I had written this in the Jambav blog a long time back, when Vyas was 3 and a half:
Vyas has this ‘uncertain’ feeling about a dark sky.. I guess most children do too! And perhaps even the adults! It was around 8.00 PM and he was still on his bicycle outside and I was keeping company. He suddenly asked “why does it get dark so often?” Was going to say something like “God has made day and night. As we need to sleep for some time, He created night”. I knew this would lead to more questions, and visualized myself getting caught into more abstractions (which I’m bad at!).
The simpler option would be to tell him the facts. And so I went thus- ” We live on the earth. It rotates and also revolves around the sun (all this with action mind you!). When our side of earth faces the sun, we have day. When earth turns away from the sun, we have night! Naturally, he was not quite convinced. But he did not prod further too.
The next night, the scene was again the same- he on his bicycle and his mom, the companion. The happily chirping boy suddenly stopped and his face had ‘that’ look. Nervously, he looked up towards the sky and asked “mama, but you said that the earth rotates” and ran indoors. Need I tell you how hard it was to explain that the home we live in, is also built on the same earth?
Now, almost 5 years later, he is not scared anymore about the ground slipping away beneath his feat. But a lightening sends him running indoors like a mouse scuttling away to safety on seeing a cat! I was sweet-talking to Varun in the corridor outside our apartment so that I can stuff the dinner down his throat. Our neighbor, a teacher in a different school was keeping company. The night sky was at its glorious best with sharp lightening and shower and the little one looked on.
“Ammma, what do you think you are doing? Come inside”, that was Vyas. I asked him to come out and enjoy the weather. “But didn’t you see the lightening? ” he asked. I said yes and that it was beautiful. “Ayyo, it only produces Nitrogen, not Oxygen. Come inside right now!” . “So what. The atmosphere is a mix”, I offer. “But that is meant for the plants amma, not for you. You’ll end up breathing in more nitrogen”, he states. The neighbor who was a silent spectator till then told him that Nitrogen makes for over 70% of the atmosphere, Oxygen takes up a little over 20% and Carbon dioxide takes up 2 to 3% with various other gases. He paused to think for a moment and said, “If trees are cut, the Oxygen percentage is reduced. But people too die which means less carbon dioxide emitted “. I reminded him that new saplings/trees keep growing and so are people born. “Which means that the Oxygen and Carbon dioxide are mostly balanced” he thought aloud. At which, the neighbor ‘aunty’ was mighty impressed and told him that there was such a thing as O2-CO2 balance and she will explain in detail when she is free. The lightening chose to strike again and this time he hauled us in saying, “OK, let the trees have the Nitrogen themselves. We don’t need “!!, and he shut the door on the intruding Nitrogen.