Remembering your loved ones through rip signs.

My six-year-old is a near-constant crackup. (When she’s not being a butt.) She’s also insanely smart and driven toward autodidactic habits (I’m proud to say, as encouraged by me and her father at all times). 

So, this morning she’s looking at Google Earth, randomly taking street tours of Cornwall, India, Iceland, and (I think) Pennsylvania, and I’m puttering away with getting my medications for the day in order and finding my pants.

Apropos of nothing, I hear: “Mommy, are your grandparents dead?”

I tell her, carefully (because hell if I know how this is gonna go), that yes, most of my grandparents have passed away.

She takes it pretty equitably. “Oh. That’s sad.” A long pause, and then: “But you still see them on rip signs, though, right?”

I stop — pants a distantly-abandoned goal — and say, “I beg your pardon?”

She looks confused, now. She gets the look on her face that she gets when she can’t decide if she’s in trouble or about to be subjected to a learning experience. (Usually, it’s both. I’m all about economy of parenting.) 

She says, “You know… Rip signs?”

My dumbfounded expression is matched only by my witty, “I have no clue what the hell you’re talking about.”

Because it’s before 9am and I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.

Siobhan is familiar with my cold-boot times, however, and repeats herself — the soul of prepubescent patience — adding, “The signs that say ‘Rip so-and-so, they were very nice’?”

At which point I about die.

We’ve since discussed what acronyms are and what ‘RIP’ stands for. And that those “signs” are actually grave markers to tell people where the bodies are buried so that they can come and visit.

She looked at me in relief. “OH! That makes a lot more sense.”



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