Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Star Student

This coming week, Xander will be the Star Student in his class. That basically means that he will be taking in a posterboard filled with random facts about him, along with pics and things to further illustrate who he is, in a nutshell. He has taken this project on with great relish; he was bursting with excitement about it when I picked him up from school last Tuesday. In fact, he made me panic, because he informed me that the poster was due "tomorrow", which of course is his way of saying "any given point in the future." So it is actually due this coming Tuesday, phew!

So we embarked on this task of figuring out what to put on this poster. We had no shortage of ideas, as Xander is very opinionated and wanted to tell us right away what it was going to look like. In the end, Andy came up with the layout. It was fun to figure out what pictures were going to go on, and even more fun trying to find pictures of me with Xander; there really aren't many! We have to work on that...

This morning when we woke up, the forecast called for snow. I know, crazy. But that's what the news said, so we decided to go out before this storm hit and get these pictures printed up, so we could get to work on the poster. Not long after we left home, Evan fell asleep in the car, and when there's a sleeping baby involved in errands, it's always best to do whatever you can to make sure that sleeping baby stays asleep. I dropped Andy off at Walgreens to pick up the prints we had chosen, and drove around in circles with the two boys until Andy was ready for me to swing by and get him. Once I was in the car with my sons alone, the fun really began.

At first, Xander was kinda quiet. I should have known something was brewing in that little brain of his. He had just cut his finger and I had slapped a Band-Aid on it, so he started asking me about blood. Where does it come from? Why does it come out? What exactly is a boo-boo? But then the questions took a dark turn. Suddenly he wanted to know what happens when all the blood runs out. Now I hate when this happens, and lately it has been happening more and more. Xander will ask these in-depth, rather intelligent questions, but I don't know how to answer them. I'm afraid of honesty in these situations, because the truth will scare him. How do I know that? Well, let's just say he asked me what a skeleton was a couple weeks ago, and I made the mistake of telling him that when we die, we become skeletons. I really think that conversation traumatized him; he was in tears by the end of it. It upset me too, and it got me thinking: how much information should we be giving a child his age?

Which leads me to this morning again. As I said, I didn't want to be brutally honest about the whole blood issue, but the last thing I want to do is start lying to him in answer to these queries. That would just lead me down a dead-end road of lie after lie, and finally he'll be 10 and believe that blood is really liquid rainbows, all because I wanted to spare his little boy feelings about what blood actually is. It's such a toughie, knowing what to say. So, how did I handle this? Well, I'd like to say I handled it really well, and gave him satisfying answers while still maintaining his childlike innocence, but alas, this was not entirely the case. I told him that blood is what makes us live, and he kept pushing about what would happen if we weren't living anymore. I finally said, "Well, if all our blood really ran out, Xander, then we would die." Then came an even harder one: "Well, what happens when we die?" I could honestly say I don't know. But kids don't like it when you don't know answers. You're the grown-up; it's just automatically assumed that you'll know. I did tell him that being dead is like being asleep, because that doesn't sound so bad. But, ugh. I need to brush up on my clever responses to difficult interrogations. And fast, because he just keeps getting more and more curious by the day.

It's hard to know what to say to your kids sometimes, and even harder to prepare in advance for it. You never know what he'll wonder next. He has become increasingly interested in things like dying and in religion, and him asking me the difference between God and Jesus just puts me in a bind. I know that when I answer him, he'll have a follow-up question, and then another and another, until I either confuse him or myself in the process. The bottom line is, I'm trying my best not to take the easy way out by answering with fibs or fairy tales. But it sure is a delicate balance between being honest and potentially scarring him!

Well, in the end, the poster turned out great and he's even more excited now to show it off at school on Tuesday. I'm so glad he gets to take something to school that he takes such great pride in and that he had a hand in creating. Heck, he'll be the one with some explaining to do for a change, since he'll have to tell the story of the pictures and comments he put on there. Let's just hope he doesn't start asking his teachers for a tutorial on where babies come from!

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