The Explainer may not have the answer, but She has an answer.

Jackson (at the Cabrillo Bathhouse, eating french fries): "Who made this place?"

Me: "It's been here for a long time, people built it before you were born, and before I was born, and before Daddy was born, and before Grandma was born."

Jackson: "But now we're big!"

Me: "Yes! And it's your birthday. What are you going to tell people when they ask how old you are?"

Jackson (by rote): "Three in June."

(Argument ensues on the superfluity of the phrase "in June." The first person to start crying wins.)

Jackson (wiping his eyes on his sleeve, returning to topic): "Who made the sand?"

Me: "Uh, the ocean made the sand! There used to be a lot of big rocks here a long time ago, and the water washed against the rocks for years and years until the rocks broke up into little tiny pieces of sand, and now it's the beach."

Jackson (casually yet doggedly trying to undermine The Explainer's credibility by finding a crack in her intellectual edifice): "What's under the sand?"

Me: "Hot lava."

Jackson: "Hot lava?"

Me: "If you dig deep enough you'll hit hot lava."

(This appears to be absolutely unbelievable, even coming from the normally reliable Explainer.)

Jackson (pointing to some boys digging a pit in the sand): "They're digging for lava?"

Me: "They'll be sorry when that shovel melts in their hands."

Jackson: ". . ."

Me: "Finish your hot dog."

Jackson (rallying, trying yet again to stump The Explainer): "Who made the fish?"

Me: "The FISH made the fish. A daddy fish and a mommy fish make a baby fish. Just like Daddy and me made you. All the fish have mommies and daddies and grandmas and grandpas all the way back for a jillion years."

(This is almost completely incomprehensible, and great effort is required to come up with an even stiffer challenge for The Explainer.)

Jackson: "Who made the ocean?"

Me: "Uh -- look! There's a sea lion!"

Jackson: "Where?"

Me: "You missed it. Who wants a milk shake?"

Later in the day, The Explainer goes head to head with The Dismisser

Jack (walking into the bathroom after I've been in the shower for ten minutes): "Leave some for the fish!"

Me: "Oh! God I love hot water." (Turning off faucet, grabbing towel, etc.) "You know, at the magazine we were always doing these stories about how you should brush your skin and how at the end of your shower you should turn off the hot water and take this big blast of cold water, how it would drive all your blood deep into your body . . ."

Jack: "Blow me."

Me: ". . . and how that would nourish your inner organs . . ."

Jack: "Blow my inner organs."