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Explaining darwinism and the world to a 4 year old.

(32 Posts)
nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 13:18:56

DH and DS1 at some point yesterday had a discussion about monkeys and people.

This morning at breakfast he asked, 'why are some people still monkeys and why do other people keep them in zoos?'

Help me out mumsnet. I'm not sure i understand it myself. But how do i explain it to a four year old.

While we're at it, does anyone know if bees get cross that we take their honey? I've explained that they are not cross at the time because of the smoke, but he wants to know if bees hold a grudge.

Help me, i'm not cut out for this.

solidgoldSneezeLikeApig Mon 18-May-09 13:23:01

Wow what a smart kid you have. SOrry I can't help properly but just wanted to say, I'm impressed...

FrankMustard Mon 18-May-09 13:27:09

lol grin
my 5yr old has exactly the same deep questions for us!
Bees enjoy making honey I think, so us taking it isn't a problem because they'll enjoy making more(that was my reply to s similar question!).
Mind you, if it's my ds, he'll then say How do you know?
We tell ds that we evolved from apes so although apes still exist as apes, humans developed too which is why we're here today! He's obsessed with heaven and dying and where we were before we were born...already fielded the "how are people made?" question and luckily he's happy with our answer thus far without needing us to go into the hows and whats!

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 13:28:41

Well he's smart alright.

He understands what gravity 'is', but then he wants to know 'why?' FFS!

Sorry, i don't want this thread to be a isn't my DS clever, when he's really a pain in the arse. But how do other people keep up with the kids questions?

I'm thinking we'll have to go to a bee farm. He wants to go and see some monkeys at a sanctuary, but i think i need to be prepared for his questions on the differences between monkeys and people. I don't know where to start.

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 13:32:19

Thanks FrankMustard.
We did the 'what happens when you die' thing recently, but as we're humanist, I ended up saying 'I don't know', but that we hope that things are nicer when you're not feeling ill anymore.
hmm

bruffin Mon 18-May-09 13:33:28

Can't you say that humans and monkeys started off on something like the same tree trunk, but then some monkeys went on one branch and stayed monkeys and others went on another and developed into humans.

He will probably still say why, but you can say they were affected by the environment around them and also what they ate.

I think there is some evidence that early man lived by the sea and it was by eating lots of fish, or fish eating creatures that his brain development accelerated rapidly.

bigstripeytiger Mon 18-May-09 13:35:44

When my DDs raised this I said that humans didnt used to be monkeys, but that both people and monkeys were originally the same animal that developed in different ways.

I'd find it difficult to explain the keeping in zoos bit. I think I would say that some people think its not nice, but then some animals are alive in zoos when they would not survive in the wild.

FrankMustard Mon 18-May-09 13:35:54

My DS is now asking a lot about heaven - think they must talk about it a lot at school - so he wonders if our bodies don't go up to heaven, is it just our minds and do our eyeballs go too (!) but also is there a good and a bad heaven, good heaven for before you're born and bad heaven for afterwards....shock such deep thinking!
He does at least reason that no-one knows what it's like once you've died - because we've died!!!
It's lovely having a child so intrigued by the world, isn't it, but tricky when they ask things that as an adult it's hard to answer!
I preferred the "why" questions - why can't we do this, why do I have to do that....much easier to answer!!! wink

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 13:36:25

Oh i like that one bruffin. especially as he loves fish (might be the problem here actually).

FrankMustard Mon 18-May-09 13:38:11

lol {grin] my ds loves fish too! There's clearly something in it!!!!
IME it's better to be factual about how things happen instead of making up a version of it - my dcs only come back to us later on and challenge our explanation so it's easier to just tell them straight.
DH and I both from science background anyway, so it's the way we think and it's amazing what info sticks and what a child of 4 or 5 can take on board.

FrankMustard Mon 18-May-09 13:38:49

<she says after suggesting that bees delight in making honey just for us to enjoy on toast!> blush

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 13:41:07

yes frankmustard, DS1 is happy with a 'don't know' on death.

i like the eyeballs. guess he's wondering if a spirit can see.

i see bigstripeytiger, so as well as the drawings of the missing link etc straightening up and becoming humans, i need to show him how monkeys developed from that too.

i vaguely remember a great exhibition on this at the natural history museum in new york. all made sense to me at the time.

