The Arrival of Aslı and Acar to the World…

Aslı and Acar are two children who do not yet know each other. Their ages are not the same, but it’s highly likely that Acar will catch up to Aslı and even surpass her after a while. Is it possible? Yes, it is.

Both Aslı’s and Acar’s coming into the world involved the roles of a woman and a man. Could it have been any different? Of course, why not? The responsibility for this ‘coming into the world’ event does not necessarily have to be on a man and a woman. What if I said it could also be two women, or two men, or even just one woman or one man… This is, of course, a fiction aiming to push the boundaries of imagination, not medicine.

To be honest, I have no idea how Acar (my three-month-old son) could have been brought into the world in a different way than we did, but Aslı is different… “How Does Rain Fall?” and “Where Did the Sun Go?” In my stories featuring the young character Aslı, her ‘arrival to the world’ has its own story, though not as anatomical as Acar’s. The issue of what parents facing questions about childbirth can do in this ‘helpless’ situation is debatable. There are views that say it’s best to explain everything clearly and straightforwardly. Children’s books prepared in this direction have received considerable interest in Western countries.

For experts who say that discussing the matter too early would frighten the child, a more acceptable solution might be to portray sexual intercourse as a natural extension of love that cannot be contained. The illustrations in books carrying this view are accordingly soft and cute.

I mentioned that Aslı is older than Acar. Acar cannot even speak yet, but Aslı is at an age where she can reason, ask questions; she walks, runs, rides her bike, can even take her umbrella and go out into the rain. But at the same time, she is at an age to explore her surroundings. She asks questions that adults have long forgotten: “Can a person catch the sun if they run very fast?” she asks.

Aslı’s name comes from a real Aslı. (Aslı’s name was taken from a real Aslı, but her eyebrows, eyes, and physique are entirely the creation of the illustrator, Huban Korman.) During the years I lived in Rumelihisarı, a real Aslı, who was the same age as the current Aslı, would often knock on my door with her brother. One day, out of the blue, she said, “I feel a fear inside me.” “Where did that fear come from now?” When I asked, she hesitated. I realized at that moment that I had asked something unusual. Or she had thought for the first time during that hesitation that fear was something ‘coming from somewhere.’ She turned her head towards the window and said with a strange joy, “From the window,” “my fears came from the window.”

Jean Piaget, in the section of his book “Language and Thought in the Child” dedicated to children’s questions, divides them into two stages. In the first stage, the child is curious about places and names, while in the second, they ask questions about time and reasons. While learning that “Why?” is the most frequently used question word, we also realize that this question is not always asked to understand cause and effect relationships, and its meaning varies with the child’s age. For example, Piaget’s experiments reveal that the “Why?” questions in the early years are more about seeking compassion than enlightenment. “There are questions that seem to demand an explanation of a causal relationship at first glance,” says Piaget, like the question of why trees have leaves. If this question had been asked by adults, the answers could be divided into two groups: those that explain the outcome (for example, ‘so they are less affected by the cold’, etc.) and those that explain the causality (‘because trees come from the family of leafy plants’ or ‘all plants have leaves’). Therefore, it is difficult to understand at first glance what kind of answer the child’s question is aimed at. Sometimes, it may just be a question expressing admiration and not expecting an answer. In this sense, the question asked by the child carries much more meaning than adults might think. A child asking why a tree has leaves might actually be trying to understand ‘who put the leaves on the tree.’ The question could also have been asked in terms of the usefulness of the tree to humans, for example. Why do trees have leaves? Because they look prettier that way, or so people can sit in their shade. Or it could have been asked directly about the tree itself, because the tree likes being leafy, seeking that answer.

From Piaget’s study compiling 7-year-old Del’s questions over ten months, 103 questions seeking causality emerged, with 88 related to nature, 22 to machines and man-made objects. Piaget further categorized the nature-related questions. Of these 81 causality questions, 26 were about inanimate (for adults) objects, 10 about plants, 29 about animals, and 16 about the human body.

Aslı’s questions cover the widest spectrum yet: nature. The trap of attempting to write stories to explain natural phenomena is falling into ready-made patterns and ending up in the textbook category. There are, undoubtedly, various methods to escape this, depending on the author. However, it turned out to be more feasible from a storytelling perspective to not explain or teach some things children would learn even if they don’t ask, rather than trying to explain and teach them. Indeed, in “Where Did the Sun Go,” Aslı indirectly gets an idea about where the sun actually goes, but the main story is merely an illustration of a dialogue built around the sun.

Piaget says, “When you delay your answer to the child’s question, you’ll see that he finds his own answer.” In this sense, Aslı finds her own answers. My role is to capture a segment of Aslı’s fantasies and turn it into text. Doesn’t every child write their own story with their questions? Aslı may be a fictional character, but she has her own challenging journey into the world, though not as tough as Acar’s…

Pembe Bağcık, Parents and Preschool Children Issues Magazine (1978) 3; 36-37