Tonight, I cuddled with my two older kids [I’d cuddle with Michaela, but she’s still in a crib and that could be bad], during which time they had the chance to talk with me uninterrupted.
Shaya is fascinated by the stories of her birth and those of her siblings, so she usually asks me to tell her about that. Matthew doesn’t much care what we talk about, so we flit from topic to topic as fast as he can think of new questions.
Mostly, Matthew worries about getting equal time. Tonight, I was trying to say good night and go find some food and he informed me that Shaya had definitely gotten more time, so I needed to answer ‘just one more question.’
I answered that question and was getting ready to leave and he said, “Mom. Um, we only talked about babies. I want to talk about something different, I need to ask you just one more question, which is: Why do they put stones on the ground when people die and why do they bury them?” Which was actually two questions, but I swear he saves the most complicated question for last.
So, the conversation went a little like this [you’ll have to picture Matthew in the bottom bunk, me standing with my head down under the top bunk, leaning on my hands so my back doesn’t break and fall out of my body in protest… I’m trying to leave, but I can’t not answer, so I gave it my best shot…
Me: Well, it’s a marker put there to show where a person is buried, and it helps the people left behind to remember the person who died [actually, I stuttered and didn’t sound nearly that coherent, because in real life, I’m not coherent when I’m talking anymore].
Matthew: Why do they bury them?
Me: Well, they have to put them somewhere. A long time ago, when they put the bodies in the ground they decomposed and fertilized the ground [yes, I really did say that. Lame and gross, I know. More stuttering. Matt tuned me out about the time I said “rotted” instead of “decomposed” and asked another question].
Matthew: A lot of people have died, haven’t they?
Me: Yes, they have.
[At this point, I should tell you that my son is blond with big blue eyes, a short nose, and freckles. When he’s really serious, his eyes are the size of saucers, and when he gets emotional, his voice has a break in it that melts my heart every time he does it. It’s that breathy sounding crack you get when you’re holding back tears and trying to keep it together. Matt’s eyes were huge, and his voice cracked when he said the following.]
Matthew: And that is making me sad when I think about it. When you were driving the van earlier, I saw some stones and it made me sad. But then I saw some flowers, and that made me happier. I think people put flowers there so they won’t feel so sad.
But now I’m sad, and I think I’m starting to cry. I don’t want to, but I think I am. Yes. Good night.
And he rolls over and I am dismissed.
Matthew is five and will be starting Kindergarten next Friday. He delights me [as do all of my children]. This conversation is just one of many like it. I should really write these down more often.