Friday, February 22, 2008

The Monkey Started It: Conversations with a First Grader

I, like most parents, believe my children are very smart. Despite that, I am still suprised by some of the talks I have with CJ. I sometimes have to remind myself that he is not quite seven years old.

Last night, while I was tucking CJ in, he asked me for a stuffed animal. When I asked him which one he wanted he pointed to one of the two monkeys that are sitting on a shelf in his room. These monkeys came from my Grandpa Turnage's beloved collection. Before he passed away he said that he wanted each of his young grandkids or great grandkids to have one of his monkeys. When we drove down to Idaho Falls for Grandpa's funeral this was one of the first things I had to do..pick out monkeys for my boys. It was more difficult than I thought and I would like my boys to understand why these monkeys are so special. So when CJ asked for this monkey I explained that I wanted it to stay on the shelf so it could stay nice because it came from Grandpa. I did not realize that this was going to start a deep conversation.

When Grandpa died, Daniel and I decided that CJ and Caleb should not go to the funeral. I knew this would be a difficult time for me as well as other family members and we did not want the boys to be confused and upset. We did, however, explain that Grandpa had died and he had gone up to heaven. Since then the boys have been very open and comfortable about talking about their Grandpa Turnage who is in heaven.

Getting back to last night. CJ asked me why, once you go to heaven, you cannot come back. He said he wanted Grandpa to come back once so he could tell him that he loved and missed him. CJ was so young when Grandpa died that I was suprised he would feel that need to talk to him. We talked about how Grandpa was very funny and made a lot of people happy. I told him about a favorite picture of mine that I keep on my vanity. It is a picture of Daniel and Grandpa, at dusk, in my parents backyard. They both have big grins on their faces and it always reminds me of everything that Grandpa was--happy and funny and always making other people laugh. I told CJ that if he reminded me I would show him this picture in the morning. Then I told him that even though our family members who are in heaven cannot come back, God does make it so that if we tell them that we love them and we miss them, they can hear us. Right then CJ and I both told Grandpa that we love him very much and we miss seeing him.

This morning, while I was getting ready for work, CJ came into my room and the first thing he wanted was to see my favorite picture. CJ asked me if we could put a picture of Grandpa in his room. Of course I said yes and plan to make copies of that picture to hang up.

All of my boys are special, each in their own way. CJ has a very big heart and is always concerned with how other people are doing. CJ and Caleb have a very large family, they have step parents and step siblings. They have a lot of aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. Yet CJ wanted to make sure that Grandpa Turnage, who passed away when CJ was only 5, knew that he loved him and missed him. As he gets older and hears stories and sees pictures he will come to truly appreciate the incredible man that my grandpa was, but for now, it is enough for CJ that Grandpa was a member of our family.

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