Sunday, June 29, 2008

Overheard at the dentist's office

Jee was at the dentist early one morning, getting a spacer put in. It's a great pediatric dentist and the hygienist was talking with him gently, helping him feel appreciated as a little human being rather than just a little human mouth. She asked if he was in school and he replied, “No, I'm on vacation. It's a school holiday.”

The hygienist kept asking questions about what he was doing during vacation and if he was doing anything particularly fun today. He said (and this totally made me laugh), “Today is my sister's birthday! But she's still 5 because she was born at 2:07 in the afternoon so she'll still be 5 until then. Then, at 2:07 she'll automatically be 6. I wonder how many seconds it was... I mean it probably wasn't 2:07 and 0 seconds. There were probably more seconds. I don't know how many seconds it was when she was actually born...” He looks over at me and I know we'll have a long talk in the car on the way home. How do you explain to a child the messiness and imprecision of birth?

I suspect the discussion will involve talk of doctor's declaration of both birth and death being a “moment of judgment” rather than the precise, easily identifiable moment. Jee's little eyes will widen with wonder first, understanding second. I love it when his eyes do that. It's like he's acquiring yet another truth in his repertoire.