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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No More Birthdays

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photo from babble.com

My 5-year-old boy has been asking me some tough questions lately. I'm not sure what has brought on these thoughts which seem much too deep for a 5-year-old mind, but almost daily he brings them to me.

"How come some people get in car crashes but some people don't?"

"Do birds go to heaven, too?"

"Why don't big people like wishing-flowers (dandelions) or dirt?"

The list goes on. But yesterday morning's question was the most unexpected. It was still dark outside and most of the house was asleep when Hubba poked his head around my bedroom door and timidly called out, "Mom?"

Hubba usually sleeps until well past sunrise so I welcomed this early morning visit with my boy. "Climb in," I invited him, pulling back the covers.

He snuggled in next to me and immediately asked, "Mom, are you going to die?"

I was surprised, but answered, "Someday, buddy. But I'll have many, many more birthdays before that happens."

"I don't want you to have any more birfdays," he responded.

"Well, I really like cake and ice cream and presents, though. How will I get those if I don't have birthdays?"

"You can have them on my birfday, okay? Promise you won't have any more birfdays? I don't want you to ever die."

What do you say to words like these? My heart melted. What a beautiful thing to be so loved. I decided to try explaining things from another perspective.

"Well, I plan to live a very, very long time. I hope I'll live until I am a very old grandma with a whole lifetime of happy memories."

"I don't want you to be a gramma. I will never be a dad and I will never have a kid and then you will never die, okay?"

We continued this conversation in the quiet of the morning, back and forth, point and counter-point, until the rest of the house began to stir and slowly come to life. As we got out of bed to start the morning I made one last attempt at helping him to understand, in a gentle, five-year-old kind of way, that death was inevitable. That we all continue in the circle of life whether we choose to or not.

"Tell you what, Hubba," I started. "I'll stop having birthdays if you just stay little. That means you'll never get to go to school or be a firefighter or train engineer. You just have to stay here at home with me and Dad for the rest of your life and never grow bigger. You'll never get to drive a car or learn to build things. You won't ever be a boy scout or ride a big bike or shoot guns with Dad. Can you do that?"

Hubba sighed. "Okay, Mom. If you stop having birfdays, I will just stop growing." And then he looked at me with his sheepish little smile, gave me a squeeze and said, "Fanks, Mom. I love you!" as he happily made his way downstairs to get dressed.

I'm thinking we haven't quite come to a conclusion with that whole conversation just yet. But for now, I'm content to just let it be.

P.S. In the spirit of my Grandpa Royce and his rich Irish heritage I would like to wish the luck o' the Irish upon every one of you today. Are you wearing your green? Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Chrissy said...

So he doesn't want u to have any more b'days? I can see from his perspective that means u won't get older.. but ( I know I would of made the mistake in saying this to mine) if u don't have more b'days- then u aren't here (alive)... see, I would of put my foot in my mouth...As Art Linkletter would/or use to say " kids say the darndest things'....

Karin said...

That is just beautiful. True love in such a pure form. Yes, it is nice to be loved that much.

Gerb said...

Chrissy- Yeah, that's the gist of it. He's decided that no more birthdays means no more aging. We're working on helping him to better understand it but it's not so easy for him to grasp. Thanks for the comment!

Karin- Thanks. And yes, it really is.

Rachel said...

I think the sweetest part of this is his saying he'll stay little! From his little perspective...all of those exciting fun things, to be a big boy, and hang out with his bigger brothers......what a sweet little guy your Hubba is.

And why do we stop liking wishing flowers and dirt.....? Hubba's got the right idea. I think I'll stay little too. Being an adult is overrated.

~j. said...

Sweet. Just...so sweet.

Linn said...

What a darling boy and such a sweet conversation. I love how you handled it--a great lesson to me.

Shannon said...

I am just bawling my eyes out at the moment - what a beautiful, beautiful conversation to begin a day with. That Hubba...he's one smart guy.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

Oh Gerb. I should know better than to read Hubba stories at work. Hopefully nobody will catch me sniffling and wiping my eyes in my cube. Hubba is such a lovebug...sometimes I wish his SuperTwin wouldn't grow up either.

Ali said...

What a neat conversation to have with your son.

Enjoy your time with him as he will surely grow up faster than you want.

My babies are now 32 and 30 and sometimes I just wish they were young again. I miss those times with them but am now enjoying time with my three grandchildren.

Kara said...

I just love how you capture in writing the sweet way kids talk and think.

Richard & Natalie said...

Don't you love those little talks? After all the guff they put us through they really do love us underneath it all. The most endearing part is that he would give up all those great things about growing up to keep you with him...That is love at its best.

Kinsey said...

That is such a cute convo! I'm glad you captured it in a blog post, so you can show it to him when he's older and understands death a little bit more. If I was him, I would want to stay little too ;) It's so much easier!!

Janet said...

What a sweet post. Thanks for sharing!

Lyndee said...

It's wonderful having kids that adore you and always want to be with you. Then they turn into teenagers. I don't want to have a mama's boy...well, yeah I do.

Lori said...

Whew. I'm with all the criers out there right now, Gerb. Especially since I've been having a similar conversation with Lawson about the whole death issue--will post that later, when I feel capable of writing about it. This was just so dang beautiful--in sentiment, in writing, in the emotions it evoked. I love it.

And fyi, I'm wearing my shamrock tee today, with it's "kiss me" message. I played volleyball this morning with a guy wearing one that said "rub here for luck," and so of course I rubbed the belly. He looked at me and said, "but I can't follow your directions; your husband would shoot me or something." Heh, heh, heh.

Gina said...

Love that. I can't count how many times, in tears, Gabby has asked me to not become a grandma. Instead, she wants me to stay a mom forever, even if she is a mom to her babies. So sweet. They just don't quite understand the inevitability of it all. I want to wrap her up in her young happiness and hug her and hug her. So sweet to hear Hubba's story.

Teachinfourth said...

Gerb, beautiful sentiments and story. Thanks for allowing us a small peek into your home...

Anaise said...

Oh, when they call your bluff--what do you do? But his determination to keep you around is the stuff heaven is made of. Kiss him lots and keep enjoying that precious boy.

Melissa said...

That was a beautiful post!! Isn't it amazing when your kids start thinking really thinking and you have one of thoes moments of knowing that you must be doing something right for your child to do have such thoughtful thoughts. Sounds like your a great mom! Thanks for sharing.

Gerb said...

Rachel- I thought for sure that all of those things would get him to reconsider. I'm one lucky momma.

~j- He really is.

Linn- It makes me wish he really could stay little forever...

Shannon- He sure is!

BTM- We've GOT to get these boys together sometime. Got any trips to Utah planned? ;)

Ali- They do grow up fast. I can still clearly remember when my oldest boy was Hubba's age and I miss those times. However, I sure love the people my older kids have become.

Kara- Thanks.

Natalie- I know. It was so heartwarming! He can be such a sweet kid sometimes.

Kinsey- I have thought many times of how great it would be to have someone do everything for me again. But I don't think I'd be willing to give up the life i have now to be 5 again! Thanks for reading and commenting! Please come back anytime.

Janet- Thanks for reading!

Lyndee- I actually really enjoy my teenagers most of the time. It's like I grew myself some friends (who have to do what I say...).

Lori- That was a huge compliment, thank you. I look forward to hearing your story as well.

Gina- I love that. Especially how serious they are about the whole idea. It is absolutely precious (imagine I just signed that, it is less cheesy that way).

T5th- You're welcome to step in beyond the front door if you're ever up for a good mauling =0)... and thanks.

Anaise- That describes it perfectly. It certainly felt like heaven to be so loved.

Melissa- Thank you on all accounts. I do my best at mothering and moments like these make it all worthwhile. Thanks for the comment! Come by anytime.

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