Buying The Farm
It never fails. I could be doing something really normal, like trying to get the knot out of a sneaker with my teeth when the owner of said sneaker would ask something totally off-topic like: "Mommy, am I going to die?"
A quick look tells me she's serious. Of course, it's serious. Children don't ask questions like that unless they are serious. This is a question about which this child has been thinking a great deal about lately and might even be the cause of the frequent nightmares she's been having. I wanted to give her a serious answer without scaring her, but it's hard to be serious when you have a dirty shoelace hanging out of your mouth.
Spitting out something that had been clinging to the shoelace, I regarded her innocent face and solemnly said, "Honey, everybody is going to die someday." The something was still in my mouth, so I spit again.
"I don't like that word, Mommy. It makes me so sad."
"I don't either, sweetheart." Spit. "Maybe we can use other words."
"How about 'kicked the bucket'?"
"I don't get it. Is there going to be a bucket in heaven?"
"Well," spit, "I don't know about that, but how about 'bought the farm'?"
"Wow! A farm? Maybe the bucket is there to feed the chickens. Mommy, do you need a drink of water?"
"Um," spit, "Yeah. I think whatever was on that shoelace was not supposed to be in anyone's mouth."
"What else is on the farm we're going to buy?"
I could see that visualizing a farm with a bunch of buckets in heaven was helping her to accept the inevitability of death, so I thought it couldn't hurt to continue on in that way.
"Well, I've always heard that when you go to heaven you swim with the fishes." Good gravy! What kind of a knot has this child made in this sneaker?
"Cool. Are there dolphins?"
"Dolphins in heaven? Hmmm. Interesting."
"What if I don't want to die, mom? If I talk to God, will he let me stay here?"
This girl is CEO material. When she doesn't like the status quo it's, "Who do I have to talk to?"
"Well, honey, I don't know." Spit, spit, spit-tooie. "But if I go to heaven, and you stay here forever, I think I would miss you."
"Yeah, I would miss you too. Can I take Baby with me?" Baby is her doll.
"I'll tell you what. Let's not start packing yet, for a day that is far, far away."
"Okay, but tell me what else is there."
"Well, I've heard about pushing up daisies and croaking."
"So there must be flowers and little froggies, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess so. I'll be happy if there are no shoelaces or heavenly slime to drag them in."
"I'm still scared."
"Listen to me, honey. It will happen to everyone, one day. So, you have a decision to make: You can either spend your whole life worrying about croaking or you can really live your life like the precious gift it is."
She thought about that for a moment and said, "Okay. Are my sneakers done? I want to go out and play."
You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.