Yesterday, as I was picking Bax up from school, we crossed paths with one of his classmate's dads in the lobby.
"Are you Nora's Daddy?" he asked.
"Why yes I am." the dad smiled.
Friendly words were exchanged and then we parted ways as Bax and I exited the building and got in the car. After we had left the parking lot and started driving down the street, a pensive Baxter inquired,
"Why does Nora have the same daddy?"
"Same as who?" I asked (or "As whom?" I suppose would be the proper phrasing - but that level of grammatical attention wasn't warranted at the time)
"No, mama. Why does Nora have the same daddy?"
"Bax, I don't get what you're asking. Does she have the same daddy as somebody else?"
"NO mama." Clearly I'm frustrating him at this point, "Why does Nora still have the same old Daddy?"
click click click. Ah-ha.
"You mean, why does Nora still have the same Daddy she used to have when she was a baby?" I asked, recalling now that Bax and Nora have been in daycare together since they were in the baby room there at 6 months old.
"Yeah." he stopped gazing out the window and looked at me in the rearview mirror.
"Well," I'm trying to figure out how to spell this out without making him feel like a freak, "Most people continue to have the same daddies or mommies as they get older. For most people, your mommy or daddy stays same from the time you're a baby and as you grow into a big boy or girl."
"But not everyone has that." He pointed out.
Translation: "I don't have the same daddy, mama-dumb-dumb."
"That's true. Not everyone does. But, Baxter, you still have your daddy. He's just not here on earth."
"Yeah. But my PJ Dad is here. And he's new."
The whole "PJ as dad" thing has been taking off in recent weeks - particularly as PJ occasionally drops off or picks up Bax from school and all the kids call "Hey! Baxter's Dad! hey! Look what I made!" (pointing to a drawing or a lego-tower) So, it seems that Bax has begun to realize that PJ's in it for the long haul - is here on a daily basis, and is a stable father figure in his world. All amazing, heart-warming, and wonderful realizations.
But it still always throws me when he puts pieces together like this in such an unexpected way.
"Yes, you have both a PJ dad here on earth and a Daddy in Heaven on the moon."
...and then I panicked. What if Bax doesn't remember Mike? What if I'm not doing enough to keep his memory alive?
"Baxter, you remember your daddy, right?"
"What do you remember about him?" I must be a f*cking masochist. Baxter is 3 and a half. Mike died when he was 18 months old. His dad has been gone for more of his life than he was alive during his life. Oy. There's a thought for ya.
Then Baxter reports the first thing that comes to mind when asked, "what do you remember about him?"
"He had something in his brain. He had to leave. That's what I remember," he said with a matter-of-fact hand gesture and head shake.
"That's all? You remember other stuff! Stuff he enjoyed. Stuff he was good at... come on..."
"Oh yeah! He was good at juggling!" Bax said with a proud smile.
"And he was good at tap dancing!" He continued.
"And he was silly." He stated.
Amen to that.
"What color was his hair?" I asked.
"Orange - like mine!" he said excitedly.
This conversation had gone from bad to ok in a split second. And then it was over.
"Is my PJ going to be home when we get home?"
I smiled and reached back for Bax's hand to rub his little fingers. "Probably not, but he'll be home in a few minutes, and we'll have dinner and play with your Iron Men toys."
...then Bax got that devilish twinkle in his eye, "Yeah. And then, I'll take off in that rocket ship with PJ and we'll go see the planets and Sticky Spidey will come with us and we'll web Doctor Octopus and then Crimson Dynamo will have a party and we'll see Titanium Man there and Venom and we'll shoot beams up in the air..."
... all concepts and gifts recently acquired from one PJ Gallagher.