Grasshoppers + Death + Life

The Roc and I went on a walk a couple days ago, and as soon as we came back inside he settled in with his iPad and I came up to my computer and started to record our conversation.  I’ve come back to this page over the last few days and written the rest.  He’s come so far and I’m so proud of the connections he is making and the emotional growth he is able to express.  I wanted to capture this time.

***

I have been pushing the Roc to converse with me instead of delivering monologues at me.  It’s really hard to talk about Halloween (since the beginning of August,) Plants vs. Zombies (since last Christmas!) and what we are going to bake next – over and over and over again.  Every.single.day.  It is extremely one-sided and the Roc has been expressing anger when I don’t listen and answer him with a distracted, “Umm-hmmm.”  I want the Roc to be able to converse with peers and adults (and me!)  So I’ve been pushing the boundaries of his language skills.  I prod him to give me more details about school by asking if something fun happened that day, and he is no longer allowed to say recess and/or lunch.  I tell him that I will only talk about Plants vs. Zombies for the first two minutes of our walks and then I try to steer him in a different direction.  I prompt him to ask me a question, any question he can think of, about me or my day.  He usually asks me if I had a good day and what I did.  Even though it’s forced and he told me he doesn’t actually care what I did that day, it’s a start, and a skill needed to get along in this world.

We’ve been going on a lot of walks lately, both to enjoy the weather, and also to get out of the house while GC is ripping out and installing new flooring.  It is so loud and the Roc has a hard time with the noise, even while wearing his noise-canceling headphones.  The grasshoppers are everywhere on the trails during our walks and the Roc tends to get frustrated when they jump right in front of him.  One day last week he got so mad that he stomped on a grasshopper and when I turned to look we both saw the grasshopper half smooshed, pulling itself by centimeters across the blacktop.  I gasped and said that looked like a horrible way to die and the Roc immediately crouched down and tears came to his eyes.  He told me he wished he hadn’t stomped on the bug, that it was living before he did that, and now it couldn’t go on with it’s life.  He asked me if I could fix it and hung his head when I told him I couldn’t.  We watched the grasshopper eventually stop moving and the Roc asked if he could mark the grave by piling up some grass.  After he did that he wanted to celebrate the grasshoppers life, which we did by saying a few words about the weather and how nice a life the little bug must have had in the park.  After some time the Roc said he was ready to walk on, but he didn’t think he would feel better for awhile.

Seeing how open he was I tried to make the connection of how the Roc felt about the grasshopper and how much worse it would be if we were to see a pet get hurt.  I mentioned how much harder it would be to see Guinness get injured and how devastated we would feel if we couldn’t save him.  Our conversation moved on to hunting (which he was talking about lately with GC ) and he made the connection that if it was hard for him to watch a grasshopper die, then it would be near impossible to watch a deer die.  (I breathed a sigh of relief as I didn’t really want him to want to hunt.)  He wanted to know why people hunted instead of just letting the animals live and I tried to explain population control to him, but he got stuck on wanting people to leave animals alone.

Talking about animals seemed to brighten the Roc up considerably and he launched into telling me about how more animals are made…and then people…I was fully enjoying the fact that we were not talking about one of his three main subjects of late.

“Mommy, did you know that one animal makes another animal and then that animal makes two more and then those two animals make more and more and it just keeps going?  Did you know that animals make animals?”

“Yes, Roc.  I did know that.”

“Did you know that people make people?” he asked me.  “Yup.”

“Did you make me?”

“Yup.  I did.”  I wondered whether this was going to lead to the question I don’t want to answer:  How did he get inside me?  Luckily, he didn’t ask that particular question.  Instead he brought up the miscarriage I had a few years ago.

“Mommy, remember that baby that was in your belly and it died?”

“Yes.”

“I still feel sad about that and I wish we could have had another kid.  I really wish I had someone to play with.  I don’t have anyone to play with and I really wish I did.”

“Well, I know you wish that and sometimes Mommy feels sad about that baby too.  But you know what?  I am so happy that I got to have you.  Did I ever tell you that when you were in my belly the doctors told me that there was a chance that I might lose you?  I didn’t know for a long time while I was pregnant with you if you were going to live.  It was hard and I am so thankful and grateful that I got to have you.  And there are some benefits to being an only child you know?  You get all my attention.  I can take you places and travel with you, like when we go to Arizona in the winter.  It’s lucky in some ways, that you are an only.”

The Roc pondered that for a moment and then said,

“Well, I still wish there was someone in the house to play with, but you know what?  I’m really glad that I was born a boy.”

“Really?  Why?”

“Because then I don’t have to grow a baby.  I don’t want to have to do that and so I’m glad that I don’t have to.”

“Yup, you are right.  You won’t ever have to grow a baby in your belly.”

Then he asked if he could talk about Halloween and so I told him yes..and I tried to muster some enthusiasm and attention for this repetitive topic.  My mind wandered back over what had just happened and the connections the Roc has been making lately while he chattered on about the desserts I already agreed to bake, the costume he was going to wear, the new decorations I already agreed to buy, the kinds of pumpkins he wanted to carve, and the decorations he was going to make.

I smiled as I walked on, half listening, and thought about how grateful I am to have the chance to slow down and savor life.  Everything is hard won with this boy and he works so hard every day.

***

Yesterday the Roc was inside the house while I mowed the lawn and GC worked on the floor.  I knew he wasn’t happy as I could hear him through the open windows telling his father to be quiet.  I loaded up the van with some stuff to bring to the town composting site and poked my head inside to ask the Roc if he wanted to come along for the ride.  He did and he told me loudly how unhappy he was that it was so noisy in the house.  He was agitated  in the car and screamed loudly about a butterfly flying near him in the van as I drove out of the neighborhood.  I could see his face screwed up in anger and his arms waving around in the rear view mirror and then I saw that it was moth.

“Don’t kill it Roc!  Remember how you felt when you squashed the grasshopper last week?!”

“I already killed it,” he told me.

“Oh no, are you ok?”

“Yeah, I don’t feel bad this time.”

“You don’t?” I asked him.

“No, it is different today.  My emotions didn’t come out.”

Huh.  I didn’t see that coming.

I hid my smile and turned up the music.

 

***

I love his word choices and how he is learning to express himself.  The growth is inside as much as it is on the outside.

I feel so lucky to be witnessing his transformation.

 

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