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My son meets his mortality in a storybook

Tonight we read Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel at bedtime. There’s a point early in the book when a time machine is introduced. You, the reader, are informed that you can go back to when you were a baby or into the future when you’re an old man.

I paused and said to my son, “Someday you will be an old man, isn’t that silly?” Or something like that.

He froze. Then he cautiously said “But I won’t die, will I?” I quickly said, “I don’t think you need to worry about that right now, let’s continue the story…”

He interjected with a cry, “And you won’t need me anymore!" He sobbed.

I think in that moment he realized he might be old and alone, and yes, he might die. And worse, I think he even steered his 4-year-old brain away from the idea that I will die. I hugged him and I said, “I will always need you. I will always love you. You are safe.”

He kept sobbing, I kept holding him and trying to whisper reassurances and we recovered soon and finished the book with laughs.

I wussed out, I think smartly, on dealing with it any more heads-on tonight. I might not be able to punt much longer. He has a hell of a memory and a lock on things that perturb him. I will hear about his or my death from him again soon.