We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.
From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”
“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.
There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”
It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.
It all started innocently enough with a question. “Can I have a tortoise for Christmas?” he asked. “No” I said, “The cat will eat it, and if it survives I will be the one who ends up looking after it”. You would think that would be the end of it, but it was just the opening volley of his finely-honed “Wear you down with chatter until you agree to do something you don’t want to do, just to make him stop talking about it” battle plan.
He talked about nothing but tortoises for two days straight. He discussed cages he would get “..if he was someone who would eventually SOMEDAY be lucky enough to own a tortoise”. He gave discourses on the difference between Greek and Russian tortoises, and asked my advice on which kind he should get IF he ever got one. He researched tortoise ownership on the Internet and enlightened all of us as he discovered each new fact about heat lamps, ideal temperatures, feeding regimens, and growth rates. Every pronouncement was prefaced with the words “Mom, if I do get a tortoise…” Eventually our conversations began to go like this:
As we backed out of the driveway on our way to preschool this morning, my daughter asked “Mama, why is your mama dead?”
I swallowed, “Well, honey, she got really really sick. And her body just stopped working. The doctors and nurses couldn’t make her better. So now she’s living with the angels.”
“Why can’t the angels make her better?”
“Umm,” I thought. “Good question.”
“Well, when you are in Heaven with the angels, it’s not like living on earth. What lives on is your spirit and soul, your essence, the things that make you special. When you are with the angels you no longer need to heal a broken body. That is not what the angels are about.”
She was quiet for a few seconds. Then at the corner she asked a different question. I couldn’t understand her, so I stopped the car and turned around.
One of the advantages of being a Mom is that you are rarely forced to spend time in the bathroom alone. Not that the bathroom is such a lonely place, mind you, but I seem to have lots of company there lately. I tried locking the door, but that resulted in endless doorknob jiggling and knocking, and I ended up throwing back the shower curtain and walking, all sodden and drippy, across the bathroom floor to open the door. There is something about deliberately locking my child out that doesn’t work for me. I just can’t do it.
Such a scene played itself out just the other day. I returned, shivering, to my shower. My daughter and her best buddy, Floppy Dog, put the toilet seat cover down and took up their positions on their throne. Then the questions started.