A day or two ago, I was reminded of a 'moment' I had with Seth back in August...on the 6th day of August, to be precise...the day my cat died.
The kids had been home for six or seven weeks at that point and their language, while coming along nicely, was not exactly sufficient for having a conversation about death. But somehow the point needed to be made that Frodo was not coming home. We tried various ways of explaining it, but were a little bit stumped. Finally, though, something clicked with Seth, and we could see the 'lightbulb' go on in his eyes.
"Died?" he asked, repeating the word I'd used.
Simultaneously, he pulled his finger across his throat and made a croaking sound. Clearly, this was a boy who had seen a few too many animals slaughtered.
His next words: "eat cat supper?" He smacked his lips.
These days, having moved beyond the grip of that sad day's emotions, I get that that was pretty funny. But it didn't seem funny at the time, when my heart was full of the sadness of losing my beloved old cat; I retreated, crying and angry and hurt, into my bedroom, wondering what kind of heartless child we'd just committed our lives to. Nor did it seem funny when Seth did the same finger-across-the-throat-and-croak thing when my uncle passed away, though thankfully he didn't make any mention of dinner on that occasion.
But a couple of days ago, I got to experience a moment of my own...and it felt sweet.
I learned this weekend that, while living at our agency's transition house in Ethiopia, Seth once visited the home of one of the transition house staff. In the course of playing with another boy there, Seth was engaged in throwing rocks at some birds flying around the woman's yard. He then sadly told me because he was a "good shooter," he had actually hit one of the poor birds with a big rock. Eyes brimming with tears, Seth leaned in to me for a bit of comfort...
...which he did not find in my arms in that moment.
I pulled my finger across my throat and croaked loudly, then raised my eyebrows in that universal sign of a question mark. He looked shocked and horrified, and pushed away from me.
But I wasn't quite done with him yet. No, not yet.
"Eat bird supper?" I asked with a straight face, trying not to laugh.
He was not amused. He waved his finger in my face and stomped off, yelling his outrage over his shoulder at me.
Truly people, I do not normally laugh in the face of my children's rage. But I did two days ago. I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.