Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hard Questions

In the past week, I was forced to explain the following concepts to my little buttercup:
  • Taxes
  • Cremation
  • Why her birthmom chose us to be her parents
When my sisters and I were growing up, our mom would always say, "Why can't you girls ever ask me an easy question like, 'do butterflies have teeth?'"  Now I know how she felt.

First, the taxes . . . if you're lucky, you've got a Liberty Tax office in your neck of the woods.  If you're even luckier, your local branch forces hapless employees (or maybe they hire day laborers? I have no idea) to stand at the nearest intersection wearing Statute of Liberty garb. On Thursday, the kid and I were headed to the gym (me to step aerobics, her to the kids' play area) when she asked me about the dancing halfwit on the corner of the intersection.

"Well," I started. "It's for a tax place. They are trying to get us to have our taxes done there."

"What are taxes?"

"The government takes part of every person's paycheck.  Then we have to file a report to make sure we gave the government the right amount."

The questions sped up from there.  Why do we have to pay?  What does the government buy with the money? Do people in China have to pay?  I answered the questions as best I could (I married a finance major so that I wouldn't have to worry my pretty little head about these things!).  Then she started asking me if people in China speak Spanish, so we were safely off the topic of taxes at that point. 

Next up: cremation.  This topic came up when we passed a cemetery.  Ever since I explained to her that deceased people are buried in cemeteries, she's been sort of obsessed with it. She can spot a headstone a hundred yards away and shout, "that person got dead!"  The other day she started asking, "Is our dog Karlie buried in a cemetery?"  Ugh, I knew this one was coming.

"Well, no," I responded. "We had him cremated."

"What does cremated mean?"

The last thing I wanted to tell a five-year-old is that someone tossed her beloved dog's body in a fire and burned him up (even though that is technically what happens).  So, I hemmed and hawed and stammered my way through an explanation and told her that Karl's ashes are on a shelf in my bedroom. A asked if she could see them when we got home.  I told her she could.  She forgot for about a day (I almost thought I was off the hook) and then she asked to view the ashes.  I opened the flowered tin and showed her the contents.  She nodded and walked away.  No more questions - whew!  A few moments later I realized I'd actually shown her Lucy's ashes.  I think I'll just keep that little tidbit to myself.

And finally, the really hard one. My daughter knows that she was adopted and has lots of adoption-themed books in her collection, including a book I made that contains her story specifically.  She doesn't ask a ton of questions, but I answer them as they come, as honestly as I can.  As I was tucking her into bed last night, she asked: "Why did J choose you and Daddy to be my parents?"

I didn't know if she was asking why her birthmom placed her for adoption or if she was wondering why her birthmom chose such inept parents for her. I explained that J loves her very much but at the time A was born, she didn't have the greatest job, didn't have anyone (a partner) to help her, and that it was a tough time for her in general. So, she chose P and I to raise the baby.

Whenever I ask my daughter, "What was the happiest day of my life?" she smiles and responds, "The day I was born."  I always try just to make sure she knows she has been loved all along.  By me, by her dad, by her birthmom, and by about a bajillion friends and relatives (biological and not). 

I'm exhausted from all the tough questions.  If the next question is anything other than "do butterflies have teeth?" I'm referring her to her father.

2 comments:

radioactivegan said...

She sounds like one smart cookie to be asking all those questions. Especially about speaking Spanish in China. I'd never even considered it ...

Stillwater said...

When we brought home Candy's ashes, Leif didn't care that we were pretty still pretty upset...he really just wanted to "peek" inside the velvet bag. Not sure what he thought he was going to see...