My sister's children came to visit me while I was staying with my parents recently. When they visit it can often be mayhem. I don't get to see them often so when I do it's like a special treat for them and the loudness of their voices tends to mirror the level of their excitement.
After they had been outside a while, playing with bubbles, and had burnt off a lot of energy, we headed back indoors for a bit more quiet time.
I was sitting beside one of my nieces having a chat while her sister sat in the kitchen keeping herself busy, drawing. My nephew? I'm not sure where he was at that time or what he was up to... hmmm...
Anyway. I was asking my niece all about school (she moves to 'big' school soon as she'll be turning 12) and what subjects she would be studying at her new school, I was asking her about animals and about the guinea pigs they have at home. Anything that I thought she might enjoy talking about. But, in all honesty, I struggled to get anything out of her.
I'm not sure how the subject came around but we suddenly touched on something 'heavy', something that I wouldn't expect a child her age to think about never mind have an answer to.
The subject was about her life and the question went along the lines of "What do you think your purpose is in life? Why are you here?"
I know, I know. She's 11 going on 12, not 41 going on 42. That's no question to pose to such a young child (can you tell I'm not a mother and don't feel comfortable round children?). I would, and probably should, have never expected an answer to such a question from someone so young.
And, yes... she couldn't answer me.
She just found the whole question completely absurd.
Just as I was about to change topics and try to engage her in something that might be of more interest to a child her age, a quiet voice spoke up from the kitchen.
And the voice said: "What's the point of being born if you have no purpose in life?"
I looked at my Mum and my Mum looked at me and our mouths just fell open. We could not believe that a child would think so deeply about life. Childhood is all about having fun and not having a care in the world so to hear a child say something, quite frankly, so profound shocked us.
My only (feeble) response was to say to her that that was an incredibly smart thing to say, as she happily returned to what she was doing in the kitchen. That response was something I might expect from an adult, but even then, not all adults would even think so profoundly. So I struggled to fully respond back to her.
To have a child think and say something so insightful, so astute, so intelligent is remarkable.
To have a child of only 7 years of age (yes... she's younger than her sister!) respond to my question with such clarity, such vision, such wisdom is astonishing.
To know that this world is blessed by such a sensitive, insightful, thought-provoking child who will only carry and enhance those beautiful traits into adulthood, fills me with pure and absolute joy.
Today I stand an incredibly proud Auntie, knowing that I have a niece who will bring greatness, gentleness, compassion, understanding and vision to the world she will grow up in.