“Mommy, you’re a hippo.”
“I’m a what?! Why?!”
“You’re a mommy hippo. Because I want to be a baby hippo.”
“Oh.”
“I’m a baby hippo, but I’m also Denzel.”
“So like a baby hippo whose name is Denzel?”
“No, sometimes I’m a baby hippo, other times I’m Denzel.”
“OK.”
“Mommy, you’re also a baby strawberry.”
“WHY AM I A BABY STRAWBERRY?”
“Because it sounds nice. Daddy is a watermelon.”
“OK.”

***

“Are Marines allowed to ride in elevators by themselves?”
“Yes.”
“Do they have guns?”
“Yes.”
“And unicorns?”
“What?”
“They wear unicorns?”
“Uniforms!”
“Mommy, you’re laughing too hard. You’ll pee yourself if you don’t stop.”
“Says the kid who accuses Marines of wearing unicorns.”
“Do Marines have to eat dinner?”
“Yes.”
“What if they don’t like their dinner?”
“I’m pretty sure they just buck up and eat it anyway?”
“So they don’t cry?”
“Not over stupid stuff like dinner.”
“What do Marines cry about?”
“Serious stuff. Probably.”
“Like when people die?”
“Like when people die.”
“Does everyone die?”
“Eventually, yes.”
“Do Marines like cake?”
“Of course they do.” 

***

“Mommy, you said ‘fucking’ on the phone!”
“I know, I’m sorry. It was a bad word I said.”
“Why?”
“I was upset. Adults say these things when they’re upset. It’s an adult word. But it’s not nice.”
“It’s an adult world?”
“It’s an adult word.”
“… Is the Earth the world?”
“It’s part of the world. It’s one planet. The actual world is very big.”
“The world is a planet?”
“The world is many planets. And stars. And galaxies.”
“Galaxies?”
“Yes. They’re big , big, huge collections of stars.”
“Galaxies. Samsung Galaxies?”
“No, those are different.”
“They’re phones?”
“They’re phones.”
“Mommy, you said ‘fucking’ on the phone!”
“We’ve been over this. I’m sorry. Can you stop saying the bad word, please?”
“I can’t say the bad word?”
“You can’t say the bad word. You know it.”
“Because I’m a child?! Because you’re better than me?!”
“No, because you’re better than me.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Well, nobody said that being good is easy, Lev.”
“But is it easy-peasy?”
“Not really, Lev.”

***

“Why do I wear Batman socks?”
“Because they’re cool.”
“Do Marines wear Batman socks?”
“I think some do. Sometimes. Maybe not on active duty?”
“Marines are sometimes cool?”
“I think that a lot of them would say they’re always cool.”
“Because they have haircuts?”
“Not just because of that, but yeah.”
“I don’t like haircuts.”
“Well, in your present position, you can afford not to.”
“Mommy, are you cool?”
“I mean… Probably not.”
“Why?”
“I think cool people are reserved and knowing. I’m not either of these things.”
“What’s reserved and knowing?”
“Let’s look up somebody cool on the internet. Um, who the hell is even cool anymore… Well, Solange for example. Solange is cool. I don’t know if she’s reserved and knowing, however. This is a tough conversation. Can we talk about something else, please?”
“Ummm…… When a baby’s in the tummy, how does it come out?”
“For God’s sake.”
“It comes out for God’s sake?”
“It… Well, it’s a long story, Lev. It involves a lot of anatomy. We’ll buy a book about it, OK? I clearly need to order one.”
“What’s anatomy?”
“It’s the study of how the body is made.”
“Do Marines like anatomy?”
“In certain situations.”
“Can I watch Peppa Pig now?”
“Yes, please. Please watch Peppa Pig now.”

***

“Mommy, are you beautiful?”
“I don’t know, Lev. Maybe when I’ve gotten enough sleep?”
“Mommy, you are very beautiful.”
“Thanks, kid. That’s why I had you – for the validation.”
“Mommy, you’re beautiful like a door.”
“Like a what.”
“You’re beautiful like a door. You’re rectangular. And your head is round. You have a beautiful pom-pom on your head.”
“It’s called a bun.”
“A fun?”
“A bun.”
“A fun bun?”
“Lev, are you, perchance, trying and failing to make a joke?”
“Don’t worry, mommy. I’m an expert at doing things.”

