Philosophical Discussions With An 8YO

I think 8 is when it begins to click. I know for myself, 8 is when I realized that most people were full of shit. That was the year we got evicted from our house in Jamaica... the big, comfortable middle-class house we lived in at 38 Montgomery Avenue, Kingston 10. The year I was 8 was the year we went from being sort of strange, artistic middle-class people to just being strange. And people react funny to "strange", and I got to see the dark side of people.

I was talking to the Fat Lady the other day, who was telling me how her daughter Sugar, who is the same age as the Sun, is beginning to ask those deep philosophical questions. Like "Who Came Before God?"

I remember being 8 and having Deep Thoughts like that, but I was saying to my friend that it doesn't seem like the Sun asks those kinds of questions about God and faith. Maybe that's my fault. I do consider myself religious, and I wholeheartedly believe in God but I guess it's so "everyday" to me that I don't really have those kinds of talks with The Sun. But I've noticed he's starting to pray... hmmm.

Anyway. The Sun tends to go in very round about ways to get to the thing that he's thinking about. Kip's death has affected him very much, as has UNN1's suffering. He doesn't say much about it, but every so often I get a glimpse at his face, especially when we're talking to her, and I know he's thinking about it. And in a very off-handed way, he's brought up the subject of my death. It was so "off-the-cuff" it took me a minute to realize it was something he was thinking about... and actually, it was more that he made about 3 comments in the space of as many days that made me realize anything. So, practical me discussed if I *did* pass, where would he want to live? With the Moon, he replied. "Not your dad?" "Nope," he said. So then we talked about Nana and Poppy moving in to this apartment with him. A classmate of his lost his mother last year, and his father is VERY much like TF, and the classmates grandparents moved in to where the classmate already lived so that classmate could have some semblance of continuance (I don't think it's working, though but that's another story). That was amenable to him. I asked him what about living with Auntie? but he didn't like that idea too much. He says they're too loud. I told him though, that Auntie would take good care of him and he'd be OK. But then I told him that I had no intention of dying for quite some time, and he accepted that.

So TF is definitely on the "Dark Side" of his moon these days. He knows he missed a court date, he knows that the lawyers are trying to get him to sign this agreement. He didn't say anything to the Sun about his costume "concerns", but he's been very "prickly" on the phone these last few days. Unlike me, who used to a.) try to joke him out of it until I realized that just wasn't possible, b.) try to "deep, heartfelt" talk him out of it, until I realized it just wasn't possible or c.) react and allow him to drag me into an argument which was usually what happened, the Sun either listens politely and then changes the subject, or gets off the phone. Usually, he just gets off the phone.

Phone conversations have been very brief this week. Last night on the way home, we stopped in to the store on the ground floor of our building to look for a birthday present for TinyOne. While we were in there, TF called the Sun's cell phone. The conversation was about a minute long, so I asked the Sun how was dah? To which he replied "PRICK" and while I was being floored by that he added "LY!".

There was this whole AlecBaldwin-esque lecture, apparently, about "either you call tonight or tomorrow, and tell me now what it's going to be." So the Sun told him "tomorrow." When he told me this, I said, well, maybe you really ought to call him back when we get upstairs. "No" he said emphatically. "Tomorrow."

We checked on UNN1 (Thumbelina had her surgery yesterday and it went very well) and he had cookies and Silk, a shower, and then bed. As I tucked him in I asked again if he didn't want to call his dad to say "goodnight" and he said no, he was too prickly and he didn't want to talk to him. I said "I'm sorry, honey, that you have to deal with that," and he said "Why did you choose him for my father?"

Talk about your show stoppers.

I often joke to grownups that TF is why they tell you "Don't Drink and Drive" since at the time that I met him I was doing an awful lot of that. Drinking, I mean. But he seemed nice enough, and he was good looking, and rigged a fancy dress contest so I'd win and at the time it seemed sweet. So we went out on a date. He and a friend or two came out with me and Beautiful Hair and some other friends. He got mad that I wouldn't dance to "Oh Ricky You're So Fine" but he didn't do anything that rang any bells... it's only hindsight that has made me realize I should have looked a little deeper. The next time we went out, the following week or so, he ended up staying over (though I didn't tell that to the Sun).

Three or four days later, we had a HUGE fight. Or rather, he blew up at me over something really trivial. It was so out of proportion to the situation that it floored me. And that's the point I should have cut him loose... but I didn't because when he called a few days later he talked about being vulnerable, and that he was sorry blah blah blah. These days, a conversation like that will have me running, but back then I really had no frame of reference. I don't know why I didn't walk away the next time, though. Or the time after that. Or a year later. But then I got pregnant.

But all I said to the Sun last night was that I should have known... I should have left him alone right away except then I wouldn't have the Sun. "Yes you would" he said, "I would just look different, but I'd be the same person."

Suppose that were true? I'd actually never thought about it like that which made me laugh. But I told him I loved him just the way he is now, and that he got his math ability and his physical coordination from his dah, and all of the other good traits he has. We talked about multiple personalities--the Sun knew what that was, as it had come up the other day. Thumbelina has multiple personalities, with names and everything. The Sun informed me he thinks his father has several, and that he's met them. He said they had specific traits.

I can't much argue with him. He knows his father as well as I do, so I'm not ruling out the possibility of what he says. He certainly handles him better than I ever did, though sometimes it drains him. Hell, it damn near broke me.

Today in Karate he hit a "wall" and wanted to leave, but I wouldn't let him. It was hard; I looked at him and I could see he was suffering but I told him I couldn't let him quit. He had to finish the class, he had to fight through. At one point, we stood out in the hall arguing quietly, and he just crumpled, and I realized what it was all about. I told him I knew it was about his dah, but he had to go finish and that the Senseis would be proud of him for coming back. And they were.

Both of them were surprisingly gentle and understanding, and when I explained a little about the week of terse phone calls, BigBrotherSensei went in privately to the changing room with the Sun, and said a few words. Neither of them told me what was said. And LittleBrotherSensei taught him a new kata which changed the Sun's whole outlook.

There are times when I wonder how crazy I am for dragging the Sun up to Yonkers three or four times a week, but days like today is when I know I'm right for doing so. I told the Sun that he needed the Senseis... that I couldn't teach him to be a man, but they could. And that they need him, because I think the Sun is now one of the highest ranking kids in their new dojo. Everyone else has quit.

Eight years old. Sometimes I feel terribly guilty for him having to deal with all this now... particularly since I know he'll be dealing with it for a long time to come.

But hey. At least he lives in one place and eats normal food and goes to a regular school, right? We all have our crosses to bear....


Carrie said…
You are such a good mom! And those trips to Yonkers kill ME, just reading about them, but I absolutely understand why you keep going and you are doing a great thing for the Sun by giving him the Sensei.

Good job Jesi!

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