I’ve been having all sorts of fascinating conversations with my son lately. He just turned three. He’s not only a sponge for language, but his fantasy world is rich, often logical, surprising. He’ll rattle off a five minute narrative that begins with something concrete (the toilet overflowed) and leads to detailed fantasy (the account of building the boat after the entire house filled with water). We’ve been discussing, for weeks, the difference between “drain” and “drought.” A drought is hard to grasp, I guess. It equals “drain” in his speech. We can’t put more water in the bathtub because of the drought. And maybe the leaky drain.

Lately he’s been talking about dying: “Pick up the elephant [stuffed toy] or he will die! He fell into the water [the floor by the couch].” The couch is the boat, of course. Neither his father or I have cable, so he doesn’t watch much t.v. He watches his share of dvds, but they’re Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, that kind of thing. I’ve figured out he gets a lot of information from school, a Montessori school where ages 3-6 are in the same class. It’s a pretty structured class, but they do have time to chat on the playground.

Me: “Keegan, what is die? What do you mean?”

Him: “Die? That’s when you get lost.” (Looking at me like I’m an idiot for asking)

His explanation broke my heart. For one, it’s an appropriate explanation for his age. Or maybe it is what really happens. Maybe death is getting lost. I like that idea. So. I’ve been telling him not to worry about the elephant getting lost, that he’s just fine, that our boat is safe. But he has a mind for the dramatic. And there will always be older kids on the playground. We’ll see what comes up next week.

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