Steve Irwin is dead.
I am guessing most of you know this already, and can probably recall exactly where you were and what you were doing when you got the sad news about The Crocodile Hunter.
Jesse was five at the time. And maybe because we didn't want to ruin what looked to be a perfectly good day, or maybe because we just knew it would lead to incessant questions about life, death, and stingrays: WE CONCEALED THE CROCODILE HUNTER'S DEATH FROM HIM.
It has been a Year Long Version of Weekend at Bernie's. ( Except we didn't schlep a corpse around,and there were no umbrella drinks.) And it hasn't been particularly easy; there has been many a moment when I questioned my decision--but a few glasses of pinot usually removed all doubt.
For example, a few months ago, we were at the aquarium in Charleston with the cousins. Joseph--one of the "older" cousins--turned to Jesse, (who was admiring the Crocodile Hunter Action Figure in the gift shop), and said matter-of-factly: "HE'S DEAD ." Which was a bit of a problem, because after all we were having a swell day at the aquarium so why ruin it--especially when a peaceful cocktail hour was almost in reach. And so I sunk to a new all time low; debating wether or not Steve Irwin was dead with a nine year old who knew the truth, in front of my five year old who I did not want to hear it. Sorry, Joseph. Think of me as your Wacko Aunt. BTW: that thing I said about your mom smoking crack was wayyyyy out of line. My bad.
But today, at our house: THE CROCODILE HUNTER HAS DIED. (again)
It happened because several children in Jesse's class told him that Greg Wiggle is dead. Now this is JUST NOT TRUE and my gosh, if someone is going to lie to my child then it better be me.
Greg Wiggle is NOT DEAD. He has retired his yellow jersey--given it over to the understudy SAM as a matter of fact (I know this because I am a Wiggelette) because he suffers from an odd disease that causes him to become nauseous when he wiggles, and that is THE TRUTH.
(And let me just say-there is a HUGE Wiggle/Crocodial Hunter connection which comes into play--Steve having starred alongside the Fab Four in WIGGLEY SAFARI--in which he sang, danced and interjected "aw Crikey" into a bunch of musical numbers. I think if you play the video backwards, it says Dorothy the Dinosaur choked to death on a ham sandwich, but that could be a rumor.)
So anyway: I told Jesse today that Greg Wiggle was NOT in fact dead, but felt compelled to cop to some passing of someone--so I told him the truth about Steve Irwin--thinking enough time had passed, Discovery Channel has been usurped by Nick Jr., and his feelings for the Australian Icon safely transferred to Ned, of Ned's Declassified--who BTW- BETTER NOT FREEKING DIE ANYTIME SOON.
Jesse has been sad off and on throughout this beautiful day. He wants to know if the stingray "is sorry." He wants to know how Steve's children feel. Mostly: he wants to know if Kip and I will ever leave him.
But in between these moments, he plays and sings, and annoys his sister, and paints pictures, and experiments with feeding the cat legos. So really; maybe it isn't Jesse who has the problem with change and loss and the whole circle of life thing.
One of these days I will need to break the news to him that all those times he was able to call Spiderman on his direct phone line, his dad was in the bathroom on his cell. I will have to tell him that the magic ring I let him wear to school when he is worried about something is really something that was picked up at a tag sale and has no powers. We will have to discuss Santa, the Easter Bunny, and our own personal "Valentine's Pixie."
In the meantime, drive safely Ned of Ned's Declassified. I am counting on you to be with us for awhile.