There comes a time for every parent when they need to have “the talk” with their child. No matter how much you’ve prepared for it though, it always comes as a surprise.
My son Jeffery is 11 and has just started Fifth Grade. One day he came home from school quieter than normal. Jeffrey has always been a bright and bubbly kid, but he seemed perturbed by something. He barely said a word at dinnertime. He usually fills the dinner table with endless, fanciful stories about his day, but it was clear by the way he fiddled with his mashed potatoes that there was something on his mind. It wasn’t until we started clearing the plates that he finally popped the question:
“Mom,” he asked. “What are the ‘Worker Elves?’”
I froze for a second. “Where did you hear about that, Sweetie?” I replied.
“Harry from school said his brother told him that there are tiny elves controlling your body. Is that true?”
I looked over at my husband Frank, who simply nodded and said, “It’s time.”
“Well,” I told Jeffery, “Inside every living person on earth, there are these tiny invisible men, some call them ‘elves.’ Their job is to operate and control your body, including your muscles, your heart and even your brain.” “See, Jefferey,” Frank added, “your body is like a factory, and the ‘Worker Elves’ are what keeps your body running.”
This answer seemed to satisfy Jeffery, but he was the ever-curious type. Whenever I picked him up from school or brought him grocery shopping, he always had questions about the elves. Where do they come from? Do they have names or families? Do they ever take bathroom breaks?
One time on a fishing trip with Frank, Jeffery asked him, “What happens when a person dies? Do the Elves become unemployed?”
“No, Sport,” Frank responded, “They simply move to another body and continue working.”
“What happens when the Worker Elves go on strike?” Jeffery asked. “Are they unionized? Do they have health benefits?
“You’ll find out when you’re older,” Frank said, and continued fishing.
As much as we’d like to shelter our children from things like the Worker Elves or the Dumpster Squids, one way or another they discover them on their own. Some might say “they’re too young,” but it's honestly helpful to prepare your child for when they are old enough to know.
By the time Jeffery hits 14, he will be old enough to enter The Ancient Cave, where he will be fed DMT and finally be able to see the Worker Elves for himself. He will see that his body is not made of flesh and tissue, but a series of grinding gears and wheels. He will see the Worker Elves working tirelessly to keep Jeffery’s body functional. This brief journey beyond the physical world will help Jeffery in his quest for enlightenment.
The greatest joy as a parent is to watch your child grow and learn more about the world. It can be confusing, frustrating or difficult to have open conversations with your child, but that struggle is an essential part of their growth.
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