Mommyblogging: Not in the user manual

The other day. Driving to football practice.

Son: “You’ll pick me up right?”

Me: “Of course.”

Son: “You won’t forget?”

Me: “Of course not. I would never not be there.”

Son: “Why not?”

Me: “Because I’d never leave you.” (please know that I know how completely wrong it is of me to promise something to my son that the delivery of which I might not have complete control over)

Son: “You mean, you won’t leave me until the end.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Son: “You know. The end.”

Me: [internally] “Eff.” [verbally] “What do you mean ‘the end?'”

Son: “You know.”

Me: “What?”

Son: “When you get very old and die. Then you’ll leave me.”

Me: “Uh. Right. But that is a very very very long way away, so you don’t need to worry about that.”

Son: “And someday when you die and Daddy dies and sis dies and I die, we’ll all be together again.”

Me: “LOOK! A FLYING POLKA-DOTTED ELEPHANT!”

I have discovered that the whole death thing is nowhere to be found in the user manual they give you when you have kids.

Come to think of it, there IS no user manual.

Someone ought to fix that.

Please include a chapter called, ‘Things to say to distract your inquisitive child as you drive past a cemetery.”





20 Comments

  1. MrsGJG
    October 28, 2010 10:09 am

    Seriously! Ohhh I have so been there. Hell, I am there.



  2. Jill
    October 28, 2010 10:09 am

    Re: the manual…

    I’ve told my oldest daughter time and time again when she reminds me how “you didn’t do that with me!” that she didn’t come with a manual, she was my “practice” child :)



  3. Ms Redd
    October 28, 2010 10:16 am

    It actually was a sweet conversation with your son. Thank you for sharing.



  4. bucdaddy
    October 28, 2010 10:18 am

    It’s Halloween weekend, and Halloween is all about being dead. So if you’re not going to talk with your kids about the possibility, however remote, that you, dad, sis and the football player could someday all be incinerated in a massive fireball in a 37-car pileup on the parkway that includes several fully loaded gasoline tankers and one or two chocked up with extremely hazardous waste, while any survivors might be — MIGHT be! — immediately eaten by the big cats that contemporaneously with the 37-car pileup escaped from their Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey hauler while headed for the CONSOL Center, and that THOSE disembowled but somehow still surviving survivors would then be forced to watch the TV weather people make a massive storm-of-the-century deal out of a brief rain shower — the HORROR! — on Halloween weekend, then YOU tell me when the time is right?



  5. Shannon
    October 28, 2010 10:26 am

    maybe this is why my parents always told me i had to hold my breath as we drove past cemeteries.



  6. Larry
    October 28, 2010 10:27 am

    Umm… Ginny? You’ve already shared with us that you’re Christian, and even given us the name of your parish community. The answer is already there, even if it’s a difficult discussion.

    Your son already has the answer — he handed it to you on a silver platter. He was just looking to you, as one of the adults he trusts most, to confirm what he’s been being taught. The response, of course, is “yes”. The discussion of what happens if we get the time-line wrong can be deferred, but the general “here’s what happens” thing isn’t that difficult, is it? Is it…?



  7. Monty
    October 28, 2010 10:32 am

    I drove by a cemetary with my 6-year old this summer, and he saw his name on a tombstone (his first name was someone else’s last) and asked if we made that spot for him. I said no and drove straight to a candy store.



  8. red pen mama
    October 28, 2010 11:00 am

    Totally just had this conversation with my older daughter. I do think some Halloween imagery kicked it off, plus we’ve lost a couple of family members (and a friend’s dog) recently. I would have appreciated a heads up on the existential crises starting early.

    I think I’m going to tell my girls @bucdaddy’s bedtime story tonight. That should ensure plenty of middle-of-the-night visits.



  9. CC
    October 28, 2010 11:15 am

    Interesting, bucdaddy, interesting.

    Anyway,my 6 year old has broached this subject and I hate it. The last thing in the world you want is this type of thought to even enter their mind at that age. And I do the same thing when my late seventies parents start telling me they have updated their will, or picked their casket, or purchased their plot. I hate it and just change the subject. I guess I am sticking my head in the sand but it seems to be working for me so far.



  10. tw
    October 28, 2010 11:28 am

    And this is just the beginning Ginny! My girls started with that question, then it went to, “Is the world going to end in 2012 and how do you know?” (damn that stupid movie), then just recently a question about, “How do you KNOW the people who wrote the Bible weren’t lying and making it all up?”….I have twin girls (age 9) and as one is asking these questions the other one is saying, “Stop – you’re making my head hurt!” … My thoughts exactly. :)



  11. MN
    October 28, 2010 11:48 am

    @larry:
    Yup!

