A sting in the tale 

My husband has already finished his Christmas shopping. Which is an indicator of how excited he is about Christmas. He seemed particularly pleased about being able to hide his hoard of gifts in the loft – our last two houses have had the attics converted into bedrooms, preventing him from doing this. The instruction was to keep our oldest son out of the loft, which is easier said than done at the best of times. It was even harder today, because we had a tradesman visiting and ‘doing stuff’ up there.

Tradespeople and any kind of emergency worker are like catnip to young children. They gravitate towards their high vis, toolbelts, or uniforms like bees to pollen before staring at them with abandon whilst interrogating them about their job or what they are doing until parents drag them away. 

The tradesperson was an electrician, and he had to go in the loft, leaving the ladder dangling down tantalisingly. Our son tried to follow, so my husband stopped him (fearing the discovery of presents from ‘Santa’) and gave the first excuse that came to mind: ‘There’s a wasp nest up there and they will sting you, but Tony is trying to get rid of them.’ This was partially true as there is a nest, but they’ve all died off now. Our son was deterred from ascending into the loft, but intrigued by the wasps. He had a lot of questions about them, questions which lasted all day. They lasted to the supermarket and back. And commenced again when we walked back into the house to find Tony still there: ‘have you got rid of the wasps now?’ They continued while Tony tried to do the job we’d called him out for. In order to try and stop our son from harassing him further, we suggested he sit down and draw a picture of the wasps for us. He was surprisingly game for this. The resulting piece of artwork included a depiction of his baby brother being stung by a mother and baby wasp. He took quite a lot of time over the stings, and asked me for a red crayon to finish off. I feared its purpose and didn’t ask what it was for. ‘That’s blood mummy’, yes… I thought it might be that.

Next year we are going to hide the Christmas presents somewhere else. 

Forever sleep 

Recently our son has been asking about death a lot. It seems to be a normal stage for an inquisitive 4 year old to go through, but I think it was triggered by him being allowed to watch the new Star Wars film. Which led to me having to explain that Han Solo was having a ‘forever sleep’. In some ways it’s been quite a useful conversation to have, because now my warnings (threats) have leverage; I.e. Don’t do that because you could have a forever sleep.

Anyway… The grandparents of my husband and I have also come up a lot. Where they are now to be precise. I thought they were all gone until I realised my dads mum is still hanging in there at the admirable age of 95. Whoops. So we headed up to the nursing home to see her, with my son intermittently asking ‘When is your grandma going to die?’ and me explaining that you don’t know when you will die, but at her age it could be any minute now, and please don’t ask her when she will die because she will get upset. In fairness he didn’t ask her anything. At all. He seemed to freak out instead and was rendered mute for the whole visit, which was probably for the best.

That was a few weeks ago, but this morning he asked me again ‘Where is your grandma?’

‘She had a forever sleep.’

‘Why?’

‘Because she was very very old and poorly?’

‘Where is she now?’

‘Erm… heaven, hopefully. It’s a nice and peaceful place.’

‘Who took her there?’

(Fuck sake…) ‘Angels.’

He looked a bit puzzled at this last answer and then carried on playing with his Star Wars toys. Thank goodness, because I’m really not ready for a frank talk about religion just yet. May need to read up on the best approach for that first!