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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Squirrels, and also the apocalypse.

I'm walking Henry and his friend Luca to Luca's house. They've been playdating over at our place for the past two hours, but I managed to bore them until they decided that Luca's was more fun. "If you say so," I sighed, and cackled silently to myself.

On the way to Luca's we're talking about the dead squirrel. The dead squirrel has been a topic of conversation for the past week or so. It's lying at the bottom of a sewer grate next to Luca's house, and Henry and his friends can't get enough of it. There can never been too much dead squirrel, apparently, in the mind of the almost-six-year-old. I have not seen the dead squirrel yet, and Henry is talking it up.

"Mom, you finally get to see the dead squirrel," Henry tells me. It's like Christmas in September!

"Henry, I don’t want to see the dead squirrel," I say. Luca stares at me in amazement. Not want to see a dead squirrel? What kind of machine am I?

"It's been dead for a while," Henry says. "It's not like a squirrel anymore, but like the outline of a squirrel."

"Wow, that's really not making me want to see it."

"No, it's cool. It's all sort of curled up."

"It doesn't look dead," Luca observes, and Henry agrees. "It looks like it's pretending to be dead."

"I'm just not into seeing dead things, is all."

"It just has this cut on it, and these swipes of white across it." The way Henry says "swipes" while sweeping his hand across his body is both sort of adorable and also really gruesome. I hope he's talking about the squirrel's fur, and not some kind of putrefaction.

"Mom, really, it's no problem. Just look at it."

We are now on top of the sewer grate. The kids peer in. I can't see anything. The way the light is angled so that I can pretend to look, but in fact I can see nothing.

"Was that cool?" Henry asks me, once we're done.

"I don't know, Henry, I like squirrels," I say, which isn't exactly true, "I don't want to see one that's dead."

"Mom, you don't have to worry about that squirrel." He pauses. "You should worry about all the other squirrels."

Luca asks, "Why does your mom have to worry about the squirrels?" Now Luca's looking a tad concerned.

Henry looks at his friend. "Luca. The world is going to end. Did you know that?" Uh-oh. Poor Luca, I think.

Luca is now gaping at Henry.

"The world had a beginning, so it has to have an end. Everything with a beginning has to end."

He got this from his father, by the way. Or possibly me. At any rate he didn't come up with it on his own. Just so you know.

"Everything has a beginning and an end," Henry says, "Unless it's infinity."

"What's infinity?" Luca asks. Henry tells him, in great (and somewhat incoherent) detail. Luca looks around him, as if the world doesn't make any sense anymore. You think you're just going to enjoy a little dead squirrel, and the next thing you know your entire worldview is being shattered. The poor kid had no idea what he was getting himself into, asking for a playdate with my son.

Reader Comments (39)

Oh, believe me, he knows all about the Big Bang Theory. HE KNOWS.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Of course squirrels herald the apocalypse.

It helps to imagine it staged for opera: long-clawed gesticulations, hysterical chittering, and an angsty angular Finnish score.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJMartin
Oh. My. God. That is hilarious. It sounds so much like my son, always giving these insane facts that make other kid's heads spin right of. lol.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarcasta-Mom
When I was growing up, my neighbor and I had a roadkill cemetery. We would take shovels are actually scoop up any flatted...well...anythings and bury them in the pine grove behind my house. The eulogies often went something like this "here lies sam, a raccoon that met a truck and turned into spam." Yea, we were that deep.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate
That's one way to keep that boy's mother from wanting her son to play at your house.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermerlotmom
That's great. Your kid is GREAT.
September 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJachiCue
My fiance loves squirrels - alive or dead. We went to the zoo last week, and he took more pictures of a squirrel on a rock than of any caged animal there.
September 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I also enjoyed the reference to putrefaction.

My kids are awfully sentimental. That said, the dead bird heads lying around our house (thanks for that, cat)have been holding their attention.
September 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha
Dude! What's more than infinity? Infinity to the infinity power!
September 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBOSSY
That Henry is a hoot! Kids his age are terribly fascinated by dead things. I was watching some kids over a long weekend and we encountered 2 dead mice (in the same spot, someone's 'gifts', I suppose) as well as a flown to the beyond hummingbird. (That one made me so sad, they should never die). One of the mice was headless, and that was just too fabulous. The little girl, Summer, really liked that she got to see its bones. On the third day, when there was no mouse, the disappointment was huge. Luckily (for her burgeoning interest in small things dead) we found the hummingbird at my parents. She claimed to see more bones on that one too. I didn't want to look, because just knowing ants were defiling it's beautiful body. I'm going to suggest she look into any of several careers: human/invertebrate paleontologist, orthopedic surgeon, forensic anthropologist specializing in osteology.
September 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
I hate to say this, but he will never lose his fascination with dead things. And he will at some point discover the joy in poking at dead animals with a stick. My husband, in his mid-20s at the time, was trout-fishing with a friend when his rod broke. He discovered some kind of deceased furry creature on the river bank while bored and waiting for his friend to finish fishing. He used his broken rod to poke at this poor creature until his friend came looking for him. This friend, a mature 30-something, who had known that my husband's fishing adventure had been cut short due to the broken equipment and selfishly continued fishing, saw what my husband was doing and only then offered to lend hubby his own fully-functional fishing rod - probably handed down from his great-grandfather - so that this so-called friend could take over the important task of poking the deceased with the broken rod.

These two reasonably well-educated, self-sufficient, employed adult males spent the rest of the day amusing themselves by poking this stinky, swollen, floppy, bug-covered carcass with a broken fishing pole. I kid you not. They still speak of it fondly as one of the greatest fishing trips of their lives. Thank goodness hubby has only produced X chromosomes and we have 2 lovely daughters. Although the 3-year-old is somewhat obsessed with death, and the other is only 6 months old, princess power does reign supreme so far.
September 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkelli
"Everything has a beginning and an end," Henry says, "Unless it's infinity."

Pure awesome.
September 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAimee Greeblemonkey
And now poor Luca is in the throes of an existential crisis.
September 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZip n Tizzy
best blog post ever!

October 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

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