Friday, November 13, 2009

Difficult questions

"Grammie can't walk."

"No, she can't. That's why she uses a wheelchair."

"Oh. Really?"

"Yes. And her hands don't work very well either, which is why she has Lisa to take care of her."

"Oh." Pause for thought. "Lisa made me eggs."


I've been wondering for a long time how old K would be when she would start to see that my mother is different from her other grandmother, and different from most people. I guess the answer is four. We had the above conversation yesterday when I was telling her that my mother and her aide were arriving today. Several months ago, she drew a picture of my mother and included her wheelchair, but I wasn't sure if she realized what the wheelchair meant or if it was just something she saw as part of my mother.

We haven't gotten to why Grammie can't walk yet, and I'm not inclined to offer the information until she asks, hopefully not for a couple years. I'm not eager to introduce the idea that driving in a car can be very dangerous and leave you permanently injured. At her age, it could completely roll across her back, like when she asked what a building was today and I said, "It's a funeral home," which she shrugged off without a thought. Or it could result in terror of the car until she's old enough to be able to put fears and dangers in more perspective.

Was I ready for the conversation about what a funeral home is for? Kind of. I've actually been trying to introduce death a little bit, though I'm not going to push it until she starts asking questions on her own. But another thing I've been waiting for is when she starts asking why she has one grandfather she can spend time with and another that she only sees in pictures. When we look at pictures, I always point my father out to her and tell her who he is, but while she knows him, she hasn't asked yet about where he is.

I know a lot of parents get nervous about the idea of the sex talk, but it never bothered me. I brought a couple books home when I got pregnant, and have used diaper changes as an opportunity for basic anatomy lessons. Right now, it's just anatomy. It's definitely nothing compared to some of the conversations I know we'll be having over the next few years about some of the other facts of life, and death.

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