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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Make up, Make believe and Hard Questions

I've forgotten the challenges of life with a six year old. 

One minute, it's 'crazy gymnastics' - tumbling and twirling and running over a home made obstacle course designed with couch pillows and magazines and proclaiming, "I'm Gabby Douglas". 

The next minute, it's make believe. "You be the sick baby and I'll be your mommy who is a nurse. No, no, no....a DOCtor. Now, you have to cry and I'll say, "What's wrong?" and you just cry and I'll get a wet paper towel and.....Can we get the paper towel now?  I'll put the water on it....Can I, Nana? Mommy lets me do that.....And then, umm.....(wiggle, wiggle, wiggle) Okay, we'll start over again. First, you start to cry because you're the baby and I'm the Mommy, and a DOCtor and then......."

Unless, of course, if SpongeBob SquarePants is on television or anything from the Nickelodeon or Disney Chanel, then she's as quiet as a church mouse, all snuggled up on the couch with a blankie wrapped all round her while she sucks her thumb. 

She's just so stinkin' cute I can't stand it.

Last night, we were out walking the dogs - well, two of them, which is all I could manage with a six year old, Lenny and Theo. Then, we came back and switched off Lenny for CoCo and made the walk all over again. Theo thought it was a great deal.

In our travels, we came across a dead bird. Abbi stopped dead in her tracks and stared at it. "What's wrong with that bird?" she asked. 

"I'm pretty sure it's dead, Abbi."

She moved closer to it to get a better look. "Yup, it's dead, Nana," she said.

And then, she looked at me, her eyes brimming with tears and said, "He's really, really dead, Nana."

"Oh, my darling, I'm sorry," I said, adding, "He's not in any pain. He doesn't hurt anymore. His body is here, but he's not here anymore to feel anything."

"Where did he go?" she asked, wiping the tears from her eyes. I was amazed at her empathic abilities, which seemed pretty emotionally precocious to me. Then again, she's my granddaughter. Of course I think she's precocious. 

But, seriously - a six year old, weeping over a dead bird? How often do you see that? Her mother says that sometimes she'll start weeping over a song about friendship that reminds her of her favorite friend. I think that's pretty remarkable, actually.

"Well," I said, "When we die, we go back to God, who created every living thing. Well, our spirit goes back to God. Our bodies stay here, but our spirit goes back to God."

She thought about this for a long while. She had asked the same question a few nights before during dinner. I had said our 'souls' go to God, but her mother used the word 'spirit' which made sense to me, especially when talking about a bird.

It's a pretty typical question for kids that age. I had forgotten that.  So, I wasn't exactly prepared.

"Nana? Know what I think?"

"No, what?"

"I think, when we die, all of the colors that are in us come out and fill up the whole world. And then, I think the world gets so full of beautiful colors that some of it goes out and some new colors come in. Some colors go out and some colors come in. See?"

If I hadn't been prepared for the question, I was most certainly not ready for that answer.

"I think I do, sweetheart," I said after a few long minutes.

"Okay. Good. Now, let's keep walking. We have to go all the way to the lamp post and back."

"Right. Good call, Abbi."

We finished our walk and then she wanted to put make up on in my special magnifying lighted make up mirror and put on my jewelry and pretend to be a fairy princess, walking all around her realm in my scarfs and heels.

There's only so much reality and theology you should fit into one day. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself or you might do harm to others. See?

You should also laugh and giggle and wiggle. A lot. And, drink stuff from silly dinosaur sippy cups, sing your own songs with tunes and words you create yourself, and dress up and pretend to be somebody else because you still have lots of time to figure out who you really are, and take a rest now and again, zoning out on silly cartoon characters who live under the water but out of the water (I'm still trying to figure out how SpongeBob, Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, and Squidword Tentacles go sailing under water) and dance like you don't care if anyone is watching, and, even if they do, don't bother yourself with what anyone will think about your dance. 

Just dance. Do-dah-do. Gonna be okay. Just dance.

I learn so much from my grandchildren.


RevMama said...

Abbi has some of her grandmother in her. She's very wise for a 6-year-old. And what she said about the colors made me weep. What a beautiful way to express life and death.

And yes, we all need some time off from doing theology and some time to dress up and dance and be silly and walk the dogs and delight in the people we love.

And I have to say, our almost-6-year-old amazes us with her wisdom too.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

When I told Abbi's mother what she said, we both just looked at each other in astonishment. She's a handful but she's a great kid.

Fr. Chip, SF said...

Abbi is surely an exceptional child...with exceptional parenting. Kudos to Nana and Mom for a job well 'doong', not done ...yet.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Her mother is an incredible human being. So is her father, whose family is just terrific. I'm not at all surprised that both of her daughters are amazing.

Elaine C. said...

I spent last week with my niece and her family: her great husband, three and a half year old son, and 3 month old daughter. I was in heaven -- love the children -- just even standing around holding the baby ... oh I love them.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Such fun!