Parenting is a series of hairpin curves, designed to keep you awake at the wheel.
Aaron is cracking us up with his increasing command of the English language, or at least his version of it. We had salmon for dinner the other night, which progressed into a discussion about fish, and of course into a dinner-table singing of the classic "Slippery Fish" song. I'd never heard this song before Meredith started preschool at "Penny School". It quickly became a favourite of hers, and is clearly fast becoming a favourite of Aaron's. For the uninitiated, the song goes:
"Slippery fish, slippery fish, swimming in the water. Slippery fish, slippery fish, gulp, gulp gulp! Oh no, he's been eaten by a......." and then you add in a bigger, and bigger and bigger fish. So the slippery fish gets eaten by a tuna fish (or salmon fish, if you're having dinner at our house), then the tuna fish gets eaten by a great white shark, and the great white shark gets eaten by a humongous whale. Up until now, I thought Aaron's favourite part was the slapping of the hands together like the gaping maw of a sea creature, eating a smaller sea creature. I'd completely forgotten about the bit of potty humour at the end of the song.
So Monday night Meredith, Aaron and I are singing slippery fish for Daddy, who has been living under a rock and had never heard the song before. We finished, or so I thought. A moment or two later, Aaron dissolves into laughter. He's cracking himself up. And through his giggles, I hear him saying in a funny bass voice, "Burp. S'cuse me!" Over and over again. We were all laughing watching him laugh. More infectious than the swine flu in a pediatrician's waiting room.
How could I forget that the song ends with a burp from the humongous whale? A whole family sitting together around the table giggling uncontrollably is one of the most pleasant turns in the road I've seen in a long time.
Fast forward to tonight. I took Meredith to her piano lesson, and was helping her buckle her carseat before we headed back home. I guess because I was standing on the road while buckling her, she asked what would happen if I got smucked by a car. As in, what would she do if I was laying helpless on the road.
In all attempts to remain calm, I told her she should push the red button on the On-Star console in our car. Never mind that our On-Star subscription expires this month. Or wait in the car and shout for help and a friendly person would come to help. So then she suggested she could also get out of the car and walk down the sidewalk looking for help. Or go to her piano teacher's house to ask her to help. Or walk home from her piano teacher's to our house and ask Daddy, or the neighbour boy's mom or dad for help. "But would it be dark by the time I walked back Mommy?"
After vowing to watch very carefully for traffic while buckling her up, I thought we'd laid this question to rest. As we pulled into the garage though, she asked "If you got smucked by a car and died to Heaven Mommy, would Daddy get married again?"
Seriously. How does a five-year-old get that?
It was like taking a corner blind. I had no idea which possible answer I could give would be the one that would reassure her enough in the right direction. I swerved towards "Well he might, and he might not sweetie. Sometimes people don't get married again." Apparently this was a wrong turn. Her eyes welled up and she said "But who would be my mommy then?"
And my heart shattered into 89 billion tiny little pieces at the thought of this sweet, precocious, sensitive child in the world without a mommy. Without this mommy.
So I answered the best answer I could think of and prayed for strength. "I'll always be your mommy in your heart, Meredith." A friend gave me this suggestion some months ago when Meredith was asking about death. And then added "But let's do everything we can to be safe to make sure that problem never happens."
And off she went to eat a handful of raspberries and get ready for bed. Hairpin curve, indeed.