Why Would Anyone Live By A Volcano? { Kid Conversations }

 
 
critters and crayons, Photo Of Volcanic Rock From "Why Would Anyone Go On Vacation Near a Volcano?"
 
 

EVERY DAY, THERE IS NEWS THAT MAKES US GASP.

 

EVERY DAY, THERE IS NEWS THAT MAKES US SAD.

 

AND, EVERY DAY, WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE,

 

I FIND HOPE IN SIMPLE KID CONVERSATIONS.

 

My children are not unique in the way that they can turn DNA-infused maternal worry into comforting hope that THEY/WE/THE PLANET will be okay.
 
In the elfin voices of children, we hear the barebones logic of kindness.
 
I was reminded by our nearly seven year old daughter of this in a bedtime conversation as we read another chapter from The Magic Tree House Series , this time from Book #13, Vacation Under The Volcano.
 
By Chapter 3, the kids were introduced to the concept of The Gladiators, a strong, soldierly-looking group of men, who were fighters bound by ankle-chains.
 
Our daughter asked,
 

“WHY?  Why would such strong men have chains?  Did they do something wrong?”

 
I explained they had not.  I tried to break it down for them as succinctly as I could so they could understand the concept.

  • These days, if we see people in physical chains, it would normally be for prisoners in jail.
  • The chains would be there to protect others, and to keep them from escaping.
  • But, we are lucky to live in a time where most people in the world understand that people should not be treated like prisoners in chains if they have done nothing wrong.
  • The word for those people is “SLAVE”.
  • And, all around the world, and throughout history, many people had slaves.
  • Slaves were owned by other people.
  • In the case of the gladiators in Roman times, they were slaves who were owned by people who made them fight.
  • But, other slaves had to do other types of work, and it was a hard life.
  • People were not free.
  • And, if your parents were slaves owned by someone, the children were often born as slaves.

 
Our kids, 5 and 7 years old, seemed genuinely horrified.
 
Our daughter shouted,
 

“I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT!!!!!”

And, this made me a very happy Mom.  But, she kept on.
 
She said,
 

IT MAKES NO SENSE!   A HUMAN SHOULD NEVER OWN ANOTHER HUMAN LIKE A PET!  

AFTER ALL, THEY ARE THE SAME SPECIES!”

 

Our son gave his ardent support by adding that it was true!

 

“HUMANS ARE NOT THE SAME SPECIES AS CROCODILES!”

 

{You’d have to have been following this blog for some time to understand why that crocodilian reference makes complete sense.….}

 
The conversation morphed from discussion of why it was not right to own humans into another very salient topic:
 
 

“MOM?  WHY WOULD PEOPLE GO ON VACATION TO A PLACE WITH A VOLCANO?!?!”

 

This question arose because Chapter 2 of the book indicated that Pompei, Italy was a place where ancient Romans would visit on vacation.

 

The kids were serious when they asked the question of why anyone would visit a place for fun knowing that a volcano was right in the middle of it.

 

Our daughter said,

 

“It just seems….UNSAFE.”

 
I’ve never lived near a volcano but know a lot of folks who have lived in Hawaii.
 
Perhaps, one of them might be better equipped at explaining their reasons for choosing to do that to our daughter.
 
I was thinking that there must be some science on our side now-  seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs that gave enough forewarning to make millions of people feel safe, but I thought using “Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs” in a sentence might harm my credibility, even in the eyes of these kids.
 
So, I thought about how to explain why millions of people live in, around, and on active volcanoes, by choice.
 
All I could recall about living near volcanoes in my youth was the observation of the panicked dispersal of former Subic Bay High School students to other high schools throughout the Fareast after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in the Philippines.
 
Some of the students came to our high school in Seoul, Korea and they brought with them, the awesome footage of the aftermath.
 
The images showed a thorough destruction that laid deceptively beautiful sheets of chalky basalt in its cooled-magma wake.
 
