black holes

My kids—like your kids, too—have become quite ingenious at evading chores and, even, bedtimes. When it comes to doing dishes or folding clothes, Ash will, at first, avoid the chore altogether. When that tactic fails, she will find either me or B and engage us in a philosophical or spiritual conversation of enormous depth. Sometimes it works, and her chores are successfully postponed or we end up doing the chore for her while she keeps us distracted with questions. Ren tries, too. His go-to tactic is something more guttural that involves throwing himself on the floor, flailing about, and whining loudly. When that fails—upon the threat of parental intervention—he will try another ploy, “Momma, I feel like I just need a hug.” We hug a lot. The chores still get done. But, Ren has been watching his sister and learning. 
     Tonight, it wasn’t a chore he was trying to evade, it was bedtime. After a bit of a battle, in which I was winning—if it still politically correct to use that word—Ren got out of bed and came to me, “Momma, can you please tell me how the Sun causes all the planets to rotate and spin about the Sun?”
    “Yes,” I said, and before I realized it, I had taken the bait. “It’s based on gravitons and gravity between any two objects. It’s dependent on the distance between the two objects and the masses of the two objects.” And, that was just the start of it. We launched into an entire discussion on the size of our sun, its life cycle and how it would eventually become a red giant, consume the earth and other planets, burn up, explode into a nebula, become a white dwarf and then a black dwarf.
    “So it will become a black hole? Black holes are bad,” he said.
    “Black holes are not bad, it’s simply part of the life cycle of a star. But our sun is not large enough to become a black hole. The most it will do is become a black dwarf, a dead sun that simply exists in space.”
    “But I don’t want that to happen,” he said with tears in his eyes.
    “By the time that happens, there will no longer be a planet earth.”
    “What about the people?”
    “They will be living somewhere else.”
    “Like heaven?”
    “Yeah, heaven.” I said.
    “I still don’t want our sun to die,” he said sorrowfully.
    “Our sun, as it exists now, still has about 5 million years of hydrogen left in its core to burn. After that, it will burn helium for over 100 million years as it expands to a red giant. As it is expanding, the sun will grow larger and larger until it consumes the planets in our solar system,” I explained.
    “So our sun won’t become a black hole? Cuz black holes are bad.”
    “Black holes aren’t bad, but if we were traveling in space in a space ship, we would do everything we could to avoid a black hole.  Just like snakes aren’t bad. They can be dangerous and poisonous, and we will do everything we can to avoid them,” I said glancing at the clock and realizing that our entire conversation--with galactic photos from the internet--just took 15 minutes. “Now, I think we have covered this topic completely. It’s time that the sun in your room goes dark. it’s time for you to get sucked into the black hole in your bed.”
    “Momma, can we talk about black holes?”
    “We can talk about black holes tomorrow. Give me a hug goodnight.”.
    He giggled and hugged me, “Alright, good night, Momma. Have fun being sucked up by the black hole in your room, too.”