It’s true what they say: Sometimes, kids say the darndest things. And sometimes, kids say something so profound us adults wonder how we didn’t think of it first. Such was the case for one California student, who recently answered a riddle posed by his teacher with an answer so existential, he promptly blew the Internet’s mind.
Bret Turner, a teacher from at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, California (and also, according to the Washington Post, “a musician and writer, sourdough baker and self-proclaimed ‘baseball statistics nut’”), decided to task his class with a simple, yet deep riddle one day: “I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I’m the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space.”
Honestly, even the most prolific riddle-solving adult would probably have to pause before answering that one. But the answer is (apparently) the letter “e” — which is in the words “e”verything,” “e”verywhere,” and “e”ternity” … as well as at the end of “time and space.” (I don’t know about you, but I definitely read ahead to get the answer on that one.)
But one of his more thoughtful 1st-graders had a different idea as to what the answer to the riddle was. One that’ll give you pause in a different way.
The student, according to Turner, guessed “death” — which is kind of amazing and prolific and such a mature response when you think about it, that it’s a wonder how a 1st-grader came up with it to begin with.
“The first guess from one of my first-graders was ‘death’ and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn’t want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter “’e’,” Turner wrote on Twitter. “Which just seemed so banal in the moment.”
Seriously, this kid is a damn genius. And it seem most of Twitter agrees with me there:
Turner’s tweet has since received a few hundred thousand likes and thousands of retweets, which caused the teacher to issue a follow-up tweet offering a few other answers his students gave, including, “‘NOT everything,’ ‘all stuff,’ ‘the end,’ and maybe my favorite, ‘nothingthing.'”
Turner adds that when he finally did reveal the answer to his puzzle, his students were, “largely unimpressed.”
As parents, we all wish our kids wind up with teachers who will push them to be bigger and better versions of themselves simply by being “them.” After all, teachers are the life lines we all need — they take time, dig in, and want the best for all kids — with little thanks (money) or praise to do it.
Educators like Turner clearly bring out the best in their students. And in return, their students clearly keep them on their toes. I’d say that’s win-win.