(The other short-sighted downer for my then-high-school-self was that the volcanic eruption seemed to send some of the best Subic Bay athletes on the Girls’ basketball team to rival Fareast Tournament schools in Okinawa, Japan, and Guam.)
 
I chose not to relay that example to the kids to explain why it’s safe to live, or even better, to emplace an entire military base and billions of dollars in sensitive military assets, near an active volcano, which totally exploded.  
 
Maybe, folks just needed one of those seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs, so a more geothermally-stagnant location could have been chosen…
 
Oh, wait! I remembered, there might be another story to tell.  Her Papa, my dad, actually gave the kids a rock this past Christmas that he picked up on his own visit to Pompei.  It’s a piece of pumice from one of Mt. Vesuvius’ many eruptions.
 
The very reason their Papa visited the city was to see the recovered ruins that had been unearthed after having been completely covered in volcanic ash in 79 A.D., that were only discovered in 1748 B.C by a survey engineer.  
 
This didn’t seem to support an answer about why anyone should go on vacation or live in a place with a volcano considering the mass death and destruction that has cyclically ensued over Mt. Vesuvius’ lifetime. But, it appeared that Papa was lucky that he made it home, especially since he had no special early warning Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs.
 
So, I just agreed with her.  She appeared to be right on, again.
 
We finished the chapter, gave Goodnight Kisses, and as I prepared to flip out the light, I asked the kids one last question.
 

“You know, guys….We’re leaving Laredo soon.  
  What place, here, are you going to miss the most?”

 
I figured I’d hear “The Imaginarium!” or “The Science Center!” or the name of some park.   But, instead, I heard something even more special and profound.
 

“WELL?  
  What I’m gonna miss the most is not really a place…..
  Actually….It’s actually the people here.  

I’m gonna miss my friends the most.”

 

And, for another moment, I had to stop and think about our conversation, again.

 

When you spend a lot of time moving in your life, “Friendship” BECOMES A Place.

It turns into a proper noun, entitled to capitalization,
with all the grammatical rights of any fixed city on a map.

 
So, I answered….
 

“Me, Too, Kiddo.  

My Friends Are The Place I’m Gonna Miss The Most, Too.”

 
 

The Simplest Things Can Make Us Happy And Hopeful.

 

There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Gasp.

 

BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Laugh.

 

There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Sad.

 

BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Leaves Us In Awe.

 
 

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE BRILLIANCE OF A CHILD TO REMIND US THAT THINGS ARE GONNA BE ALRIGHT.

 
 

And, If The Brilliance Fails To Inspire You, Just Follow The Unbridled Laughter….

 
 

 
 

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8 Responses to Why Would Anyone Live By A Volcano? { Kid Conversations }

  1. Hi friend! Hope you are doing well with the move. I love those kiddo conversations. Now back at work basically full time, I am having a rough time without all those mini pick me ups during the day. Kids (your own) can be annoying, but they make up for it in spades with their infinite wisdom and kindness. You gotta love ‘em.

    • Rolando- It has been such a pleasure getting to know you! You have been such a supporter of Critters And Crayons and the local community. We are really going to miss you, too! But, the beauty of social media is that we are truly just one status away from connecting. And, that is wonderful! :)

  2. Tricia & Grandbaby, I must admit that I kept one eye on ruins and one eye on the volcano the whole time I was there…..It was an amazing place, and to think – less than half of the city has been exposed. What was most incredible to me was the engineering wonders within the city residential area, the stone-laid roads, fresh and waste water routing underground, bath houses and cooking areas still intact. Their understanding of mathematics & engineering was key to the city’s architectural design and function – and to think it was all done by hand! Granddaughter, with a watchful eye on the Mt.Vesuvius, you should visit too! The last eruption was 1944, so you are good to go til say……the next 79AD that comes up. Love Pa Pa

  3. Friends erupt, too. Ha, ha! Awe, that’s so sweet – friendships are a special place. By the way, neither of my boys came away with anything reading the Magic Treehouse books.

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