“I don’t want the white boy to die!”

Boo’s starting to listen to lyrics.

One of our favorite songs (of course) is the classic Play That Funky Music (White Boy), which climaxes on a bass riff to the lyric:

“Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you DIE.”

(Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.)

“Till you DIIIIYEEEE!”

My daughter has only just started to investigate death, mostly owing to an unfortunate experience smooshing a favorite baby ladybug. We also pulled over (at her insistence) the other day to take a closer look at (and smell of) a road-killed skunk. I don’t honestly know what’s going on for her when she witnesses these deaths, but I know there’s something in there: she kept asking when the skunk will wake up, and then saying it was sad to be dead. And the ladybug still comes up in conversation sometimes, three weeks later.

Fast forward to our most recent playing of the Wild Cherry hit: Boo was dancing and singing along as usual when she pulled herself up short. Her head was literally cocked to one side like the curious-dog cliche.

I love her grammar these days, although it can be a little hard to follow: translating slightly, she asked, “When will the white boy have to die?”

Hm. Where to go with this one? Lie, and tell her that they’re actually singing ‘tie’? Bring up the reversibility-of-death thing that children apparently still believe until they’re five or six?

I decided to go with the metaphor angle: I explained that in this case, ‘die’ means “be really, really tired because he’d been playing the bass guitar for so long under the hot lights with everyone looking at him.” I know, it was a lame answer, and Boo didn’t really buy it, but she let it pass, albeit with a slightly grey face.

Later, I took that song out of our playlist: a reminder to myself that Boo’s entering an age where she can make mental connections by herself and take them very, very seriously.

Maybe it’s because I took care of animals for so long, or maybe I just get overly involved with all the feeding, exercising, sleeping, and cleaning of a little body: sometimes I forget there’s a very human mind in there that needs just as much attention as any physical need.