Friday, July 08, 2005

Quietus

I was on my way home from church with two of my daughters, Anna and Avery, and we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up drinks and snacks for the trip home (we live 45 minutes from church - it's a long story). As we checked out, an old man bagged our groceries for us. Normally I would say "an older man," but this man was old.

"You are old," Anna said to the employee.

I felt the hairs on my head shocking into gray. I was horrified - even though Anna might as well have plucked the words straight out of my brain. Fortunately, the man was hard of hearing and he asked if Anna was telling him how old she was. I lied and nodded and told him she had just had a birthday.

I bent down to Anna and whispered in her ear to shut up. It's what I meant. I actually said something more along the lines of, "Anna, let's talk about this when we get to the car, okay?"

"You are old," she said again. "Are you about to die?"

I'm surprised I stayed on my feet, as one liter of blood after another rushed into my face. I was fervently praying for the Lord to close this man's ears - more even than He already had. I didn't stick around to hear an answer. I grabbed my groceries and properly ran out of the store.

On the way to the car, I tried to explain to Anna the importance of not asking people if they're about to die. That it just isn't polite.

"Why?"

"Well," I began, "people don't like to think about dying."

"Why?"

"Just because," I finished. "Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you understand?" is how I stop my children from arguing with me or from asking questions that I'm just not sure how to answer for them at their ages. It is how I end the conversation.

Anna has been talking a lot about not wanting to die since then. I wonder if I did that. I'm afraid to know the answer.

4 comments:

jaymarie said...

my humble and ever outspoken (can the two mutually exsist? i hope so) opinion: if she is talking about it then you need to talk about it. she is phrasing questions as statements and a lack of understanding leads to fear - but our heavenly father has given us many answers to combat fear, especially of death.

you have a natural way with words, a God given gift, now use it! speak the truth in love, as i have already seen you do on this blog (almost every day) and you will be showing your daughter a beautiful reflection of our Lord.

I do believe that using "do you understand" to cut off a conversation is completely appropriate (my choice phrase is "am I being clear?" God forbid they say, "no, could you explain that one more time") ... And, I also think that you have a great opportunity, now that Anna is talking about it, to explain that we are body, mind and spirit, and that our spirit never really dies... (you would say it better than i could here, but do you see what I mean?)

Don't be afraid - be excited, she has just opened the door to a whole new relm of understanding, and, yes, I get that the truth bites some, but, with faith, the hope and beauty are more powerful than the sting. And most children have the gift of faith in abundance (don't you think that is why we are called to be like them... among other reasons, of course)

sorry for the epistle, but it is a matter dear to my heart, even to the point of conviction in my own life. and, you, I am already considering a friend.

let me know what you think...

warmly,
jaymarie

jaymarie said...

Oh, and as if the first comment wasn't enough...
the first part of your story cracked me up. I can just see it now... you poor man.

"are you about to die." oh my gosh! No telling what I would have done under those circumstances, but I bet it wouldn't have included as much self-control as you had!

Scott said...

Jaymarie, thanks for the encouragement. I spoke with her about it last night and it helped. She said, "I don't want to turn green and die." I don't know where that came from, but we talked about it and it quickly turned to her not wanting to have babies because she didn't want to get shots . . . We'll keep talking.

It's a scary world out there for a four year old.

Thanks bunches.

Lorna said...

I LOVED this

I laughed until it hurt. Kids!

but then it also struck me how kids often ask the right question. Who knows maybe the old man was - or is - afraid of dying? If he had heard Anna and if he had said something along those lines, how would we repond?

PS Great you talked to her about her fears. But not wanting to have kids isn't a bad thing when you are only 4!!!