Saturday morning was going well. Driving to social skills play group, we bounced and wriggled to “Jump Around”, by Cypress Hill. Me and the boy, we’ve got mad car dancing skills.
And then, for no good reason, Michael Jackson messed up my morning.
See, Connor likes to know the name of the song and artist for each and every song on the radio. And after “Jump Around” ended, “Remember the Time” came on the radio. Of course, he asked, and I told him. But this time he had an additional question.
“Who’s Michael Jackson?”
“Oh, well, he’s a really great singer and dancer, but he died.” There was really no reason for me to add the part about him being dead. I could have left that part out, and our morning would have continued as planned. But I didn’t, and it didn’t.
Cue the questions about death. I explained how medicine helps our bodies, but too much can hurt us or even kill us. This was all well and good, but he had another question.
“But where is Michael Jackson?”
“I told you, he’s dead.”
“I know, but where is he?”
And then it dawned on me that he didn’t have a concept of our social rites concerning death. “You mean, where is he now that he’s dead?”
So of course I explained about being buried at the cemetery. There was really no reason to discuss the fact that he’s probably entombed in a gold-plaited, diamond-studded, ga-zillion dollar mausoleum.
And since Connor, like me, is very visual, he wanted to see a graveyard. And since I, or course, am rather unorthodox myself, agreed to take him to a cemetery after play group, because that’s what parents do, right? They take their six-year-olds on field trips to graveyards. There happens to be a small, old cemetery between his play group office and our home, and I’d wanted to check it out anyway.
Now he has a little friend at play group, Chloe, that we get together with sometimes. And so walking out from play group, Connor turns to Chloe and her mom and invited them to go to the “people graveyard” with us, as though it’s some sort of fun outing, like a movie or park. And of course, I’m met with two sets of wide open eyes.
It was fun, trying to explain that.
At the cemetery, I explained about the headstones and the people buried at each one. But mostly, I spent my time giving orders.
“No, don’t touch that rock. It’s not a “rock”, it’s a small headstone with no writing on it.”
“No, don’t sit on that wall. It’s a memory wall that someone built to remember the people buried here that aren’t identified.”
“No, don’t dig at the dirt with your sneaker. NO, we are not going to dig up any bones.”
“No, do NOT go in the gate around the tombstone. Why in the name of all that’s holy do you think there’s a gate there? Because they don’t want people to go IN.”
“No, we ARE NOT going to climb a tree at the graveyard. BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A PARK, IT’S A GRAVEYARD!”
“No, you may not take the flowers. People left those flowers there to remember someone that died.”
Apparently, I was a humongous graveyard buzzkill, because all of a sudden, he plops himself down on a cemented-in grave and begins to pout. And I, of course, still being rather unorthodox, took a photo of my pouty child sitting on a grave.
“You won’t let me do anything fun at the graveyard.”
Yeah, time to wrap it up.
All in all, it was a rather successful, if unusual, outing. Upon returning to the car, Connor said:
“Mommy, that was sure fun, remembering people under the ground.”
“Uhhhh, sure honey.”
“But it wasn’t fun when they died, Mommy.”
No, probably not. But I’m sure they’d be happy to know that a boy had fun dancing across their graves and chasing squirrels.
Editors note: “Jump Around” is sung by House of Pain, not Cypress Hill. I know this. Really. But I had Cypress Hill on my mind when I wrote this…”Insane in the Brain” perhaps???