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Girl Had 50 Questions for Father, but didn't want Answers

An episode of the This American Life podcast explored the touching relationship of a single dad, Matt Salyer, and his daughter, Rosie. When she was nine-years-old, Rosie gave her dad a list of 50 perplexing questions about life, like Where do we go when we die? Or why is there a heaven and hell? What is love? And what is the meaning of life?

Being a dutiful dad, Matt set out to write detailed answers for all of those questions. But as the podcast episode progressed, we learn that Rosie wasn't really looking for answers; she just needed her dad.

The podcast host says: "It all started when Rosie first moved to New York City. Then her grandpa, who she was really close to, died. At the same time, she started at a new school, where the kids either ignored or bullied her, and she felt lost. One day, she came home from school and decided she needed to do something about it. So she wrote the questions." Rosie explains to the host,

I was lonely. And I felt a little sad that nobody had really stepped out to say, "Oh, hey, It's gonna be OK. I'll be your friend." So that's when I really, really needed somebody to talk to. That's really why I felt like, oh, this is my dad. He's a really important person. I love him very much. I really want to become closer with him. I wish there was something that I could do to make us closer.

The host asks, "Did you feel like your dad wasn't paying enough attention to you?"

Rosie: "Yeah, a little bit. Or not a little bit. Yeah."

Host: "What was he doing instead?"

Rosie: "He was writing papers on his computer. And I knew at the time how important it was, but part of me still wished that—like, put down all the screens. Put down everything else and just talk. So I wrote all the questions down."

On the podcast we then hear Matt say, "I talked to you all the time." But Rosie responds:

Yeah, but to me, it's not really the same thing. So a conversation and talking are completely different things. Talking could be a range from, "Oh, hey, what's up?" And conversation is you're deep in thought and you're looking, and you're making eye contact, and you're really enjoying the presence of somebody else.

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