***

“Mommy, the police will take me!”
“No, they won’t.”
“They’re coming! The girl on the playground called them!”
“The girl on the playground is an idiot and a bully and she doesn’t even own a phone.”
“They’ll take me!”
“I won’t let them.”
“They’ll take me, because they’re bad!”
“Not all of them are bad. But some of them are.”
“But why?”
“Because they’re human. And because the government… OK, you know what, you’re too young for this conversation. Why don’t we go buy you fries.”
“They’ll take me! They’ll take my fries!”
“I will protect you and the fries.”
“Because you’re a girl?”
“Exactly. Because I’m a girl. Girls have to be tough to protect people and things…”
“…And fries.”
“Yes – and fries. Extremely tough. And strong. And ferocious. Like animals.”
“Like a goose?”
“Sure, Lev. Like a goose.”
“You’re a silly goose, mommy.”
“I walked right into that one, didn’t I.”

***

“Was that a lady Marine?”
“Yes it was.”
“Was she beautiful?”
“Very beautiful.”
“She had a beautiful smile.”
“Careful, Lev. You might be too young for her.”
“Mommy, what do you mean, too young for her?”
“You don’t even have a bank account. How are you even going to buy her dinner?”
“She likes dinner?”
“Everybody likes dinner. But dinner costs money.”
“Mommy, you’re a writer, you make money.”
“Lev, that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever said.”
“It’s not funny! It’s not a joke! You make money. I play. You’re a writer, I’m a player.”
“You sound like a rap song, Lev.”
“I want to buy the lady Marine pizza.”
“I’m sure she’ll love that.”
“Pizza with cheese.”
“You’ll need more toppings than that. What kind will you have?”
“Pizza with… Pizza with love. And with beautiful… sheep.”
“Um. Those are perfect, Lev.”

***

“Oh. My. Gosh. Look at her butt… Mommy, why are they looking at the butt?”
“Because it’s big and beautiful.”
“Big butts are beautiful?”
“Very beautiful.”
“And small butts are beautiful?”
“Very much so.”
“Everyone has a butt?”
“Everyone.”
“Does God have a butt?”
“I have no idea.”
“Why do you have no idea?”
“Well, it’s hard to tell with God. Because God is mysterious. God is hard to figure out.”
“Does God have a butt?”
“I literally just told you – I don’t know.”
“Oh. My. Gosh. Look at… God’s butt… Why are you laughing, mommy?”
“No reason, Lev.”

***

“Mommy’s sad, Lev.”
“Sad, mad, glad?”
“Just sad.”
“Because of the police?”
“No.”
“Because Grandpa Kolya died?”
“Well, I wasn’t thinking about him just this minute. But yes, that’s also very sad.”
“He went away? Very far away? And he won’t come back?”
“Well, it’s a mystery. His body is gone. But I think a part of him is still around. With us. With you.”
“But I can’t see him.”
“Well, do you remember the Little Prince? He said that you can’t see some things. But it doesn’t mean they’re not there. They’re there, but your eyes don’t see them. You see them with your heart, I guess.”
“The heart is in here, how can it see?”
“Well, it’s euphemism. The heart is an organ. But when we talk about it seeing things, we’re talking about a different kind of seeing.”
“Different kind…”
“Do you love me, Lev?”
“I love you, mommy.”
“And does mommy love you too?”
“Yes.”
“But can you see my love?”
“I can see you. I can see the book. And the washing machine.”
“Can you see my love?”
“… No.”
“But is the love there? Do you feel it?”
“… Yes.”
“So something can be there, but your eyes can’t see it. But you know it’s there. And when somebody dies, you can’t see them, but they can also be there. It’s hard to explain. It’s a mystery. Like I said.”
“It’s not a mystery. It’s a history!”
“Are you making a joke again, Lev?”
“Yes.”

___________________
These conversations with Lev – who turns six today! Hooray, Lev! – are mostly conducted in a mixture of English and Russian (with the occasional Ukrainian or Greek word thrown in for kicks), and therefore have been edited for your reading pleasure. This blog exists because you’re good-looking and generous.
No guilt-trip, just good times

12 thoughts on ““Do Marines like cake?” “Does God have a butt?” Conversations with a five-year-old

  1. Yep, sounds about right. My daughter will be 7 in November, and wow, the stuff that’s come out of her mouth in the past couple of years…

  2. This is awesome. My nephew (6 years old) was at the grocery store with me and saw a big Boston butt on the shelf. Due to its size he asked me what it was and I replied “its a Boston butt”. His looked confused and after a long pause said “Why would you cut somethin’s butt off and eat it???”

  3. Happy 6th anniversary of your birth day, as my English teacher would say! You sound like a cool guy to have fries with and discuss the meaning of life.

  4. He’s 6 already? Time flies. I wish I wasn’t so poor.This convo was so adorable I’d make a donation if I could. The best I can do is a song for the little guy, from my buddy Georgij and Russkaja. In light of the Trump administration’s idiotic policy decisions, I figured it would be beneficial to start tryina learn to speak Russian again. Georgij gives great tutorials. And he has a cool haircut and a rockin beard 😀

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