In this short daily drive to and fro the boys and I have some interesting talks. Just this week, Big Dog, out of the blue asked about Mao.
"Mama, what happened to our other dog?"
"What other dog," I asked, momentarily confused.
"Mao. Did he die?"
"Yes, he did," I answered, feeling his loss well up in me again.
"Should we leave stuff for him?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Did people bury him in the ground?" he asked again.
"No, sweetie. We didn't bury him. If we want to remember him, we just need to think about him. We just know he was with us."
He thought about this for a minute then asked, "Did he get shot?"
'Oh no, Big Dog. He died peacefully. He died at home while I held him. Nothing terrible like that." And we drove in silence the rest of the route to school.
On the way home they both started in on the other side of things.
"Did you make us?" asked Little Dog.
"Yep." I answered, not knowing where this was coming from.
"How?" asked Big Dog.
I thought is over. I've discussed the basics of this topic with Big Dog, who looked at me with a look of disbelief then shook his head and told me "You're kidding." I knew the two minutes remaining in our evening commute was not enough time to go over the subject in adequate detail described in simple terms for their young minds. Given the constraints, I thought over the options and did what every savvy mother before me has done. I went back to the basics.
"Ask your papa. He's a scientist." Yeah, I'm a total failure at this mother gig.