Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

in which Sugar encounters her inner bitch and the Bean discovers his own mortality


Sugar here.

By all accounts the Bean is doing very well in school. They love him and have been telling us how much he has been changing and growing. He now sings songs to himself around the apartment that I don’t really know (“dem bones, dem bones, dem DRY bones…”) He talks a blue streak. He kisses his sister. He also knocks her over when she tries to come near his projects. He is attention-seeking and LOUD and BANANAS around the apartment. I wish we lived in a football field.

In the changing and growing department, the Bean has now encountered kids who don’t want to play with him. His school is mixed ages 2-4 and the four year olds have a certain je ne sai quoi that everyone wants. Two of them in particular are attractive to the Bean, but he is not that attractive to them. Both of these kids are named after American presidents, so from here on they will be known as Presidential One and Presidential Two.

One day after school I watched as he ran around the playground after Presidential One, sort of playing with him (?), only to be brained with a tire swing as P One either forgot that the Bean was near by or had never noticed him in the first place. After trying to answer the sad question, “Why did P One DO THAT?” (“I think it was an accident, honey”) and wiping away the tears, I tried to remedy the situation by at least having them say goodbye to one another before we left the playground. P One’s too-cool-for-school mother was with him and looked around at me like I was trying to crash her party. “Oh, they were playing together before, so I thought they would like say goodbye,” I said. “They were?” she asked, as though this were both unbelievable and undesirable. “Well, bye then,” I said lamely to P One and tried to get the Bean to wave. P One never noticed.


Days later, I took the Bean to school and we were the first ones there. I have to do early drop-off because otherwise I can’t get to work on time. Every day that I do this I am grateful for how independent the Bean is. He just goes over to one of the activities they have out for the kids to choose from, starts playing, receives his kiss goodbye, and seems happy as a clam.

On this particular day the Bean took me over to a bunch of legos on a shelf and carefully explained and P One and P Two were working with them the last time they were all at school together. “Ok.” I said. “I don’t think that P One and P Two would like me touching their stuff…” The Bean said looking longingly at one of the big flat legos on the shelf. “Well, go play with the legos in the big box out on the floor then,” I said. “Ok.” The Bean went over and started sadly taking legos out of the box. “But I really want one of the flat pieces,” he said then. There were no flat pieces in the big box.

“You know,” I said, looking around to see if I was observed and gleefully dismantling the haloed legos, “P One and P Two aren’t here. This isn’t their stuff anymore. It belongs to your school. Here you go, one flat piece for your enjoyment. Play with it on the floor though.”

Then I felt bad for the rest of the work day because maybe I was teaching my son to be retaliatory and resentful? At least I didn’t say, “P One and P Two don’t play with you so they can go to hell,” as my own mother would have done…

And then there was the realization the Bean made this past weekend.

Bionic and the Bean were watching a documentary on the national parks system which currently was covering the FDR era. The Bean started asking questions about the people mentioned. Did we know any of them (no, they are too old). Well then did we know anyone old enough to know them (not really) and finally, where are all those people now?

“They’re dead,” Bionic said neutrally.

And since we’ve arrived at the age of why, the Bean then asked, “why?”

“Most people eventually die,” Bionic said. “All people.”

“WHAT?” the Bean asked, “Even ME?”

“Well, yes.”

“But I don’t want to go away! I want to stay here!” Then followed a half hour of crying and being rocked by Bionic on the couch, all the while staring at us like how could we possibly tell him such a terrible thing, after which Bionic abruptly decided that they would make chocolate icing and frost a cake.

At least his favorite baby sitter came to take care if him that night so we could go out for our anniversary. During which time we tried very hard not to talk about death.

8 thoughts on “in which Sugar encounters her inner bitch and the Bean discovers his own mortality

  1. Aw. Poor kiddo. Tough stuff for all of you. Happy anniversary, though!

  2. E. hit upon the whole death thing this summer while we were visiting Q’s family down under. We had a whole lot of “I don’t want to ever get old and die” outbursts followed by floods of tears. He seems to be processing it a bit better now although he still asks me at least once a week when he’s going to die. I find it all very upsetting, both because he is upset by the whole concept and because I never feel like I’m answering his questions properly.

    Happy anniversary!

  3. Ah, the Death and Dying conversation. When it came up the first time (a friend’s baby girl had leukemia and was hospitalized for six months: ‘Baby M is very very sick and has to go the hospital where the doctors will do their best to help her… well, no, we’re not sure if she’ll be okay, but we hope so…’) I did reassure him that *most* people live long lives before they die. That conversation sucks, but lying would suck more?

    “Why are other kids mean?” is another fun one for sure.

  4. Oh. Thanks for the heads-up – I don’t remember any such conversations from when I was little, even though I’m sure it must have come up. I can’t quite imagine the magnitude. Poor Bean.
    But I do hope you had a nice anniversary dinner nonetheless. With other conversation topics.

  5. I love your mother’s attitude!

  6. Oh, I hate hate hate it when they don’t want to play! I’ve only seen it once with E and a meanie four year old (why is it always that age?) and it broke my heart. And made me want to be mean back, which is not ok, even if it is instinctual. But don’t worry–next year they’ll be in kindergarten and there is NO WAY the fourth graders are going to give them the time of day.

  7. 1) Humans are stupid. Sometimes people are mean and hurtful, intentionally or otherwise.
    2) Children are small humans. This does not, however, mean that their hurtfulness is smaller in proportion.

    I’m here to validate your parenting– you handled the Bean situation beautifully. Don’t spend your time worrying about what idiots think of you. Get out there and enjoy the legos. Good life lessons at any age.

  8. Oh wow, I am so apprehensive about entering this world of watching others be hurtful (inadvertently or otherwise) to my babies. My lower lip quivered on the Bean’s behalf. And on yours–what a horrible mother P1 must have. I can’t wait until P1 is courting the attention of kids like the Bean, who will obviously grow up to have a personality, which turns out to be attractive to others. And yes, TAKE THE LEGOS. What you said is entirely true, and these lego hoarding Bean ignoring monsters must be stopped!

    DEATH. We haven’t gotten there yet, but this sounds like a really good approach. The truth, followed by consolation, followed by cake.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s