It's not good to poop on someone, Daddy.
I was putting Ellie to bed recently, and she just randomly said, It's not good to poop on someone daddy. It's like the worst thing you could do.
Sounds about right, I said.
Then, we laughed pretty hard, and I love to hear her giggle when she knows she's made a good, funny comment.
Where'd you come up with that? I asked.
I was just thinking about it.
Is it because you spit at me when you were mad yesterday, and I said that spitting on someone was about the worst thing you could do?
Is it worse to poop on someone or spit on them?
(Me dying of laughter) Poop.
It's pretty bad to pee on someone right? That's the second worse thing?
Yes, or maybe vomit. But that's not on purpose usually so it's hard to be too mad if you get puked on. (Unless you're Lard Ass from Stephen King's The Body adapted into Stand by Me.)
Bedtime is easily the best time to hear what's going on in her head. She's a curious kid who never stops asking questions. Some of the topics we've covered in the last couple of nights are about our future trip to the moon. I don't know much about some of the super rich guys' personal lives who are financing all of the private space enterprises, but I'll bet they all have a little girl they've promised to get to the moon. Those girls may be 30, but their dad's have not stopped trying. It's too late for me to get an astrophysics degree so Richard Branson, Elon Musk, etc., I'm counting on you.
About two years ago there were a few deaths that happened in Ellie's orbit. I tried so long to not talk about it, but then our cat Samson died suddenly. He was old, but had been in seemingly perfect health just the day before. She really didn't have much to do with him, but we explained that he was being placed in a flower garden to help the flowers grow. It's true, or at least it better be. We paid extra for that. Anyway, over the last six months, she'll say, I love my whole family - Momma, Da da, Sam, Casey (our other cat). Guess who I love the most, Daddy?
Samson, because he died.
That's really sweet honey. We miss him don't we?
I miss Samson.
I don't know how to define her missing Samson. Their relationship was a little precarious. Samson had 15 years of sleeping on Alison's head interrupted by Ellie. I do know it's both sad and sweet. It leads to other questions, but instead of offering her potential solutions she has her own answers.
We just become dirt daddy?
Our bodies do.
Am I going to see Samson again?
No, but we can know even though he's not here he's bringing something beautiful and helping life.
Having talks with kids about death is the worst. I don't know how much she really understands, and I don't know how much I want her to understand. I also don't want to fill her mind with answers that have proof, but at the same time I don't want her to be overly scared of it either. The best place for it to be is just over your shoulder so you know it's there. It reminds you of the important things like love, laughter, and ice cream, and hopefully it will remind us to really enjoy those things.
This week she understood what a graveyard is. She knows people are there becoming dirt.
Lying in bed, going to sleep she asked, Where are you going to be buried?
I'm not sure. I haven't thought much about it.
I want to be buried with you and momma.
OK, but that's probably not for a long time.
I want to be buried beside momma.
No, I want to be put somewhere by both of you.
OK, sweetles, but let's just think about the good things now. We can be put in the ground together. We're all made of the same stuff, and you're made of me and mommy and everyone else who came before.
Today I picked her up as she was finishing a swim lesson at the JCC. I watched for a second from her classroom. I saw her struggle, holding her teacher's arm to get to the side. The struggle in her face hit my heart and the helplessness of it all washed over me, and I couldn't stop a tear from rolling out of my eye. I wanted her to not be scared ever, and her clinging to an arm that didn't belong to me broke me a little and when she got out and I came outside she got the biggest bear hug ever and I got a wet t-shirt.
I'm trying to raise kids who are OK with "I don't know." It's easy to hear what we want - we'll be in heaven together, or whatever people tell their kids to make everyone feel better, kids and parents alike. It's easier to believe something unbelievable than embracing what is really uncertain. I think it's going as well as it can. She doesn't seem to be afraid, but everything is new to kids and it's all met with a little wonder, or a little fear, or a little of both.
When Ellie asks these questions it's like a punch in the gut. Writing this and thinking about all of these things is a gnawing in my gut that can be put on a shelf for a time if I write about it and try to process it. Then, hopefully we can move on to the important questions that do have answers like pooping on someone is the worst thing that you can do.