Nat doesn't want me to kill house flies. This is progress, I figure.
"I like them," she told me. "They're furry."
"How about I open a window and then they can fly out?"
She shook her head vigorously. "They're house flies. They're not outside flies."
"Oh." I pursed my lips.
"What if an outside fly flies in?"
"Kill it," she said grimly.
I nodded. That's my daughter. "And ants? How about ants?"
"There's too many of them," she said after a moment's pause. "They must die."
I guess this is progress. Not too long ago, we couldn't have had this kind of conversation without a shock collar around me to keep me from barking out loud. Never mind idly discussing killing bugs.
Here's what it used to be like. I say one thing. She says something back. They're not necessarily related. So I try to redirect back to the topic. She says something else. Again, not necessarily related. But we're having fun.
If, not too long ago, I asked her, "What if an outside fly flies in?" she would jump up and down and shout "Yes!"
"I don't know!" But she's jumping up and down and she's talking about house flies and it's all a great time. Then, she'd try and pet the housefly, and it would fly away. Which is also fun, but it isn't always fun, like when she tried to pet a hornet.
"I don't like that one," she said. "It's stingy."
More progress is that she can talk about killing things with a little more rational thought. Last year, death was too abstract a concept, indistinguishable from sleep. Luckily she never had to confront that grim fallacy, except once, and she didn't confront it even then.
Last year, someone closed the door on Gordon the Hamster. It may have been her, or it may have been her four year old brother. We never found out because they were both too amused by how fast Gordon could fall asleep to remember who actually closed the door on him.
"Wake up, Gordon!" shouted Natalie. "Wake up!"
Gordon didn't wake up. He let out the slightest whimper, we watched him take a few shallow breaths, then he become still.
I wrapped Gordon in cloth and took him to the back yard, with my kids behind me. They watched me dig a small grave, lay the hamster in, then cover it with dirt. Nat jumped up and down and flapped her hands and said, "GoodBYE Gordon! See you LATER!"
Time has done its magic, and Nat is a year older, and a little less fog lies over her mind, so that she knows that death is an end point to life.
Although she doesn't have a complete grasp of it yet.
Every so often, just before bed, Nat will ask,"When's Gordon coming out of the ground?"
"At the next zombie apocalypse," I tell her.
Lately, since she's come to understand what a zombie is (due to Ben and his iPad zombie games), she smiles knowingly, claws her hands in the air and hisses, "Brainnnnns."
Every little step, right?