Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)
TITLE: Watch Out for P.J.'s Two Second Warnings
By Lillian Rhoades
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Tousled-haired and high-wired, P.J. could pop a question faster than he could pump his tricycle. And believe me, that three-year old could burn some wheels.
From the moment he jumped out of bed until nighttime when he jumped back in, he sprinkled my day with endless Whys and How Comes that always came with a two second warning. First the elbow that rested on the nearest table, and then the hand that cradled his chin. Other times, when there was no table to rest his elbow, I remained in constant alert for the tilted head that always leaned right. When he crossed his little legs, that meant, stand by for the follow-up question.
The pattern of interrogation went something like this: He would ask the question, and then wait for my answer. I, in turn, would wait for the follow-up. Rarely, was there a long wait.
One morning, because curiosity is sometimes contagious, I turned off the cake mixer and turned on the computer to find the answer to: Why was the middle of an egg yellow? What’s a yolk? In the laundry room, folding clothes: Was there fire in the dryer to make the clothes hot? Do they ever get burned? In the garden watering the flowers: Flowers don’t have a mouth, so how do they drink water? How do you know when they’ve had enough?
Some answers had to be translated into kinder-ese. Others couldn’t. Like the one that always accompanied my trip to the bathroom–when his impatient, childish voice floated through the bathroom door: What’s taking you taking so long? Once he insisted on closing the door while HE was in the bathroom, he stopped asking.
When I discovered P.J. would soon have a sister, his Dad and I decided to take the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. There would be time enough for a Pre-K session on reproduction.
What were we thinking!
His first inquiry happened while we waited on line at the check-out counter. P.J.cocked his head to the right, and stared at my stomach. The two second warning was not enough time to divert what I knew was coming.
Why does your tummy look like a balloon? And why is everyone laughing?
After dinner that night, we snuggled in bed with P.J. between us while Tod broke the news about his new sister. P.J. glanced down at my swollen belly, and then wiggled out from between us. He placed his elbow on the bed, and cradled his chin in his hand. To our surprise, he popped a “soft ball” question. So what time will my sister get here?
Tod glanced in my direction, then threw his head back against the pillow and sighed.For now, we had dodged the hard one.
Our summer vacation this year would be P.J’s. last as the only child, so we decided to make it special. We settled on a cottage on Beachhead Island. Early mornings we walked the beach, and when the sun was at its best, Tod and P.J. donned their swimming suits and spent most of the afternoon exploring the water and digging in the sand, while I slept or read.
This was Tod’s turn to field P.J. questions.
At night, we sat out on the porch and counted stars.
Late one morning, P.J. gave us a two second warning. With elbow on the kitchen table and chin cupped in his hand, he popped his first question of the day. We can’t count all the stars, so who can?
“God can,” Tod and I answered in unison.
P.J. tilted his head and crossed his legs.
“How can God do that?”
“God is the One who created the stars.”
“Where is He?”
“He doesn’t have a body like we do, but He lives in heaven.
“Where is heaven?”
“Heaven is in a far away place beyond the sky.”
“Have you ever been there?”
“Not yet, but someday I hope to go there.”
“Can I go with you?”
“Of course, P.J. I want you to come.”
With bucket in hand, he was out the door. That night, after supper, we sat staring out at the vast blackness that settled over the ocean and listened to the gentle thrust of busy waves on the shore. The darkness could not hide P.J.’s two second warning. I caught a glimpse of his tilted head just before he asked, How did my sister get into your tummy?
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