Day 29: The Benjamin Button Lesson

My daughter doesn’t understand life.

She used the phrase, “…grow into a baby…” once and I kind of forgot about it. But since then she’s used it so many times that it’s become clear that we have a fundamental misunderstanding.

I used to have the same sorts of misconceptions. I remember the day I learned that people didn’t live forever. I was about three, living in North Dakota in a small, red house. I believed, without a doubt, that my parents and I would live together forever in that house.  I could envision my mom, my dad, and me doing whatever the hell I wanted into infinity. They’d always be there taking care of me and I would always have a nap after lunch. Through a neighbor kid I somehow learned about death. Suddenly I had no idea what would happen. It was extremely disappointing. Girl Q is having similar delusions.

If Girl Q sees our old baby swing, she says, “When I grow into a baby, I can use that swing again.

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She believes that everyone will grow into a baby. That someday, her older brother won’t be older than her because they’ll both be babies. Dad Q and I will also grow into babies.

I try to explain to her that no one will be ‘growing into a baby’.

Girl Q, you won’t grow into a baby. You’ll grow up into an adult, maybe into a Mom like me.” (This to give her some context…)

No…that’s not how it works.

How does it work?

It works because of popsicles and paint.” ?!

Girl Q…,” Curiosity gets the better of me. “How long will you be a baby?”

Um…when I’m sixty-eighty-eight. And you’ll make me a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Cake.”

Will Boy Q grow into a baby?!”

Yes!”

Okay…you know you won’t be a baby when you grow up, right? You’ll be an adult.”

I’d rather be an animal. Like a bunny! Hop! Hop!”

I get it. The poor girl is already disillusioned with life at the age of three.  And it is kind of a nice idea. Babies are always taken care of and surrounded by loving people (well, ideally). Babies get tons of colorful toys. Babies get lots of attention. Someday I may convince her, but I daresay she’ll learn this particular lesson in her own good time. It’s too bad it’ll be so disappointing.

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