Driving home, Kiddo#3 said, “That jet is crashing.”
I didn’t react at first because he sounded so calm, but when he said it the third time, I looked. “Oh,” I said, “it’s not actually crashing. That’s the vapor trail a jet leaves, and it looks like it’s pointing toward the ground, but it’s just the angle we’re looking at it. It’s actually moving away from us.”
I couldn’t figure out how to explain spherical geometry to a five year old while driving at highway speed, so I didn’t try.
The next day, he pointed out another trail that looked like a jet would crash into the ground.
The day after, he told me how a jet would crash into the ground and then a fireball would sweep over the whole earth and burn off all the people.
Actually, the first thing he said was, “When will there be no more people?” I said not for a while, and after he kept repeating the question (because, you know, Mom is stupid and sometimes she changes her answer, like, “Oh, I forgot, we’re all going to die on Thursday!”) he came out with the above.
I’m never sure with the Philangelus kids; I said, “Why do you think that will happen?” No answer. “Who told you?”
I figured if he was having locutions, I needed to bathe him in holy water and get him to a priest. I’ve already told my oldest two how to test an angel if they ever see one. “You pray with it,” my daughter will tell you, if she remembers when you ask.
As it turned out, he’d seen it on TV.
Now I was horrified because I keep tight control over what they watch. For one thing, we don’t even have cable. Anything they watch comes on VHS or DVD. And the Backyardagins isn’t known for scenes of flaming death. I kept questioning, and as he answered, he became tearful.
His lip trembled: something big and fiery would slam into the earth and fire would come up and the sky would get dark and everything would die.
I said, “Do you mean like with the dinosaurs?”
Still atremble, he nodded.
Hooboy. Yes, we’d gotten a Discover Dinosaurs video out of the library. It never occurred to me they’d re-enact a comet hitting the earth.
So I explained. There was ‘splainin and ‘splainin and ‘splainin. Explaining that a jet wasn’t big enough to do that. Something as big as the moon could do that, not a jet. That it hadn’t happened for hundreds of millions of years now and was unlikely to happen again. And so on and so forth.
I think it’s under control now, but I feel awful for the kid: watching the skies, tracking airplane trails, and waiting for death from above.