I feel like Rollie has entered his Goth phase about 12 years early. I'm this close to taking him shopping at Hot Topic and downloading him iTunes by The Cure and Bauhaus. Also, I can't find my black eye-liner. But that is possibly because it's in Elsa's mouth right now.
He spent a few days with his cousins last month. These are the cousins who a few months ago saw Rollie as an annoying cling-on whose favorite word was 'poopy' (see All The World's A Pee-Pee Stage). Now they see him as a sort of an expendable henchman, the kind that mumbles 'soda-water rhubarb' in the background and falls the instant one of the boys touches him with a light saber.
Its this act of falling that has sparked his latest fixation: Death.
For the past few weeks I've heard him telling various toys that they died, telling me he died, telling Elsa she's dead. I'll ask him to go put on his socks and he'll just lie there and look up at me and if I sigh and ask him why in name of all that is pure in decent in the world isn't he performing this simple task, he'll explain that he can't because he's dead.
When we're out walking and run across the occasional mangled frog or lizard, he'll ask me if it's dead, and when I say yes instead of the immediate 'why' I used to get, he'll sit quietly for a minute or two, and then begin a whole new inquiry.
Rollie: How did he die?
Me: I don't know...I guess he was run over. Or stepped on.
Rollie: Was he sick?
Me: Maybe. Maybe he was too sick to get out of the way. Maybe he was already dead when he got stepped on.
Rollie: Did anyone see him die?
Me: Um....That I couldn't tell you.
Rollie: Is he sad?
Me: Maybe before he died, but he can't really be sad now. He can't really be anything now. Except maybe bird food. (Nice one. Way to be vaguely existential with a three-year-old.)
Rollie: Why can he be bird food?
Me: Because some birds eat dead animals.
Rollie: Like robins?
Me: No, like vultures.
Rollie: ...It's not fun to be eaten.
Me: I can't imagine it would be, but the dead frog/lizard can't feel anything. He won't know he's being eaten.
Rollie: Will the bird know?
Me: Yeah the bird will know.
Rollie: ...Birds are smart, Momma.
Yesterday I pulled from Rollie's school folder a little packet of coloring worksheets. This week they learned about the letter D. The packet was stapled together, and on the front was the title David and Goliath. I paged through the contents, noting not only Rollie's remarkable coloring skills (and when I say remarkable I mean monochromatic and kind of half-assed), but also the careful approach these worksheets took when depicting the inevitable showdown and its ultimate conclusion...
No mention of why Goliath lost (although I do appreciate that there was no page with the caption David winged a wicked fastball of a stone right between Goliath's eyes that penetrated his skull and killed him), just that he lost. And David won. And David looks really good in a pink tunic.
But later that day Rollie busted out his plastic gladiator gear (see picture at the very top of the blog), and the following conversation ensued:
Rollie: Momma, I'm David and you're Goliath.
Me: Shouldn't I be wearing that stuff if I'm Goliath?
Rollie: ...Momma, you're David and I'm Goliath.
Rollie (squatting and stomping his feet like a sumo wrestler about to engage in some hand-to-hand combat): Raaaaaaahhhh!
Me: Wait...lemme find a sling.
Rollie (not waiting but running at me with his sword brandished): Raaaahhhh!
Me: Rollie, hang on a second.
Rollie (poking me with the end of his sword): I got you Momma. You're dead.
Me: Rollie, do you even understand what that means?
Rollie: ...Momma, did Goliath win?
Me: No, remember? David won.
Rollie: ...and Goliath lost?
Rollie: Did Goliath die?
Me: ...Yeah. He did.
Rollie: Why did Goliath die?
Me (wondering, do I give the scientific reasoning behind death itself, or is he just looking for a general explanation?): David hit him with a rock.
Rollie: ...and David won?
Rollie:...Momma, I'm David and you're Goliath.
When he first started using words like Death and Die in everyday conversations, I tried to discourage it. But I guess I shouldn't. This is just a new phase in learning about the world. I remember around this time last year our fish ate it, and I was so worried Rollie would be upset, he would cry, he would decide right there that the world was a cruel place where you can't escape death and destruction even in your own foyer (see The Quick And...The Not-So-Quick). Now I think I might actually encourage such a conversation. Not that the world sometimes is a cruel place (he's got pleeeenty of time to figure that out), but that death is part of life, and the more he learns about the world, God, and the circle of life, the less afraid he will be, and the more he can focus on the good things in life.
Like The Cure. And vultures eating dead frogs.