“What’s heaven like?” CJ asked.
My wife responded without hesitation. “Heaven is like one big party. There’s coffee. You hang out with all your old friends.”
My kids, now 8 and 5, were hanging on her very word.
“It has a pool and you can go on vacation whenever you want. You can fly everywhere. It’s just a beautiful place.”
It made me want to go.
“Do they have baseball?” I asked. “More importantly, are the Mets any good in heaven?”
My wife just laughed, which I took to mean, no, God’s not a miracle worker.
After a few more minutes of talking about heaven, my kids’ initial sadness and fear turned to happy thoughts.
I was in awe. My wife had deftly handled a difficult topic and far better than I could have ever done.
Unfortunately, this emphasized how poorly I answer the kids’ questions. For example, if CJ posed that question to me, I would have asked, “Is this a multiple choice question?”
After giving some ridiculous answer, I would have done what I do best, “Uh, where’s your mother?” Or, “Lexy, come here, CJ has a question.”
But this doesn’t mean I can’t answer questions or I that don’t want to. The problem is nobody asks me questions on topics I know. Diane knows heaven and deeper issues. I know sports, technology, and bodily noises and smells—and not necessarily in that order.
Instead, the other day CJ asked me, “Are you going to heaven, Daddy?”
“Of course, I’m going to heaven.”
“But you joke around a lot. I don’t think God likes that.”
“You’re right. Maybe I’m not getting in.”
He looked at me nervously.
“Just kidding.” Boy he had me pegged.
“I’ll be there someday, a long time from now. God likes jokes, too, sometimes—as long as they’re not mean.”
Thankfully, he accepted that but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Later that day, I told CJ I was impressed with him over how he helped his grandfather.
“What does impressed mean, Dad?”
For the life of me, I had no response. It was if I had suddenly channeled Ralph Kramden on a game show. Homina, Homina. Ed Norton?
CJ interrupted the silence. “Dad, does that mean you’re proud of me?”
I was doubly impressed. Why couldn’t I think of that? Lord knows Diane would have had a great answer as well as an answer as to why I had no answer.
“You’re old!” she’d say, which would give me a complex for the next couple of hours.
During that period of self-doubt, Lexy would then ask me the most difficult parenting question of all. “How are babies made?”
Rather than confusing the poor girl for the next several years of life, I’d quickly direct her to someone who could help. “Let’s go talk to your Mother.”
As my wife would agree, finally, I had given the right answer.
Copyright © 2010, Brad Manzo