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Momma Swallowed a Fly

Friday, August 05 2005

Are you familiar with the story/song about the old lady who swallowed a fly? We have a wonderfully illustrated book by Simms Taback that tells the classic tale of a lady who ends up dying after eating a fly, which is followed by a spider, and eventually a horse. It’s on Leah’s list of preferred books.

Rather than hide the issue of death from her, we tell the story verbatim. She’s beginning to get the idea of what “dead” means, as we discuss dead insects and dead plants. Her explanations of motionless flies in windowsills have transitioned from “He’s taking a long rest” to “It’s dead!”

Last night we took a hike through a tree farm near our house with the kids in the backpacks. We spent a good portion of our hike brushing flies away from our face. At one point, Carrie inhaled a fly, and went through all the appropriate reactions, including coughing and producing a scene that was no doubt both fascinating and alarming to Leah at the same time.

On the drive home, Leah couldn’t stop asking about the fly. “Can I see it, is it in your tummy?” was said at least a dozen times on the short drive. Leah was suddenly obsessed, no doubt assuming that her Mom was now going to have to swallow a whole host of animals and then finally a horse, which would kill her of course.

Leah then offered up the perfect solution to the problem and was content from that point on. “Momma swallowed a fly, so when we get home she can lay down and rest. Then she’ll fart and the fly will fly out the window.”