Seven-year-old wisdom

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Since the death of their Great-Grandfather (and the arrival of Wii's Boom Blox, a Spielberg-designed game in which you can choose little Grim Reapers, what Ewan calls "the living dead," as characters) the boys have been fascinated with death. Being children, they talk about it in the frankest of terms; ways of speaking that adults tip-toe and whisper around. Kids are frank because they're innocent. We call them "naïve" because we're cynics. When you're young that forthrightness stems from innocence. When you're old, you're forthright because you realize that living with sugar-coating and dishonesty are worse than the repercussions from being outright.

We were on our way to have lunch with the boys' Great-Grandmother, Chris's Grandma, and Chris was lecturing Liam on how he shouldn't bring up Great-Grandpa's death. The last time we talked to him it was right before a phone call to Great-Grandma and we instructed him to not mention it. He got on the phone and was all "Hi Great-Grandma. Hey, I'm real sorry about YOU KNOW WHAT, you know, about YOU KNOW WHO dyin' an all? But I'm not supposed to talk to you about that because Mom and Dad don't want me to." Chris and I would've grabbed him and shook the phone away but we were driving, belted in our seats, so the worst we could do was to mime idle threats from the front seats.

So we're in the van, on our way to lunch and we're involved in the same "don't talk about death and dying, please, dear God, just don't, we're really serious this time" conversation.

"Don't even mention it," barked Chris. "None of the dying stuff."

"Why?" Liam asked.

"Because Great-Grandma is still upset. Her husband isn't here anymore."

"Well Dad, you know, he's always with us."

"You're right, Bub," Chris replied, realizing that he had just been owned by a seven-year-old.

I looked at Chris; he looked at me, both of us with incredulous expressions. I turned around to look at Liam in his booster seat, his spindly legs and feet still half-a-foot from the floor. He stared out of his window at the traffic zooming past in the opposite direction.

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