Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Imagining Loss

Two stories about a 5 year old imaging the loss of her senses or body parts.

This is how I found Greta--sitting at the piano with Ode to Joy in front of her and her fingers in her ears.

When she caught sight of me she said, "Will you cover my ears while I play?"

"Don't you like how it sounds?" I asked--before I covered the ears.

I thought she did.  She'd been singing it constantly with these words from her book:

Beethoven a great composer wrote this joyful melody.  
Beethoven a great composer wrote this theme for you and me.

"I do like it. I just want to know what it was like for Beethoven when he played it."

He was deaf, you see, when he composed Ode to Joy.   I covered her ears and she played.

"How was it?"
Shrug.  "I could hear through."

Ok, so the next installment in Imagining Loss is one of those times where, in an effort to protect my children, I overdid it a little.

We were kayaking, or rather, we were done kayaking and the boats were strapped to the top of the car.  The straps, so they don't flap around, hang in through the windows.  A friend's son was wrapping the straps around his arm.

I said not to touch the straps--it would be dangerous if something outside snagged the strap.  And then, because the kids seemed insufficiently impressed, I told the story of the little girl whose hand got ripped off.   She was playing with a jump rope in the car and letting it fly out the window.  The jump rope got caught in the axle of the car.  The hand flew out the window.  Right now you are thinking I should have spared you this gruesome tale.  But since I failed to spare my 5 year old, what are the chances I'd spare you?

Later Greta pleaded with me to tell her a nice story because the hand was "stuck up" in her head.  I reassured her that a motorist had found the little girl's hand and surgeons reattached it.  And then I told her a nice story about butterflies.

Two days later as we're driving I see in the rearview mirror that she is hunched over her arm with a pen.  She catches my eye in the mirror.

"I'm writing my name on my arm so if I lose it someone will return it to me."


AM said...


Amy said...

I am laughing so hard right now I may pee.

ashley said...

Ha ha...we have to give our kids something to explain while they lie on a psychiatrist couch, don't we? My mom had a couple of true gruesome stories she told to teach about safety...and I have told them to my kids, too.

Anonymous said...

Someday, maybe you can tell her the rest of the story... how the woman who found the hand became her friend.


Anonymous said...

Here's the link:



maria said...

God, I miss you!

AM said...

Well, this confirms there was no hospital mix up - she's definitely your daughter!

Susan said...

Amy, I busted up when she said it and she was quite indignant--she did not see the humor at all.

Ashley, those stories do get stuck up in your head, don't they? And if they are that memorable they just might work. Right? Right?

Cathy, you know, I thought about telling her about that, but then I thought maybe it is better if it is a sort of cautionary fairy tale for her and not a story about a real girl who has really suffered and who has not completely recovered and who really does not even live very far away.

Maria, miss you, too! We're off to NJ/DC Friday. See you in August?

AM, G was born at home, so no chance of that! But hey, I'd forgotten I used to write on my arms (so I wouldn't forget things). I had to give a friend a cooler the other day (it was in the trunk of the car), so I wrote COOLER on an orange sticker and stuck it to the middle of my shirt. Then I realized that cooler I definitely was not. At least I hadn't written it on my arm.

td said...

That Greta does it to me *every* time!!! She is just SO incredibly cute & smart & charming! And hilarious too!
(writing on her arm in the car just sent me laughing so hard!)
thanks for documenting her charming observations as always!

Carolyn said...

Greta is so practical, I love it. She is a girl after my own heart.

Lori said...

this is the best thing i've read in at least a year.