How to Fall

No one told me that the age of four is the age of we-will-try-to-talk-you-out-of-going-to-bed-every-single-night.

The latest bedtime avoidance technique is called Three Million Questions.

I have explained away why we do not have chicken on Thanksgiving, why it does not snow in the summer and why I can’t make the snow come RIGHT. NOW. MOMMY.

Once heavy heads sink to pillows and blankets are gratefully tucked, they whisper questions about their sister.

Where is she now?

How did she get there?

How long will she be gone?

How long after that?

I wish I had the answers.

Somehow, I never received my copy of The Perfect Way to Explain Death to Hopeful Four Year-Old Eyes.

Trying to steady my voice I answer as best I can, hoping someone asks me something easy next, like how babies are made.

And in the pause of my reply I remind myself how much I need to teach them about life, to lessen the burden of death.

I want them to know how to leap.

How to run with the sun at your back.

jumping in leaves

How to jump but not too high.

How to brace yourself so the ground cradles your fall.

How to brush at grass-stained knees, crunch the leaves in your hair

and carry your scars gracefully.

throwing leaves

Because they are yours.

Wearing them is part of who you are…

strong, brave

and alive.

king of the world

Happy Veterans Day to my husband and all of the men and women who have served our country. You are amazing examples of what it means to persevere.

playing in leaves

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  1. says

    This is so beautiful. And I used to do this to my mom, but not at age four. I was around seven and I thought I was so brilliant to hop out of bed, find her and ask her questions like, “How do flowers grow?” I tired of it fast, though..
    Tamara recently posted..It’s Like Relationships.

  2. says

    Happy Veteran’s Day to your wonderful husband. You teach your babies so much about life every day, and I am confident you are helping them understand about Hadley as much as they can at each of the different stages of their own lives.

  3. says

    Our scars, though they may fade, are indelible in what they leave behind, in the ways that they change us. Of course, not everyone wears their scars with such grace.

    You? Are amazing. And those kids? Are crazy-lucky to call you Mom.
    Angie @ The Little Mumma recently posted..Fat Belly Blues

  4. says

    I loved this entire post, but this is my favorite line:
    “I need to teach them about life, to lessen the burden of death.”

    It made me think of the connection between the word “lessen” and “lesson”;
    the challenge of teaching our children in ways that ease the pain and maximize the joys…while still being honest with them.

    Truths can be hard or beautiful or both.
    Just like finding the right words.
    julie gardner recently posted..Today call me recruited

  5. says

    It is so hard to explain the unexplainable (especially to 4 year olds who want snow in the summer).

    There is a story about dragonflys and waterbugs which I have started to tell my 2 4 year olds. The cliff notes version is that a group of waterbugs live under water. Every once in awhile they notice one in the group going up above the water. The group agree that if they ever go up above the water they will come tell the others. Finally, the main character waterbug goes up above the water. He becomes a dragonfly and cannot return to under the water to tell the other water bugs what happened to him. I wrote a longer version of this in a post. I can send you the link to the post or the book if you are interested.

    I have no clue if this story makes any sense to 4 year olds but I like it. Sorry for such a long comment!

    Happy Veterans day to your husband!! Hope you all have a good weekend. Take care.
    Lanie recently posted..Memories & Moments

    • says

      Oh so tough, my kids are so much younger than their sister with autism that I haven’t gotten many questions about her yet. I have had a few about different things that she does but they don’t understand the word autism yet, I’m sure that day is coming.
      Jessica recently posted..How to Fall

  6. Nana says

    Absolutely beautiful Jessica, I can visualize everything you write about as if I’m in the moment with you. Blessings to Mark

  7. says

    Such difficult things to discuss with children but based on the smiles on their faces, you are doing one heck of a job.

    Please tell you husband thank you for his service.

  8. says

    Your family is so lucky to have you, sweet friend. You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t have to show them what to do. By watching you, and having you, they will turn out just fine.
    Krista recently posted..Sick day