Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Weight of the World

My sister-in-law and I were talking today about our almost-six and seven-year-olds and their minor preoccupations with their own and their parents' mortality. I recalled learning at some point that age seven is when children have a rather completed sense of self--a full awareness of themselves as discrete human beings separate from others, who will die someday, and an understanding of the permanence of death. So soon is that loss of innocence, it seems! Age seven. That means I've spent the last 31 years worrying.

Earlier in the afternoon I had taken the girls for some frozen yogurt. The Little One, nearing a peak of exhaustion, asked if we would be parking the car and walking to the yogurt place.

"Of course, silly!" I laughed. "We can't drive our car into the yogurt store!"

Luckily for them, and for my whine-weary ears, we found parking right in front.

But tonight, after I put the three-year-old to bed, I noticed that the first grader looked a little sad.

"What's up, kiddo? What are you thinking about?"

Her brow furrowed. "I just keep thinking about what if you DID drive the car into the yogurt place. Then the police would come and arrest you, and my sister and I would be all alone."


"Sweetie, I was JOKING about driving into the yogurt place! I wouldn't do that!"

"I know," she sighed. "It's just that if you ever get arrested, or die, we will be all by ourselves..."

I reminded her that, should I ever be arrested, there's always her dad, and her aunts and uncles, and her grandparents...

And then hopefully reassured her that the likelihood of my being arrested was slight. And that I would probably be released, anyway, pending my trial. Haha.

But it wasn't enough that I have been slightly sleepless lately, worrying about both rational and irrational things: now I had my daughter's worries to worry about, too.

I can't help thinking about the workings of that little mind in the back of the minivan, leaping from drive-in yogurt joke to Mom's Criminal Proceedings and concerns about the Welfare of the Children.

Sometimes it's serious business, being a kid.

No comments: