Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Oh, My Head.

Today I was showing Ethan pictures of this:

newly-wedded self-portrait-y bliss

The Blue Pool waterfall on the road to Hana

venturing down into the crater of Haleakala

Because we are going there! Soon! Give me a minute to contain myself, people! Um. SQUEEE!

We are lucky enough to be able to take Ethan to Maui, back to the exact resort where we honeymooned in '05. And I am attempting to squelch my anxiety of returning there 25lbs heavier than I was as a newly-wed by focusing on how much fun it is going to be to show Ethan the waterfalls (like, in the lobby of the hotel!), the fish (also in the lobby of the hotel!), the pool, the volcano, the beach, the spa (okay, that one's really just about me).

Today when I was showing Ethan the pictures, he got very quiet, looked at me and said, "Well, where was I when you were in Hawaii?" I told him, as I have before, that Mommy & Daddy went to Hawaii before he was born. In the past this has elicited everything from quiet acceptance to him responding with the breath-taking, "Oh, that's right. That's when I was waiting for you," (um, chills, people.)

This time, though, he was not so easy to appease, nor was he nearly as preternaturally intelligent and in touch with the Realm of Ideals. This time, he looked at me suspiciously. At first I thought he was trying to figure out who we dumped him on for a week while we frolicked in the sand, guzzled lavaflows and swam with sea turtles. And please. We tried to leave him with my parents once for ONE night. Believe me, leaving him with someone so we can have a week alone in Hawaii? Ha! Hardly likely to ever happen. So I told him, "no honey, we didn't leave you with anyone. We went before you were born."

Whatever that meant to him last time, when he said that he remembered not being born and that he was waiting for me then, did not register into his mind this evening. This evening I got a blank stare of "What are you talking about, crazy woman?" and I realized I was on the cusp of one of those conversations. Like the "Who is G-d?" question we got a few nights ago. Oh, shit, woman! Think fast!!!!

Nevermind the whole "When a man and a woman love each other very very much..." conversation. I don't think that's something he's quite ready for yet (and I KNOW I'm not); nor do I think it's where his curiosity and confusion was stemming from. I could see from his expression, his mind was on the "before" part of it. Before he was born. What could that possibly mean?!

The concept that we existed, that the world existed, before Ethan did, is so foreign to him. We can call my father and wish him a happy 68th birthday, and even though Ethan knows he himself is only going to be 4 this year, he doesn't question it. Where was he all those 64 other years of Grampy's life? But for some reason, tonight, showing him pictures of a place that we are going to as a family, that his father and I have been to as a couple, was very confusing and unsettling to him.

And seriously, WHAT do you say to a child about WHERE they were before they were born?! Is it Heaven?! You can't tell them they were just nothing, can you?! Oh dear G-d! The questions! At 3 and a half!

I cannot tell you, my friends, how freaking happy I was to hear Husband's key in the front door at that very moment. It is Pavlovian. Key turns in the door, and Ethan's entire focus and attention turns to Husband's homecoming. Oh, Hallelujah! Discussion of existential angst with almost-4 year old averted!!!

Don't get me wrong, folks. I love to hear his mind working and I love that he is curious about the world around him, both what he can see and touch, and what he can only sense or fleetingly feel, like the hint of a whisper from wherever he was before he was born. And I want to have these conversations with him. I really, really do. But can we wait until he's like 5?


Anonymous said...

I really like this post. I read it last night but had to think about it awhile. I keep going back to "Oh, that's right. That's when I was waiting for you,". I think E. knows more than he is letting on. I have a feeling this will come up again real soon, way before he is 5....maybe before is 4.

"Oh, that's right. That's when I was waiting for you," keeps going through my head.

Uncle Al

lonek8 said...

can you say that he was just in your minds and in your hearts before he was born? You know, with a straight face and not sounding like a cheesy greeting card?

I'd probably be tempted to sy something sarcastic like "Philadelphia" to confuse him. haha, just kidding

cicadalady said...

i can answer this one for you: he was playing checkers:

Becca said...

This is so sweet!

FemaleDrama said...

I agree w/Uncle Al-the "that's when I was waiting for you" comment gives me chills. This sounds like a very intuitive lil smarty!