I guess If I'd thought about it, I might have been able to anticipate being asked the question and had a more sensitive answer prepared. No, Danny didn't ask the "where do babies come from" question, though honestly, I'd have preferred it.
I was standing at the kitchen counter mixing cole slaw (with my hands, which is the only way to do it when you're making a quantity) when Danny sat down on the floor.
"Granny Annie is Papa's mama?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Who's Mama's mama?"
At this point, my son's only real concept of death is from mice and spiders and I sure didn't want to explain my mother's death in the context of a mouse with its head in a trap. For a split second, I considered telling him she died because she wasn't listening and was climbing on the bookcases, or playing with outlets. I didn't of course, but I thought about it. We all do that right? Think about what would be great answers that we know would never be uttered like;
"Clean up your room or the social workers will come and take you away and you'll have to eat mac and cheese from a box in a foster home."
Anyway, I wiped the coleslaw off my hands and did my best to explain that when people get old and sick they die (I didn't feel the need to explain she died young). I tried to stress how this is normal. To answer the "where did she go?" question, I reminded him of the big cemetery we pass by on our drives to Omaha. This seemed to satisfy him.
"But I'm going to be around for a long time" I tried to reassure him. "How about a hug and kiss?"
At that, he backed against the wall and put his hands up to his face.
"Oh crap, I scared him" I thought. "Danny, I'm sorry if I frightened you, do you want to tell mama what's scaring you?"
My darling little boy cautiously pulled his hands away from his face and still trying to back away from me replied;
"Mama's hands smell like cabbage. No kisses."
You Will Need:
1 quart boiling water
1 head green cabbage, sliced thinly
4 carrots, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
caraway seeds to taste
Slice the cabbage and place in a large pot. Pour boiling water over and let sit five minutes. Drain well. Place in fridge to cool. Grate carrots. Mix the rest into a sauce. Blend the carrots with cabbage and coat well with the dressing. Chill well before serving.