I want to share a conversation I had with my eight year old granddaughter. We’ve had many such interesting, and dare I say philosophical discussions, usually when we’re in the car and have no outside distractions.
“Poppa’s dead isn’t he?” she asked, catching me by surprise. (Poppa being her maternal grandfather who died before she was born.)
“Yes,” I answered, waiting to see where she was going with this.
"I never met him, did I?”
“No, he died before you were born, but he would have loved you very much,” I said.
“Where did he go when he died?”
Oh great, I thought; now we’re into it. How do I reply?
“Poppa went to heaven,” I answered, cautiously. Was this going to be reassuring, I wonder? Is she worried about death and what comes after?
“Maybe he’ll get born again,” she says.
Well, hell, or is it heaven or reincarnation, or what. Where does she come up with this stuff?
In for a penny, in for a pound, which is a really silly phrase but its meaning is fairly well known. Ok, go for it, I tell myself.
“Some people believe that when you die, sometimes you can be born again. If you lived a good life, it’s like you deserve another chance.”
This I say to a child getting a Catholic School Education, I’m surprised I wasn’t struck down by lightning on the spot.
And here we got to the crux of her question.
“Maybe if I got born again I wouldn’t have to take medication.”
It broke my heart and I had to blink back tears that this sweet young thing felt her need to take daily medication was a negative thing, that it made her somehow…less.
I did my best to reassure her that taking medication is just something we have to do, to help us live the healthiest life we can. I told her that I take medication everyday too, but I’m not sure comparing her situation to mine, (given the fact that I’m ‘old’), was really the comfort I hoped it would be.
I think it’s so sad that children grow up feeling ostracized for being different, and then as adults strive for individuality and their own identity.
Funny, but I too had had thoughts about reincarnation, and will share those on Friday, but for now, I want to end on a happier note, so here’s another story.
This same child, much younger at the time, came to visit and we were having a snack and watching a movie. Slouched down on the couch, our feet on the ottoman (well, my feet were on the ottoman, hers wouldn’t reach) we were eating potato chips.
She had control of the bag and was handing me chips, one at a time, before giving me a handful all at once. I set them on my upper chest, as with my semi-reclined position, and my generous bosom, I had a shelf to rest them on.
I watched her mimic my action and immediately told her not to do that, realizing the bad example I had set. I told her she didn’t want to get grease stains on her nice T-shirt, but it didn’t matter about mine as it was my art shirt and it was already covered with paint.
She looked at me very seriously, considering all this information.
“So, it’s OK if you have paint on your shirt?”
What else could I reply but yes, it made sense with her child’s sense of logic.
Maybe, sometime, I’ll share our conversation about where food comes from.
What a kid, she keeps me on my toes.