I am not a morning person (though I really, really, want to be...must add this to my to-do list). This is unfortunate because Ethan seems to bring up topics that have led to some of our most important conversations in the car on the way to school. To date, we have covered gay marriage, whether or not my mother and father love each other anymore (they've been divorced for decades), how babies are made (bought myself some time for that one by telling him that I'll tell him when he's ten), what Botox is and why people use it, and most recently, why we euthanize pets. I should point out here that our home is just one mile from Ethan's school. I would also like to remind everyone that these are not topics raised by me. I can barely see in the morning, never mind having the brain power to examine and theorize the long-lasting emotional effects on divorced couples.
Getting back to the whole pet thing....it started off innocently enough...
Ethan: Mommy, remember that dog you had when you were little? How did it die?
Me: Uh...well...she was very old and very sick and couldn't really walk. (Hold my breath hoping this ends the conversation as we are coming up on the carpool line, but deep down know that Ethan knows I haven't answered the question).
Ethan: But, how did she DIE?
Of course he wouldn't settle for some vague, wave of the hand response. He wants details (wonder who he gets that from) and of course he needs them at 7:20 a.m. before I've even had my coffee. I explain that when a dog is very sick and in a lot of pain that the owners will decide, along with the vet, that it would be better to not allow the dog to continue living. I told him how the dog gets a shot and gets put to sleep and doesn't wake up again. I wait for all of this to be absorbed.
Ethan looks at me with giant eyes and says, disgusted, "You killed your dog!?!? That's horrible!"
Eyeing the carpool line because I am dangerously close to the door of Ethan's school and knowing I can't send him into the building thinking I am a cold-blooded murderer, I stammer through an explanation about how it is really much more compassionate to do that if you know the animal won't get better. And I remind him that it's not called killing, it's called putting the dog "down" or "to sleep". He looks at me suspiciously and appears to accept what I have to say, but for good measure asks how I felt after Jessie died and wants to know if I cried.
Me: "Yes, I cried. A lot."
Ethan: "For how long?"
Me: (feeling like am on a witness stand instead of in my minivan) "Days. I cried for days. I still cry every once in a while if I see a dog that looks like her."
Satisfied that I am showing adequate remorse, Ethan hops out of the car and disappears into school. When I pick him up that afternoon, he doesn't mention it again. That evening, when Adam got home from work, Ethan blurts out, "Daddy! Did you know mommy killed her dog!?".