    Kids will start conversations like this out of the blue and they want you, as the parent, to be sure of your answer. Use it as an opportunity to search your soul so you can reassure them!



  12. Pa-pop
    October 28, 2010 12:05 pm

    When we were in the third or fourth grade, my cousin made a comment in a catechism class that I still recall over 45 years later. I guess it was during a discussion of Heaven and the afterlife, and he told the priest who was visiting our class that morning that he would like to die when his parents died. I’m sure my cousin was, among other things, addressing that sense of abandonment that all children fear. And, interestingly, this idea was broached by a kid who came from a long line of funeral directors. He was no stranger to the circumstances of death.

    It’s funny I don’t remember Father’s answer to my cousin’s comment. My own intense, shared feeling upon hearing what my cousin said probably blotted out whatever was said next, but I’m sure Father did the best he could to offer hope and comfort to a group of fourth graders. What still strikes me today is this irony: My cousin was killed in a car accident at the age of 27, many years before his parents would die. Turned out he would be waiting for them.

    When a child brings up the subject, just do the best you can do. Our instincts usually serve us well in the absence of a manual.



  13. dash66
    October 28, 2010 12:47 pm

    I have to thank you Ginny for posts like this about your kids. It makes me realize that being 40+ with no kids isn’t all that bad! LOL

    Then again, with my strange sense of humor, if I did have kids and they said “When you get very old and die. Then you’ll leave me.” I’d probably reply “What makes you think I’ll let you live that long!” :p



  14. angelgirl
    October 28, 2010 12:58 pm

    My kids have asked the same thing — and you certainly can’t promise “you’ll never leave him”.. because that is something none of us can control. You can reassure him that he doesn’t need to worry about dying… It’s a time to offer comfort – to give a hug. To ask what made him think of that question. It’s a time to remind him that God’s in control… and that God’s word tells us that HE knows the number of our days… and that HE will always take care of us. Even if we aren’t alive here — that because we KNOW JESUS means that this life isn’t the end. God’s not asking us to worry… but to trust HIM – BELIEVE and to know that WE WILL be together again… IF we know JESUS!

    The lack of manual is also where prayer also comes into play… prayer for wisdom to answer the questions that come “out of the blue”… simply… according to their age/ability to comprehend… and with truth.



  15. Geis
    October 28, 2010 2:30 pm

    I can say that I never had those particular questions posed to me because my daughter grew up in her great-grandfather’s house. His age made mortality quite a real thing and we never held back in explaining what was going on and never filled her head with obfuscations and mythologies. She might not have understood everything we explained to her but we never lied to her.

    When her great-grandfather did finally died, she grieved. He was gone. She moved on.



  16. Angry Mongo
    October 28, 2010 2:48 pm

    @ bucdaddy:

    “So if you’re not going to talk with your kids about the possibility, however remote, that you, dad, sis and the football player could someday all be incinerated in a massive fireball in a 37-car pileup on the parkway that includes several fully loaded gasoline tankers and one or two chocked up with extremely hazardous waste, while any survivors might be — MIGHT be! — immediately eaten by the big cats that contemporaneously with the 37-car pileup escaped from their Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey hauler while headed for the CONSOL Center, and that THOSE disembowled but somehow still surviving survivors would then be forced to watch the TV weather people make a massive storm-of-the-century deal out of a brief rain shower — the HORROR! — on Halloween weekend, then YOU tell me when the time is right?”

    Obviously, when Jamie Dixon is no longer around. He’d totally save us all.



  17. Angry Mongo
    October 28, 2010 2:53 pm

    On topic, this time.

    My wife’s mother died this April and on the way to Shadyside to say goodbye we had to break the news to our three year old who was very close with her. My wife did all the talking on this one while I drove…

    My Wife: “Now, honey, we have to go say goodbye to Grammy.”

    My Kid: “Why?”

    My Wife: “Because she has a boo boo that won’t get better and she’s going to die. She’s going to go live with Jesus in heaven.”

    My Kid: “Is Jesus a nice guy?”

    My Wife: “Oh yes, honey. Jesus is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.”

    My Kid: “Well good. Because if he’s not, I’m going to kick him right in the balls.”

    You try to drive through Oakland while crying and laughing at the same time after that.



  18. Dan (Not On-a-ROT-toe)
    October 28, 2010 3:19 pm

    And Angry Mongo for the win!



  19. SusanV
    October 29, 2010 7:53 am

    Awe! What a sweetie! Those kinds of inquisitions are so uncomfortable!