Thursday, April 12, 2012

“Mama, when will all the days be over?”

“Mama, when will all the days be over?”  Finny asks me this question on an almost daily basis these days.  I know he’s trying to understand time, how the calendar works, but still the question always sits deep within me, a reminder of his innocence, like gold.

“Mama, when will all the days be over?”  He wants to know because we’ll be talking about our schedule.  We’ll be talking about what’s coming up.  “Tomorrow you’ll go to school and then after nap, Grandma and Pop-Pop are coming over.  Then the next day, we are going to the zoo, and then two days later, on Sunday, we are going to Julia’s birthday party.”

“But, Mama,” he insists, “When will all the days be over?”  And I’m not quite sure what he’s asking.  It’s such an existential question from such a tiny little voice.  The days keep coming, the calendar pages keep flipping.  There’s nap, then there’s what comes after nap.  There’s bedtime, then there’s what comes after bedtime.  He knows there is a tomorrow and a yesterday, but he has no sense of what all the days look like all lined up and packaged into weeks and months and years.  And he wants to know…what?  When we’ll rest?  When we’ll stop planning stuff to do and people to see?

“Mama, when will all the days be over?”  That’s the question, and my answer is always the same, “I don’t know, Finn.  Hopefully, not for a long, long time.”  Because, I continue on in my head, I like the days.  I like all the days.  Even the really tough ones.  And I want more and more and more time with you, time with Charlie, time with Daddy, time with everyone we love.

And today, he asked, “Mama, when will we all die?”  And at three years old, he’s trying to understand something that’s impossible to understand.  And I see what’s coming for him… the beginning of fear.  Monsters and bugs and worms and dark rooms—they’re all jumping out to get him now.  And he wants to understand something about life, death and time that I can’t explain. 

I only know there’s something about this question that I like.  It could be the way his sweet blue eyes blink at me, just waiting for me to deliver a simple answer as he chews up the last bits of his grilled cheese.  It could be the way it makes me stop in my tracks and notice him, notice the room, notice the fleeting moment we’re in, me with my dish towel, Charlie with his teething ring, and Finny gulp, gulp, gulping his cup of milk until he’s exhausted from its refreshment.  It could simply be that it’s such a dark, sad question, but coming from Finny it just seems so practical and matter of fact.

“Mama, when will all the days be over?”  I don’t know, Finn.  And I like it that way.  Keep chewing your grilled cheese.  And I hang the dish towel up and give him a kiss.  A big one.