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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The darndest things

Two years and some change ago,  I was picking up my oldest from school.  

One of the teachers assigned to parking lot duty was very, very pregnant.  As we turned to say goodbye she asked how the baby was doing, in reference to his little brother.  

"He's fine," my oldest answered for me.   "How is your baby?"

The teacher laughed. 

"This one can't get into too much trouble yet," she beamed, gently patting her stomach.

My son shrugged.  

"Babies can die inside their mommies,"  he told her.  Then he handed me his Star Wars backpack and sprinted to the twisty slide.

I'm not sure how long she stood there, mouth agape.  I'm not sure if she told her husband about it, or if she avoided my son until winter break or if it crossed her mind ever again--but I know it must have scared her, if only briefly, to acknowledge this most horrific possibility. 

For a month after that I avoided eye contact, or maybe she did, or maybe both of us did.  It is certainly no goal of mine to walk around: a living, breathing symbol of death; terrorizing every expectant mother in my path for all eternity.  It's just that it was never a second thought of mine.   And every day, most every minute, I wish someone would have scared me too.

I have learned that a child's vocabulary develops much sooner than his tact.  On the way home, we discussed words and their power-- how they make others feel, how his teacher might have felt when he said what he did.  

"I'm sorry, mommy," he said.

I told him he didn't need to apologize; that it isn't his fault babies sometimes die inside their mommies, that he should always try to be honest and to share what he knows with others. 

And then I cried a little behind my sunglasses, because I wished there were someone else in the backseat with him.  And I wished that with regards to babies, he knew no more than the other five year olds on the playground. 

And then we got ice cream.