Today Kid A leaned over the side of the couch and whispered conspiratorially to the Leaf Baby, "Your daddy's dead."
"Kid A!" I exclaimed, horrified. "Don't say that! His daddy, I mean, your daddy, isn't dead!"
"Oh," Kid A replied. "He's in Turkey?"
This confusion between whether Daddy is dead or in Turkey isn't a wild question out of the blue. It all originated in the (gasp) Little House on the Prairie, Collection Edition, First Season on DVD. Elena lent it to me, and I thought- Wow, it would be cool to watch some together before bed every day, while Chinua's gone. We don't have TV here, and I figured that Little House on the Prairie is about as innocent as you can get. That is, until the little boy's pa exploded in a rock quarry.
"Wow, uh--whoops, what happened?" I flustered, and then tried to fast forward past the part where Laura's Pa has to tell the man's wife and son that he was dead. Tried, but managed to un-pause it just at the point where the little boy says, "Now that my Pa's dead, I've got a lotta work to do. A lotta work."
I watched as Kid A's eyes got bigger and bigger, and then, after it was over, as they started to glisten. "What are you thinking about, Kid A?" I asked. "I'm thinking about how that little boy's daddy died," he said, in the saddest little-boy voice ever, and the glisten turned into a couple of big tears that still managed not to spill over.
We talked about it a little. Kid A was confused about why the boy's dad died. "Was it because he was yelling?" he wanted to know. I told him no, it was just an accident. Then later, as we were getting into bed, and we were talking about Chinua, and crossing off another day on the calendar to show that it's getting closer to when he will be home, Kid A said, "Is my daddy gonna die?" Again, in the saddest little-boy voice you've ever heard. "No," I replied, because you can't even leave room in his mind for something like that. Not now. And we talked about how exciting it will be when we go to pick Chinua up at the airport. The next morning he woke up talking about how "issited" he was to get Daddy from the airport, and I thought, phew. But today, the confusion persists. Is Daddy dead? Or in Turkey?
As if it wasn't enough that he wonders daily about whether a big rock is going to fall from space to kill him, like it killed the dinosaurs.
I don't think that he really thinks his daddy is dead, but it was possibly the first time that it has occurred to him that a parent could die. Curse you, Little House on the Prairie. It's not that I want Kid A to be in the dark forever about loss and sad things that happen in the world. I mean, I'm planning to bring him to India in September. But it seemed like slightly bad timing. It's Chinua's longest absence from the kids.
Kai's funny, the way he takes things in. He's a lot like me. We both personalize everything. If something bad could happen to someone on TV, then something bad could happen to me. It's the reason that I can't even think of the plot of Flight Plan. Waking up on a plane to find your daughter has disappeared? ACK. No, can't think about it, la la la, I'm not listening. I've la la la-ed my way through a lot of movies in my life, walked out of even more. Anyways. We'll just have to take the next two weeks day by day, crossing off calendar square by calendar square, sorting out the confusion between "dead" and "in Turkey."