Monday, April 16, 2007

Just Kidding

This post over at Julia Hippogriffs' reminded me of the funniest joke Monkey ever came up with. She has come up with a few funny ones before, but this... This one was so good she used it again and again.

So what you need to know is that we speak a language other than English in the house. And in that language, "sweet" when applied to a kid has a heavy connotation of "edible," as in "you are so sweet, I could just eat you up," but a lot less cheesy.

So one day, must have been around November or so, when I was already pretty big but not yet enormous, Monkey decided to give me a hug, pretty much out of the blue. I love her hugs, so I told her that, and then I told her she was very sweet and she was putting herself at risk, 'cause I might just have to eat her. No, she says, you can't do that. Why not? And here is where she gets that look of wait till you hear this, and says: "Because you already ate the Little Brother."

We laughed, and then we made sure that she actually knew she was making a joke by rather lamely asking her if she really thought mommy ate the Little Brother. She looked at us like we were nuts and said that no, she was making a joke. So we told her it was very very funny. Of course that meant she had to keep using it. You'd think it would get old rather fast, but somehow it never did.

Until A died.

After that, the first time I joked about eating her, Monkey's face lit up, but only for a split second. I saw her lower her eyes to my stomach. And then she just said, no, don't do it. I don't tend to tell her she is edible as often as I used to now.

I hate that she had to do that. I hate that a friend had to explain to her particularly observant two and a half year old why Monkey isn't going to have a little brother just now. I hate that another friend's seven year old had taken to asking her whether the baby she was carrying was still alive. And that he asked whether what happened to A means anyone could've died before being born, even him? I hate that Monkey's best friend got introduced to the concept of death in such a rude manner, and that her mom has to keep explaining it to her because her four year old brain keeps looking for how this could mean anything other than what it means.

Actually, I don't know whether I have the energy to hate these things. Hate required energy, I think. They make me very sad, yes. But there is also another feeling mixed in, and I can't quite name it. It's not exactly guilt, but it does come with a sharp pang, like another reminder of how wide the circles of this thing go.

I know the only thing we can do now is make sure that Monkey comes out of this emotionally healthy. We are trying. But I wonder whether if/when I am sporting a big belly again she will let herself make the same joke. I hope so. And if she does, I will try not to cry.


Lori said...

My sons were 5 and 8 when Molly and Joseph died, so they were pretty aware of what had happened. My 8 year old was old enough to feel self-conscious about his reactions, and kept his emotions very under wraps. But in my subsequent pregnancy he would ask me after every doctor appointment, "Do they think she will make it?" Once I got past about 28 weeks he would ask me frequently, "If she were born now, could she survive?" It was pretty sad to have such a young boy so aware of how tenuous the beginning of life can be.

But I will also say that I believe my boys came through that time healthy and strong. They have an awareness I wish they didn't have to have, but in the long run it will probably only make them more compassionate young men. I hope so.

Julia said...

Thanks, Lori. That's what I keep telling myself-- they will all be better people because of this. IF we don't screw it up.

Anonymous said...

I am 40 years old and when I was 6 my mother went into labour prematurely with my brother - the fourth of four children. He died within an hour of birth. His name was Charles. My parents didn't talk about it. It was almost taboo until many years later when they finally placed a stone on his grave and publically acknowledged both his birth and his death. As an adult I am still struggling with the loss of that little boy that I so desperately wanted to be a sister to. I was picking a middle name for a boy if my last child had been a boy and completely broke down when I was trying to explain to my husband why the only name possible was Charles. My parents were very sad and I don't think they realized how much it affected us. As long as you realize that it does affect your child and talk about your loss and her loss and allow her to express her feelings I think she will "heal." Talking helps so much with so many things in life. I know we needed to talk.
Heather Ann