Son #1: Why is your knee sore?
Me: I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old.
Son #1: Like possum that fall out of tree and Nanny get shovel and put it in bin? That old?
Me: Um, no…
That was six months ago and it was the beginning of a phase of fascination with death and dying for my three year old son. He’s got the pecking order of death established now, in that it will be a “long, long, long, veeeeery long” time until he gets old and dies, but Great-Pop (who is somewhere in his late 80s, in a nursing home) is very old and will die long before he does.
Son #1 has a very enquiring mind, likes to mull things over and then check up on the details. I have learned that it is best to give a straight truth lest I get caught out in a later inquisition.
Son #1: Where are all the dinosaurs now?
Me: They died a long, long time ago.
Son #1: Why?
Me (in a whimsical mood, and worn down from having had this same conversation 50 times in the previous three days): Because they didn’t eat their vegetables. Now finish your dinner, please.
Son #1: But Nanny said it was because it got very very cold.
Of course, when I do try to explain things in a proper fashion I sometimes dig myself into a proverbial hole.
Son #1 had been campaigning to go back to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibition again (I blame George and his dinosaur from Peppa Pig). We came upon a rainy day with no specific plans so it sounded like an all-round great idea to meet Pa and wander around the exhibits at the Melbourne Museum.
Our breakfast conversation that day went like this:
Son #1: Why don’t the dinosaurs at the museum have any skin?
Me: Um, well, because they died a long time ago and
all their flesh rotted off [no – nightmare material] they decomposed over time [nope – word too big to explain] now they just have bones.
Son #1: Where did they find them?
Me: They were buried deep in the ground, and they dug them up, like when you bury things in your sandpit and find them again with your spade. [Yay! Safe ground!]
Son #1: Why were they deep in the ground?
Me: Because over many, many years lots and lots of dirt gets blown over them and they end up buried deep in the ground.
Son #1: Is that what happens when people die? Do we bury them in the ground too? [Looking distressed].
Yes, that’s exactly what happens, we put them in a box and bury them in the ground / burn them in a really really hot oven until they’re ashes and then bury them in the ground or scatter them somewhere. [NIGHTMARE ALERT!!!!] Well all the dinosaurs got dug up now, so they’re not in the ground anymore isn’t that lovely? Do you know what, I think it’s your day for the advent calendar Christmas chocolate!
Son #1: Chocolate! Yay!
Phew. Temporarily dodged a bullet there.
All was going well until I discovered a few dozen grey hairs on my right temple. I blame my recent illness. I mourned my lost youth and hair lustre, complained loudly to everyone who came within earshot over the next few days, then went to the supermarket, picked the most expensive box of hair dye promising full grey coverage (which was still about a tenth of the cost of a salon job) and acquired myself a new “natural” hair colour.
Little did I realise, there were little ears listening closely to my lamentations over my advanced age. And mulling it over.
Christmas Day dawned bright, exciting and full of childish wonder at how on earth Santa managed to get into our house (which has no chimney) to leave presents under the tree.
Christmas lunch was at my sister’s house. I was tasked with bringing the dessert, which I packed into an esky for transport.
Pudding time came, I took orders for brandy custard, ice-cream or both and headed in to assemble the dishes.
I took the ice-cream out of the freezer. I took the brandy custard out of the fridge. I took the pudding out of… “Um, honey, where did you unpack the pudding into?” I called to my husband. “I didn’t unpack the pudding. It wasn’t in the esky,” he replied. I searched frantically in all the bags. No pudding.
Yep, I came to Christmas and I forgot the pudding.
I cracked a few jokes about getting old and losing my faculties and we all had ice-cream and berries (thank you Nanny for bringing the berry salad!).
By the time we got home, Son #1 had mulled the events of the past week over in his mind and come up with this:
Son #1: Mum, are you getting grey hair and forgetting things because you are getting old?
Me: Ah, yes, I am getting older and that’s why I got grey hair, but people just forget things sometimes and that’s why I forgot the pudding today.
Son #1 (looking relieved): So we don’t need to bury you in the ground yet? You’re not going to die?
No, honey, you can put your shovel down, I won’t be defeated by a few grey hairs and a wayward pudding.