Dana made these fantastic Halloween pajamas for Emmeline, who wanted to show that they helped her sleep real well. Do you know how we could tell they didn’t actually help?Take a guess:
The other day Emmeline and I were at the local hall of sciences, examining a wall of skulls showcasing the development of humans.
We were looking at the differences between the earlier chimp-like skulls and those of today, when I nudged Emmeline on the shoulder.
“Kind of neat that we came from chimps, huh?”
“Yeah, remember? Look, chimp-like skulls here and human skulls there. See how they look … similar?”
“What?” I asked.
She shrugged again.
“No, really, what is it?”
“Well,” she said, “I thought, you know, we came from … god?”
This is what I love best about having a four year old. One minute you’re talking about snacks. And the next you’re chatting about religion and evolution.
When we got back home that day, I grabbed endless sheets of craft paper and one of our favorite books and prepared an afternoon lesson in the Young Urban Househusband’s Atheist Granola Eating Guide to the History of the World and Humankind — with a special afterward to further illustrate evolution and take into account the Halloween Week. Or at the very least stall her from coming home from school one day, excited by the thought of “ropin’” a triceratops.
In the living room, I taped together all the sheets and started in with a box of crayons.
First, I said, there was the Big Bang. Note the fireworks. Ooh. Ahh.
Then Emme’s favorite: Earth as a roiling sea of lava, its surface drowning in fire and magma.
There’s the first bacterial life forms.
The dinosaurs. (I’m skipping ahead a lot, but Emme was also partial to this period and did a fine job, I might add, with the pterodactyls.)
And then (more skipping) the age of humans.
In one afternoon, we covered all the way to today: a small family happily playing on the front porch under sunshine and tidy windows.
But then I got to thinking.
It wouldn’t be Halloween Week if there wasn’t … after today.
This was my favorite epoch of the whole timeline — when a military experiment to create super soldiers goes awry in 2018 and vampire-like blood suckers known as “virals” escape from their test center in Colorado and begin to take over the world. You don’t remember this from ninth grade world history? You might have cut that day. But it’s in there. I swear. Or … I’ve loosely cribbed the plot of Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” to illustrate the point that the Earth and all the creatures in it are always evolving.
Humans fought valiantly for centuries against the new creatures.
But eventually, the war took a sad turn. Emmeline liked the idea of virals and seemed pleased when they surrounded and consumed the last surviving human in 2999 AV (after virus). We spent a lot of time talking about which creatures might take over the world after humans and, later, the virals. At first she wanted more dinosaurs — “because they should get another turn” — and then decided on something slightly cooler.
Zombies. “The zombies will be the new rulers.” Fine by me. Some time around 3.5 billion years AV, we decided the last of the virals would die out and the zombies would inherit the world.
They wouldn’t have a long rule, relatively speaking, considering the sun is expected to balloon into a red giant about 5 billion years from now and consume our solar system, at which point the Earth will return to its primal soup of lava and fire before surrendering to the cosmos.
The point is, when Emme wants to know more about the world around her in the future, I’m pretty sure she’ll ask her mother first.
*For the real parts of the timeline, we used Virginia Lee Burton’s excellent Life Story – an illustrated (and updated!) history of the evolution of the universe and humankind. Check it out here. You might remember Burton from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, another family favorite. But I can’t recommend Life Story enough.