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Warning: Do Not Answer That Question

by Alex Iwashyna

in Is It Just Me?, Motherhood, My Daughter, My Son

My son: Mama, what number are people when they die?

Me: You mean, what age?

I’m only stalling because I can’t remember average age of death for Americans. And because my birthday is coming up so choosing any number in the 70s is only 40 years away. {sigh}

Me: 80-100 years old.

My son nods slowly. I return to the LEGOs.

E: Mama? I’m going to miss you when you die.

I look up to see big puppy dog eyes filled to the brim.

And I think: OH NO. IT WAS A TRAP!

Me: Oh sweetie, it’s okay.

E: I’m going to be so sad.

{cue crying}

My daughter, not to be outdone, runs over to me, throws her arms around me and says: Mama, I’m going to miss you SO MUCH.

E and N: You’re my best friend. It’s going to be so lonely without you.

{cue inconsolable sobbing for ten minutes}

I’m faced with offering up my immortality like some forgotten stepsister from the Twilight series who wears pink monkey pants to bed and doesn’t even like the woods. Or what? Patting their backs afraid to say It’ll be a long time from now because I’m pretty sure that guarantees me a terrible accident tomorrow?

I continue to squeak out sympathy as my little children weep and rail against the unfairness of life. Against mothers dying and children being left alone. Against the unknown. Against the relentlessness of time and humanity.

Suddenly, I blurt out over the cacophony of hysteria over my death: Hey guys, do you want to watch Inspector Gadget?

E jumps up off his tear-soaked chair: Oh, yeah!

N let’s go of my leg and stands up to say: He’s funny!

Go go Gadget Mama.

But if I think that I’ve gotten away with it, I need to go no further than EVERY OTHER CONVERSATION I NOW HAVE WITH MY SON.

Me: I’m hungry.

E: Me, too. But then you’ll be 100 and you’re going to die.

He shrugs and walks back to his LEGOs.

{cue crying} {by me}

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie August 14, 2011 1

I like the shrug at the end. Too funny. I was also born in 1978. I’m pretty sure we’ll have immortality figured out before it’s my time to go.


Tracie August 15, 2011 2


He really has accepted your imminent death.

I remember watching Inspector Gadget when I was little (the cartoon with Don Adams, not the movie) and I loved it. Now I’m kind of missing it.


Late Enough August 15, 2011 3

We are watching the TV show! It’s on instant Netflix and it’s awesome. (I forgot there was a movie. Any good?)


Tracie August 15, 2011 4

I kind of remember the movie being a let down…but it is been YEARS, so it might be worth a try.

I am going to have to see if they have the tv show on Hulu, because if so, I know what Katarina and I will be doing today.


Alexandra August 15, 2011 5

Oh, I’m on to those questions… Like a h awk.

You,,you’re just too pure of heart and don’t see 3 jumps ahead. Because you’re not all wary and suspectful like me.



Sunday August 15, 2011 6

I remember having this same conversation with my mom when I was a little girl…if memory serves the sobbing and crying went very much the same way.


Klz August 15, 2011 7

Seriously – who likes the woods? Theres got to be an urban twilight sect out there somewhere.


Marge Wood August 15, 2011 8

Life goes on.


Megan (Best of Fates) August 15, 2011 9

If I find the cure to death I will totally share it.



Walt August 15, 2011 10

In the immortal words of Admiral Akbar…”IT’S A TRAP!!!” You betcha. Now watch for the others:
1. How do you make babies? (WAY different from where do babies come from).
2. Is Santa real?

Kindergarten is a cess pool of unregulated information.

Good luck


Missy @ Wonder, Friend August 15, 2011 11

We have had nearly identical conversations, right down to the “what number” question. My answer was “it’s different for everyone” and let me tell you – that did not satisfy H.

I have the same fear that if I say something like “it’s a long way off” I’ll end up dead in the next 15 minutes, leaving my child devastated and skeptical for the rest of his life.

Where is the playbook with all the answers about this kind of stuff? I am woefully unprepared.


Alexandria August 15, 2011 12

O.M.F.G I would have lost it right along with my kids. You handled it like a trooper.


vikki August 15, 2011 13

i totally tell them it won’t be for a long, long, long time. i figure if i die tomorrow they’re going to have much bigger things to deal with than the fact that i wasn’t straight with them. and it’ll be my husband’s problem.


Lady Jennie August 17, 2011 14

My daughter gets obsessed with that at times – usually at night when she is left alone with her thoughts. She’s afraid of me getting old too, but I tell her – I already am babe!


Jen @ a little barefoot blog August 17, 2011 15

I’m not sure I’ve gotten over that. I feel like doing the same thing to my own mother sometimes. I prefer complete denial.


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