hoping she would publish it in her column.  She was kind enough to respond, telling me she was too insecure to use guest columnists.  Just found it (2017) so I guess I’ll publish it myself.



There are times when I think of myself as a fairly intelligent individual–when I am talking to an adult, for example.  There are other times when I am convinced that I am a blithering idiot.  Like when I talk to my children.  This, I tell myself, is because adults generally discuss trivia whereas children concern themselves with eternal verities.

Katy, for example, is three years old and is having trouble with the concept of relativity.  One of her favorite questions is, “Mommy, is this tomorrow?”  “No, it’s today,” I used to answer automatically. “Oh,darn,”  she’d wail, stamping her foot.  “Why is it today?”

This is somewhat of a stumper, so I”d counter with, “Don’t you want it to be today?”



“Other day you said tomorrow you’d take me to the dime store.”

By then I realize that truly today is yesterday’s tomorrow and that it is no longer tomorrow that we are going to the dime store but today. However I balk at putting it so lucidly to a three-year-old.   “You’re right,” I beam. “This is the day we go to the dime store.”

Now when Katy asks, “Is this tomorrow?”  I ask “Do you want it to be tomorrow?” and “Why?”  And if Katy wants it to be tomorrow, it usually is.  I have haunting doubts that I haven’t done much to put Katy wise to the metamorphosis of yesterday into today and tomorrow but I put them out of my mind, wondering if Einstein would have done better.

Terry, at 7, understands yesterday, today, and tomorrow perfectly and I have hopes that Katy will find out the same way (however that is).

Much to my dismay, Terry can read now, and there is no telling what she will ask next!  The other day she was boning up on her theology and came up with “Mommy, does God have only one eye?”  Well, right off I could tell this was going to be a doozy and tried to sidestep the issue with, “Why do you ask?”

“It says here that God has an all-seeing eye.”

“Oh,”I explain, “that just means that God can see everything that goes on all over the world.”

“Does he see with one eye or with two eyes?”

Apparently I hadn’t done a very good job of sidestepping.  I take the bull by the horns and reply, ‘As a matter of fact, God doesn’t have any eyes at all.  God is a spirit and you know a spirit has no body.”

“Can a spirit see without eyes?”   “Yes.”  “Why does it say God has an eye?”

Because people are so used to seeing with eyes that it is hard for them to understand that a spirit can see without eyes so they pretend that God sees with an eye but he really doesn’t” I lamely explain.

“Did Jesus have eyes:”


“How many?”


“Well, Jesus is God.”

“Yes, “I sigh.  “Jesus is God the Son.  We were talking about God the Father.”  (She has learned in school that there are three persons in God, and if Sister says so, it’s so)

“Well, does God the Son have two eyes and God the Father only one?”

I had never heard the distinction between the Persons of the Trinity put quite like that and I am somewhat unnerved as my God the Father image is transformed into sort of an omniscient Cyclops.  Maybe they can do something for her at school, I hope, and comfort myself that the Trinity is, after all, a mystery.

The day came when I thought I could outsmart them.  Wendy, age 8, was musing on the nature of matter.

“Mommy,” she asked, “is air nothing?”

At last!  Here was my forte!  With complete confidence based upon a college degree in biochemistry I launched into an answer calculated to inform her, but good!

“No, air is not only something but it is a lot of things.  It is made up of gases such as nitrogen and oxygen (that’s what our bodies use when we breathe) and carbon dioxide (that’s what we breathe out) and water vapor and small amounts of other gases.   Gases are made up of invisible parts called molecules.  Molecules are composed of even smaller parts called atoms, and atoms are made up of even smaller parts called protons, electrons,neutrons, and so forth.. Think of it,”I said,” as I warmed to my subject and sought to impress upon her the wonderful tininess of these ultimate bits of matter.  “In a single thimbleful of air there are as many teeny-weeny particles as here are people in the whole world!”

“You mean,” she asked, oh, the wide-eyed innocence of her, “Do you mean that every time a baby is born, another little thing jumps into the thimble?”

Now, I ask you!