I’m driving. Atticus has a full tummy, and is gurgling at the view zipping behind him in reverse. Arddun is strapped in the seat directly behind mine, her awareness of her whereabouts, the general geography of Canberra, the routes we take, the slightest departure from routine ever minutely recorded and questioned.
Ever growing, ever impressive, ever exhausting.
It’s 60kmh down Northbourne Avenue, plenty of time to discuss where we’re going.
“Where are we going now, Mummy?”
“We are going to the Singapore High Commission.”
She chews on that for a few seconds. It’s dinner time, and we are not at home. She notes the quick sinking of the sun, grows a little excited that we are deviating from the norm.
“We are going to see Grandma Singapore?” She turns to a toy companion immediately to give her the news. “We are going to see my Grandma!”
“Er… no, darlin’. We are going to the Singapore High Commission. It’s a different place.”
“Where is Grandma Singapore?”
“Are we going to her house?”
I pause. Do I tackle the bit about venues, or do I tackle the bit about the afterlife. Decisions.
“Because she doesn’t live in the Singapore High Commission. We are going there for dinner. There’s going to be lots of yummy food! Are we going to try new things tonight?”
“And then,” she continues, “We are going to Grandma Singapore’s house.”
So we are back to that.
“Will she have beds ready for us?”
“Does she have a house?”
“Probably. A very big one, I think.” (Will you please turn your hymnals with me to “I got a mansion just over the hilltop”.)
“She’ll have beds for us,” Arddun decides confidently.
“We are not going to her house.”
“Because it’s in heaven.”
“Where is heaven?”
“It’s outside this world.”
“OOOOOHHHHH!” she cries, as if that finally makes complete sense. And then,
“Are we in the world, Mummy?”
“Then where is Grandma’s house?”
“Out of this world.”
“Does she have a dog?”
I give a short bark of laughter. And then think about it in earnest. Dogs don’t have souls, but maybe that isn’t the way to tackle that question for now.
“Probably not,” I reply slowly. “Grandma doesn’t like dogs.”
“Oooohhh…” I imagine her nodding wisely. And then, confidentially,
“Heaven doesn’t have elephants.”
“No. It has squirrels.”
“Yes,” my sagacious four-year-old replies. “And cats. And some dogs. But not elephants.”