“Mom, is Grandmother gonna die?”
I never cease to be amazed at the depth of my four-year-old. Geez, Kiddo.
I’m furious with my mom. She knew I was reluctant to take my kids to visit my grandmother in the nursing home, but I caved under her relentless pressure. I was prepared to have this conversation, but I didn’t think it would take place in the nursing home courtyard IMMEDIATELY following the visit.
“Well, Honey, everyone dies eventually.”
“Like Pa?” referring to my father-in-law.
“Yes, like Pa.” Sweet Jesus, let this conversation end. But no, this is Piers, my ultra-deep and sensitive child. We continue.
“Yes, Granddaddy also died.”
“Like your Dad died?” Oh good heavens, please don’t let him ask me HOW my father died. I’m SO not ready for that conversation. I’ll get there. I promise. I just need to buy some time.
“Yes, Piers, like my dad died.”
“Oh.” I think he’s done with the questions – at least for now.
“Were you sad when your daddy died?” Nope, he’s still going.
“Yes, I was sad. What do you think you want for dinner?”
“Mom, when are you gonna die?” STILL. GOING. I silently curse my mother. I knew this visit would send my sweet, sensitive child into an emotional tailspin, but when has she ever given a damn about anyone’s emotional well-being!?
“Honey, we’re all going to die, and it’s okay. You can’t worry about death. I’m young and healthy and most likely have lots of years ahead of me. Now please, let’s talk about dinner. I am starving. How ’bout you?”
“But Mom, I don’t want you to die.” MAKE. IT. STOP.
“I’m not dead.” My three year old joins the conversation. Thank you, Wallace, and WHERE have you been for the last ten minutes?!!
“Nope! We are all alive and well. Isn’t this a glorious day? Now, WHERE are we going for dinner?”
I’ve managed to silence my inquisitive child. I’m relieved but now feel terribly guilty. I detest these conversations. I also vowed when I became a parent that I would do everything in my power to encourage and answer (in an age-appropriate manner) my children’s questions, regardless of how uncomfortable they made me.
And I’ve done just that. In the last four years I’ve said the word vagina more times than I ever thought humanly possible. The word penis and I, well, don’t even get me started on how often it crosses my lips. And to my husband’s recent dismay, our boys are VERY comfortable using these lovely private anatomy words as well.
Wallace recently shouted in an unusually crowded Lowe’s men’s room, “Daddy, I like your penis. It’s really big. Do you like your big penis, Dad?” My poor husband was mortified, to say the least.
“Look at it this way, Hon,” I sympathetically offered, “at least he said it was big. For whatever reason, LOTS of men would have secretly gloated.”
“I don’t think he was giving me a compliment. He just meant it was big compared to his.”
Sorry, Dear. No sympathy on this one. I’ve answered worse questions in the middle of the grocery line.
“Mom, look! That lady has volcanos poking out of her shirt!! What if they explode??”
“They’re not going to explode,” I frantically whisper.
“But Mom, why don’t you have volcanoes?” He’s getting louder and more demanding. WHY is this line not moving? Keep breathing, I silently tell myself, as I wrestle a bag of M&M’s from my other kid.
“Remember, people come in all shapes and sizes. We’re almost done, and we can talk about it IN THE CAR,” I emphatically reiterate.
“Why do girls have vaginas?”
It’s never ending. As a stay-home mom, I can one up my husband all day long. His Lowe’s penis story is NOTHING.
The point is, I can talk up a storm about private parts, sex, you name it. Heck, I have friends who’ve nominated me to teach their kids about the birds and the bees. Bring it on!
Sex? That’s easy. It’s these heavy questions about death that throw me for a loop, particularly the ones that involve my father.
It comes down to this: I don’t think my father’s death will ever make sense to me. At this point, I can accept this for myself. I just wish I had easier answers for my precious babies.