Let's start with this morning (yes it's barely 8am but I've already been exposed to my daily dose of surrealism).
There are several ways which I would chose to spend 5am (the front runner, by a mile, being sleeping) but one way which is not on my 'yes please!' list is sitting cross legged on my eldest son's bedroom carpet having a philosophical discussion about death.
You see yesterday, my son found out that Satchmo had died.
No my son is not particularly upset about the demise of the original Satchmo - the world famous American Jazz Trumpeter who died in 1971. That would be odd.... This Satchmo was a large Silver Agouti Rex Boar (this means he was a big fat male guinea pig to those of you not acquainted with the Cavy Fancy).
Our Satchmo (god rest his soul):
The original Satchmo (also god rest his soul, although he never sat on my lap and certainly isn't buried in my garden):
You would have a job to confuse the two.
Don't ask why he was called Satchmo. It's complicated and you should be aware of my history in naming pets following my post entitled 'Happy Easter' dealing with the curious incident of the cockerel named Jesus and his gay disciples.
Anyway, our Satchmo actually died some time ago but my son hadn't noticed as the guinea pigs are my domain and kept in the back garden. What with all the bad weather he hadn't been out there for any length of time. And then the sun came out....
Whilst examining the hutches he noticed Satch was missing and thus the questions started. He seemed quite happy with my OH's explanation of 'he got very old and died, he's not here anymore' and that was that.
Until 5am this morning.
Son: 'Mummeeee, Mummeeee, Mummeeee'.
Me: 'Quiet! It's not time to get up'.
Son: 'Mummeee PLEASE'.
Me: 'Grrrr' followed by 'WHAT!?'.
Son: 'Mummy, where's Satchmo gone?'.
Me: (to myself: argh feck) 'Well he's died darling!'.
Son: 'But why?'.
Me: 'Well he got very old. He slowed down and got slower and slower and then stopped. That's what happens when things get very old and worn out'.
Son: 'But why did he get old?'
Me: 'Well everything gets old after a lot of time' (argh dangerous ground now... where is this leading? I need to change tack) 'Shall we get a new guinea pig then? One that looks the same? To replace him? (WHAT kind of message is that to give a child? 'It doesn't matter if something dies, you can easily replace it with a new improved younger version?!').
Son: 'But where is he?'.
Me: (OK the right answer here is not: under 2 foot of soil in the back garden being eaten by worms but at the same time I swore I was never going to go down the 'Heaven as a Religious Utopia route') 'Erm, his body is gone but his spirit has gone on to better place' (really really crap answer considering my son has as much idea about the concept of 'spirit' as he does about Calculus).
Son: 'BUT WHERE IS HE?'.
Me: (argh, sod it, it's 5am, here comes the cop out...) 'Heaven'.
Son: 'What IS heaven?'.
Me: 'A special place dead things go to'.
Son: 'But where is it?'.
Me: (argh, 5am and 4 year olds do not combine for an informed debate on metaphysics - here comes cop out two) 'In the stars darling, IN THE STARS!'.
Son: 'IN THE STARS! WHAT!? So can I see him then? In the stars?'.
Me: (my head is now filled with a strangely disturbing image of a serene dead guinea pig orbiting the moon) 'Well no, we can't see him, he's beyond the stars'.
Son: 'But mummy, there is NOTHING after the stars. The stars go on forever!'.
Me: (sigh) 'Well yes space goes on for ever, it's called infinity, but somewhere is a place for dead things' (bloody marvellous explanation there methinks).
Son: 'BUT WHERE!?'.
Me: 'Look he's in the stars. You can't see him because he's very far away and quite small when compared with very big things like the sun. He's with Rhy's cat!'.
Son: 'Are they together?'.
Me: 'Yes, they are never lonely in heaven, they have lots of friends' (good answer, surely I'm only seconds away from my 'Return to Bed'?).
Son: 'But Satchmo didn't like cats. They scared him'.
Me: (Argggh!!!) 'Well yes but it's different in heaven. Everybody is friends, nobody gets scared'
Son: 'But mummy....'.
Me: 'Look just play with your cars for a bit. I have to go back to bed or I might get a bit worn out and fall apart...' (WHY did I say that? Will he put 2 and 2 together and add on 'and die - just like Satchmo' to the end of my statement?).
Anyway I went back to bed and spent the next 40 minutes tossing and turning and mulling over the biggest questions in the Universe. And then I got up and made a cup of tea. With Elton John's Rocket Man going round and round my head - accompanied by the image of a furry rodent in a space suit.
Altogether now: 'Mar's ain't the kind of place to raise the Pigs, in fact it's cold as hell...'.
I have a feeling this week will be interesting.