An Inconvenient Truth

Posted by: , September 24, 2008 in 12:09 pm

Every once in a while Benjamin asks Michael or I, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  There are a couple of ways one can look at this inquiry.  #1 He thinks we are a couple of lazy, good-for-naughts or #2 He believes we are still in our prime and able to choose a career that meets our desires.

I like #2.The truth is this:  we are middle-aged.  I turned thirty-six a few months ago.  I am pushing forty.  Michael likes to say, “Nah, you’re pushing 40 away.”  Isn’t he cute? 

So, anyway…this afternoon Benjamin asks, “Are you guys gonna die?”  “Yes,” I replied, sipping my soup.  To that he remarked, “I don’t want you to die.”  Me neither.  He continued, “Is Maw Maw?”  “Yes,” I said, adding, “everyone dies.”  To that statement, he solemnly asked, “Will I live here all alone?”

Poor little guy.

The thing is, I am afraid to let him believe that everyone grows up to be exactly what he or she wishes and that everyone lives to be 100.  Yet, I don’t want to be a harbinger of doom either.  So, I try to ride out these questions sensibly. 

As far as, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” goes, the truth is:  Ben’s mom.  I have a B.H. to teach Secondary English and a M.Ed. that qualifies me to teach at the college level. 

Do I want to?  Not really. 

I like this peaceful life.  I thoroughly enjoy home preschooling Benjamin.  Where else is he going to learn about busking during letter Bb week?  Likewise, where else would I be allowed to teach subjects that lie outside the “standards-based, no child left untested” box?  So, as he gets older I will be honest.  I earned a couple of degrees.  I worked for corporate America instead of finding a teaching job.  And when a corporate merger ousted me from the workforce just as Benjamin was due to be born…the Universe made its decision for me.  When I grew up, I became Ben’s mom.  I may have two unused degrees and a lot of student loan debt.  But, I’m pretty good at Trivial Pursuit.

As for dying, I do not intend to do so anytime soon.  But, in the meantime, I do make an effort to be honest about death.  Death happens, and sometimes it happens suddenly.  Last month, a co-worker of Michael’s lost his seemingly healthy thirty-six-year-old wife.  Her cause of death is still unknown.  She left behind two heartbroken little girls and a grieving husband.  We openly discussed the situation—hiding nothing from our three-year-old’s eager ears.  Facts are facts.

Although, I must admit to nurturing one falsehood related to death.  When discussing our family members who have passed over to the Other Side, Benjamin is often curious.  “Are there toys in Heaven?” he asks.  “Yes!  Of course,” I reply. 

Heaven is a 20-quart Rubbermaid tote filled with Legos.   



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