This interview was originally published on True STORIES. in April 2012.
A friend suggested I interview my son, Henry, for this blog. Fantastic idea, I thought, and imagined versions of all the delightful things my son has ever said—interesting word choices and insights that only an un-jaded, fresh mind could have, an aptitude for what’s important and what’s right that can humble an adult in seconds–all wrapped together in one nice, ten-minute interview.
Here’s how it actually went down:
Mama: What’s your favorite thing to do, Henry? [I start easy, sitting with him on the couch, computer on my lap, typing his answers verbatim. I’ll save the hard-hitting questions for later.]
Henry: Play with all my friends and play with my stuffed animals, my Yo Gabba Gabba guys, making clay with everyone, my animals, playing with everyone, Angry Birds, and I like playing with you and Clara and Papa and Caddy. That’s all. [He turns to me and in some weird, four-year-old voice says, “That’s kooky,” and makes a funny face.]
Mama: What do you think is the prettiest thing in the world?
Henry: Flowers. Green and purple. Every color. Not except for peach. [Okay, not bad. He once described something as “tiny as a turtle tail” with the flourish of a poet, but this will do. We’re warming up.]
Mama: What is your favorite animal? [Looking back, this change in direction was a mistake.]
Henry: Um, dinos, Angry Birds, a cheetah, rhinos, shark, crocodiles, T-rex, velociraptor…
Mama: What is your favorite show—pick just one? [I blurt out, to get him to stop naming animals.]
Henry: Peppa Pig. And Wow Wow Wubbzy.
Mama: What would you like to be when you’re older?
Henry: Building, and taking care of animals—and be a baby. [Chuckles, thrilled with his sense of humor.]
I mean I wanna be a glasses. [Laughs harder, pointing at my eyeglasses.]
Mama: What is your favorite season?
Henry: Spring, summer, and fall. And winter.
Mama: Why are they your favorites? [I think maybe he’ll throw out one of his stunning similes.]
Henry: Cuz I like them.
Mama: Why do you like them?
Henry: Cuz they’re my favorites. [That base covered, I start to ask another question but Henry closes my computer.]
Mama, that’s all I wanna do now. Let’s just tell jokes. Knock, knock.
Mama: Who’s there?
Henry: Have you ever seen a grocery store of a whole pickle, and it just has pickles to buy?
[Other answers to the “Who’s there?” question:
“Your teeth look green to me.”
“You ate a tarantula.”
“Snot otter!” This is the actual name of a real animal.
I’m catching on to his sense of humor, so I try to reel him back into this interview.]
Mama: What’s your favorite potty word?
Henry: Puke. [Hysterical.]
But then, later that afternoon as we’re pulling out of the driveway headed to a birthday party, Henry spots the Kony 2012 poster newly hung on our front door.
“What’s that?” he asks, pointing out the car window.
And this starts one of those conversations that snowballs into tiptoed topics like war, guns, and death. I try to explain that Joseph Kony is a really mean person who fights and starts wars. (I, of course, make no mention of the kidnapping, rape, and boy soldiers.)
“He’s in our world?” Henry asks.
“Yes, in our world but very far away. He won’t come here. He’s practically in another world.”
“Why is he so mean?”
“I don’t know. There are probably a lot of reasons. Some people are just mean.”
“Mama, sometimes I do bad things, but not like that.”
“No, Henry, not like that.”
“Mama, he has a funny name but he IS bad.”
“Yes, he’s very bad, even though he has a funny name.”
In the rearview mirror, I can see that Henry is thinking. His eyebrows are furrowed as he stares out the window.
“Mama, he must not know about Santa. Santa would NOT give him presents for what he is doing.”
“No, he wouldn’t.”
Henry exhales. “So. His world doesn’t have Santa. Maybe we should ask Santa to go there.”
I think he’s on to something.
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