I am feeling like a change of pace is needed, so yesterday I decide to pick M up from school in lieu of the baby. On the days that I get to pick her up, the conversation typically involves her ratting out all the bad things that the other kids did at school that day. However, yesterday’s commute-versation hit me with the surprise of Tyson’s roundhouse to Alan in the Hangover.
"I can feel it comin' in the air tonight..."
We are not two minutes out of the school parking lot when M says to me, ” Daddy? Did you know that Michael Jackson died and then came back to life?”
“Uhh…where did you hear that?”, I mumble as I am trying to wrap my head around what my toddler has blurted out.
“My teacher”, she says with confidence.
Still confused I rebut, “Well, Michael Jackson did die…but he did not come back to life…Do you even know who Michael Jackson is?” This is the moment that, when I look back, I should have changed the subject. Instead, I grab my shovel and started digging myself into a nice little hole that will take the rest of the night from which to climb.
The conversation quickly high-centers on whether or not the king of pop has risen from the dead when, finally, I am able to convince her that Jesus is the only person that has died and risen. Reluctantly, she accepts this and quickly moves back to Michael Jackson. The next round of questioning involves how he died, where he died, and why he died. I am completely dumbfounded and yet I continue to have this conversation.
I proceed to tell her that Michael died from drugs. “What are drugs? Do they crawl on the ground?”, M questions with a furrowed brow of concentration. This leads us into an in-depth conversation of me trying to explain what drugs are to my toddler. Where do I even start? “Drugs” is such a broad term. I start by explaining that there are two kinds of drugs. The good kind, and the bad kind. The good kind of drugs are the medicines that we take. “What are the bad drugs?”, she asks. I then mention heroin as an example only to have that followed up by a barrage of questions ranging from what is heroin, where does it come from and where did Micheal get it. “No, no, no…Michael Jackson did not take heroin. He died from the good kind of drugs”, I stammer as I attempt to steer this rapidly downward-spiraling conversation. I had to follow that statement up by explaining that Michael just took too many different medicines and it killed him. By this point I am floundering in this conversation. The realization that I should have ended this before it ever really began has come and gone and I find myself gnawing at the last bit of leather from the boot that I am currently eating.
Once we had determined that Michael had died from “too many medicines”, as M would put it, and that he had died in his bed…”in the sheets”, to be exact, the next round of questioning begins with, ” Who else died?” Since we were on musicians, I rattle off Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. I explain that Elvis allegedly died on the toilet, which gives M a huge laugh. Thankfully, we are nearing home at this point. I have never been so happy to see our driveway. I liken it to how Columbus must have felt when he landed at the New World. I jump from the car and prayerfully kiss the ground. I am free of this dreadful conversation!…or so I think.
We get into the house and M wastes no time in telling Mommy about Michael Jackson and Elvis. The look that Mom gives me would lead you to believe that I had just given M her very own heroin rig and taught her how to use it. I quickly defend myself by telling Mom that M picked all (well most) of what she is rambling about at school, and most certainly not from her innocent Daddy. Leave it to Mommy to lay down the law and forbid death talk, which seems to work until I am tucking M into bed.
As I pull the sheet up around her and tuck her in, she holds up the edge of her Disney princess sheets and says, “Did Michael Jackson die in these kind of sheets?” Here we go again…