This weekend I tackled some big issues with Casey: where babies come from and what happened to the baby Jesus.
His aunt came over for dinner Saturday evening so Casey and his cousin could play a little longer (my brother and I had taken the kids to Sea World for a couple hours after their afternoon naps). Aunt Tram is pregnant and due with their second child mid-June. She's a petite woman, so the baby really has no place to grow but out.
I tried explaining to Casey that Aunt Tram had a baby in her tummy. He lifted his own shirt and looked down at his stomach. "No," I chided. "Only girls can carry babies."
"She eat the baby?" Casey asked.
Tram and I chuckled. "No, honey. The baby is in Aunt Tram's uterus." I pulled out Casey's How I Was Adopted book and turned to the page which shows the insides of the pregnant woman's middle. "See?" I pointed. "The baby grows inside the uterus. It's inside Aunt Tram's belly, but not in her stomach."
"Baby belly!" cried out Joey, Casey's 2 1/2 year old cousin.
"Oh . . ." Casey looked uncertain. Aunt Tram let Casey rub her belly, but the baby wasn't kicking.
"Casey, your birth mom Angie carried you in her tummy."
"Angie?" Casey asked tentatively.
"Yes. All babies come from inside someone's belly-- from their uterus."
"You went to China to get Marcie?" He asked tentatively.
"Yes, Casey. We went to China to get Marcie. And we went to Ohio to get Casey. But both Casey and Marcie came from a uterus."
This last sentence was met with this response: "Joey, let's go play Thomas!"
Then, this morning, we went to church. In retrospect, perhaps Palm Sunday was not the best day to drag the kids to mass. But I have been going on my own during lent at school, and there was not going to be a student mass this week because of spring break. So off to our usual church we went. We sat in the back row, close to the cry room. I came with toy trains. And cars. A block. Two books. And plenty of snacks. I'm pretty sure the church frowns on snacks-- but that's clearly a rule created by people who do not have toddlers. So snacks I brought.
I thought things started out okay. The priest led a palm processional (we stayed inside during this). Then we had the first reading. Casey helped me sing the responsorial psalm. Then we had the New Testament reading. So far so good. Then, the passion. This has to be one of the longest Gospels of the year. And it was hard to hear. And Casey started asking questions.
Here is essentially how our conversation went:
"Mommy, where's the baby Jesus?"
"Aha!" I thought. "Apparently I did such a fine job teaching Casey the story of Jesus' birth, he still thinks of Jesus as a baby."
"Mommy!" His whispering became more urgent. "Where's the baby Jesus?!?" Slight pause, followed by, "Are we going to sing happy birthday?"
"No, Casey," I whispered back. "The baby Jesus became a big boy. And then He died. But it's okay, Casey-- because He came back to life. That's called the Resurrection. And that's what we celebrate at Easter." Hmm. Perhaps that's not a totally clear explanation. Casey looked a little confused.
He furrowed his brown. He whispered a little louder this time. "Mommy, where's the baby Jesus?"
"Casey, the baby Jesus became a big boy. He died. But He came back to life."
"He was sick before he died?" Casey asked. This has been a bit of an obsession for him. Casey keeps asking us about Chuffy, our pet pug who died in late June 2006. Casey keeps asking when he's coming back and if Chuffy is still sleeping. This is a hard concept for any four-year old. But particularly for one who has a hard time processing language.
"No. He wasn't sick Casey. The people got mad at him, so they killed him. Then he came back to life." Hmm. That might not be a good explanation-- what if Casey thinks we'd hurt him if we got mad at him? Yikes.
"He died?" Casey asked.
"Yes," I replied.
Then he was quiet for a while. Later, while Jason was holding Casey, Casey turned to his dad and asked, "Daddy, where's the baby Jesus?"
Jason explained, "He grew up Casey?"
"He grew up?" Casey asked.
"Yes," said Jason.
"Well, where is he?" Casey wanted to know.
Jason and I exchanged furtive glances. Then Casey craned his neck around someone in front of us, pointed at the choir director and called out, "I see him! I see the baby Jesus. He's all growed up!" We almost busted up laughing at him and had to shush him.
This was followed not long after by Casey and Marcie enjoying a bowl of popcorn quietly (thankfully). They did a terrific job not spilling the food. Until it was time to say The Our Father prayer. Casey was standing up on the pew, Marcie was on my hip, and Casey was holding the hand attached to the arm holding Marcie in place. Jason was holding Casey's other hand. I sort of pushed Casey down the pew so Jason could reach out his other hand to the woman across the aisle. Casey's shoe hit the contraband bowl with just a few pieces of popcorn and several kernels of corn, and the food went flying over the back of the pew, spilling onto the floor behind us.
So I'm sure everyone is looking forward to our reappearance next Sunday. . .