The recycle grandpas watched me carefully to make certain I did not take more than my fair share. After I took off, I suspect a small scuffle broke out over the juicer I left behind. Those guys looked spry. Whole fruits must be in their diets!
Tyoma came home very grumpy today, of course, he had a fever. Have you every been in an irritable pissy mood and all you wanted to do was argue or bitch about Bill O’Reilly ? That was him.
He had serious stuff on his mind.
Out of the blue he said, “Why do we have to die?”
After I picked my jaw off the floor I said,
“It’s part of the circle of life, we are born and then we die.” (thank you Land Before Time).
Thus our conversation continued:
T: “No but, why do we die??”
M: “Uhm. Well, when we get older, our bodies wear out.”
T: “When will I die? When will my body wear out?”
M: “Ahh, uhm. Well, not for a long time.”
T: “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to wear out. When will I die?”
I did my parental homework long ago and studied how to answer these types questions. For now–keep it simple for four year olds.
M: “We don’t know when we will die.”
T: “But I want to know when I will die. How old will I be?”
M: “Very old, sweetheart, it”s a long way off.”
T: “How old will I be?”
M: “Oh, in your eighties.”
T: “No. Nineties. I’ll be a hundred and eleven when I die. And also, I will have 10 billion friends.”
M: “10 billion?”
T: “Uh-huh. Right now there are 8 billion people on earth and they are my friends. When I die it will be 10 billion.”
T: “When will my stomach wear out? Will I die when my stomach wears out?”
And so on. In the end I was unable to keep it simple, so I went on a monologue about how doctors will one day be able to fix people so you don’t have to die, but he lost interest. I think if I give him a body maintenance schedule, next time he asks I can avoid the question “What happens when you die?” And heaven help me if he learns that accidents can make you die…
ETA: Where there is smoke there is fire. One of Tyoma’s classmates died. She had a degenerative neurological condition and lost her fight. The staff and teachers were abuzz, speaking of the child’s passing and perhaps assuming little autistics couldn’t understand. I received a note about the death two days after it occurred. Little Tyoma questions were understandably sensitive and existential.