FrankMustard Mon 18-May-09 13:47:37

the library is a great place to satisfy these young minds. Currently on loan we have a book on volcanoes, a book on what can go wrong with racing cars and a book on the human body (I'm tired of explaining how number 2s come to be!)grin

cestlavie Mon 18-May-09 13:52:06

Those are good questions. In answer to the questions:

(1) People used to put animals in zoos just to make money from people coming to see them. Nowadays people mainly keep animals in zoo to help protect the species and make sure they'll be around for a long time to come and the money they make from people coming to see them they use for conservation and keeping the zoo going.

(2) Under certain conditions, monkeys can become people but only over a very, very long time like millions of years and under these conditions. These conditions would need the monkeys to clearly benefit from becoming people over that time.

(3) Given that bees use honey as a food source I imagine they aren't very happy about having it taken away. But, most animals don't have the same concept of time and memory we do and therefore are very unlikely to be able to hold grudges as we understand them. Oh, and the beekeeper has also given them somewhere to live and has looked after them.

DD3.5 is just heading into the same conversation (cue conversation about lions and gazelles yesterday):

DD: "Why is the antelope fallen onto the ground?"
Me: "Because the lion has chased it and caught it."
DD: "Why are its eyes closed? Is it asleep?"
Me: "Um, no. The lion killed it after it caught it."
DD: "Why did it kill it?"
Me: "Because lions eat antelopes and it was hungry"
DD: "But we don't kill things because it is unkind."
Me: "Um, no but the lion can't help it because it's in its nature and it needs to eat to live."
DD: "Will the lion say sorry to the antelope?"
Me: "Um.... unlikely..."

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 14:24:49

very funny.

'yes, sorry old chap' 'rip, shread,blood, gore etc'

DS1 had a lot of questions for me after seeing the fish counter at tescos. he thought the fish looked very 'surprised' to not in water.

he might be right.

i think the hardest thing is when you have explain that sometimes (maybe a lot) that humans don't do good things and cause harm, destruction etc.

why do cows make so much milk?
because we give them hormones to make enough for us, and we seem to need a lot.
it's doesn't seem right to burden him with this stuff, but he wants to know.

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 14:26:13

oh, so we don't keep monkeys in zoos so we can sell ice cream and overpriced crap in the gift shop then? wink

woodstock3 Mon 18-May-09 16:05:30

not much help on the monkey question (seems you have thought of the best answer to that question yourself....)
but as a beekeeper's daughter...the bees might be a bit annoyed when the honey gets taken (hence the smoke to calm them down) but the beekeeper gives a pile of sugar to the hive before winter, which the bees use to replace the honey. so they don't stay cross for long.

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 16:10:04

good, that should soften the blow a bit.

will take him to quince honey farm for a proper look.

flyingdolphin Mon 18-May-09 16:34:50

'when are we all going to become monkeys again' my 4yo ds asked me yesterday at the playground.

evolution as a reversible process. makes you think, what if he is right?

Legacy Mon 18-May-09 16:40:10

flyingdolphin - tell him some people have alreday begun the devolution process grin

(I daren't make any stereotypical suggestions, as it is MN, and I will be flamed...[wink )

Have you seen the 'Devolve Yourself' thing - I see if I can find it - it's fun for kids to see....

Legacy Mon 18-May-09 16:42:13

Devolve me - great fun - especially with least favourite relatives and exs..... grin

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 16:46:53

oh my god, it's terrifying.
not sure i should show it to him

nevergoogledragonbutter Mon 18-May-09 16:56:51

he loves it grin

flyingdolphin Mon 18-May-09 17:38:08

legacy - that is absolutely brilliant! my kids loved it, they have been on it for the past half hour devolving themselves and various other people. even works with thomas the tank engine.

i will now have to try a find a picture of my boss to devolve. not that you will be able to see any difference.

MeMySonAndI Mon 18-May-09 17:40:49

I have no idea about how to explain Darwinism to him, however, regarding the bees... yes, they do get blooody cross, no need to convince him that bees are happily working so we can have the fruits of their hard work spread over our pancakes.

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