Friday, November 24, 2006

will I die?

If you have, or ever had, young kids of your own you are bound to hear this question at least once. I thought I was prepared for it.

Piece of cake.


I was queried by my daughter shortly after she broke her arm last month.

We sat in the Hospital's Emergency waiting room. I was trying to make light of the situation, but I could tell my little girl was not feeling too well and every time I looked over at her holding her arm still, so as not to move it and cause more pain, I got a lump in my throat.

I really hate it when my daughter gets injured.

Then, with those innocent doe eyes, she looks at me and asks “that” question.

Um, (my mind hesitates) um, well, um . . .

I was experiencing brain stutter. I want to be honest with my daughter. I didn’t want to fill her full of misleading daddy-knows-all nonsense.

Um, er, um.

This would require me to put the verbal answer on hold for a few moments and really give it a whirl.

Short answer. Yes, of course you will die. But you can’t just come out and tell an injured child something like that with a clear conscience.

And did I really know anyhow?

I mean forty or fifty years from now science may have cracked that genetic thing wide open, found all the responsible culprits for cell death and “voila” . . .

. . . “please enter the gene-resequencing, stem-cell replication rejuvenation booth. And please, switch off all cellular and electronic devices, including your passive brain implants. This should only take a few moments. Try to relax, for today is the first day of your eternal life.”

But, how could I explain this to a seven year old? And still, even if she got genetically cooked up to live forever, what about accidents? She may, even after all that, still die.

Then it hit me.

The real answer.

The answer that comes from complete honesty.

The answer is, “I don’t know.”

But that leads to worse brain stutter.

-Picture it-

“Dad, will I die?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly.

Oh, good one Dad. She is going to sit here now, until the doctor comes to get us, wondering if this is the end. No more Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy or Friday night Captain Kirk adventures from ages old VHS tapes. She is starting to hyperventilate and her eyes are misting up. Oh crap!

-End Picture-

So, in clever daddy fashion, I answer a question close to, but not exactly, what she is asking.

“Um, I don’t think you are going to die from having a broken arm.”

There, it’s done.

What a cop out though.

Just like a politician answering any question by giving the answer to another one.

Sometimes I wonder if I give her questions too much thought. She most likely just thinks I’m slow on the uptake, but she loves me just the same and I her.

Now to start mentally preparing for questions regarding boys and their anatomy . . .

Er, go ask your mother . . .

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