Monday. 6:20PM. The kitchen. Liz is making dinner, Ida is at the sink, Nate is working in the nearby office.

Liz: Hurry up, stupid chicken! (Liz needs to leave for class in 20 minutes and is determined, after many days of there being no nicely cooked food, for today to be the day. Realizes again that she just said “stupid” in front of Ida, and that she is the problem).

Nate: I can finish it, I just need to finish this edit (music) real quick.

Liz: (having reached the edge, for the same strange reasons we’re all pushed by – the ones we can’t totally articulate, but feel so fully) I HAVE REACHED THE EDGE.

(begins crying, continues stir-frying) We need another person.

Nate: We’re okay. This is just a really busy time.

Liz: We need a third person. We need a support person.

Ida: (looks up from the rice she’s washing, points to each person as she counts) Mama, 1, Papa, 2, Ida, 3! I’ll be the support person!

Tuesday.  2PM. The kitchen.

Ida: (blasts into the kitchen full-speed on her scooter) What is that food?! (stares at the frosted blueberry poptart Liz is covertly trying to eat).

Liz: This is called a poptart. (sees Ida’s eyes light up, makes terrible choice) It’s only for Mamas. 

Ida: Is it bad for children’s bodies?

Liz: Yes (omits admission that it is bad for anyone’s body)

Ida: Is it junk food?

Liz: Yes.

Ida: MAMA’S EATING JUNK FOOD! (Ida scoots away, declaring this truth through the apartment)

Thursday. Lunch. Ida and Liz sit at the dining room table eating.

Liz: Did your teachers make a career book? They sent an email to me that they made a book all about your classmates’ parents’ jobs.

Ida: Yes! There was a picture of you and a picture of Papa!

Liz: What were we doing?

Ida: Jobs! Papa was playing a drum in his office and you were dancing and then making people laugh. (beat) I like us.

Liz: I like us too. 

Ida: When I’m big I’m going to go to school all the time, and do performances, but I’m also going to be a Mama and I’ll always take my girl to ballet class and the park and be at home to eat pizza. I’m not going to be gone as much as you. 

Liz: Do you think I’m gone too much, Ida?

Ida: No but can you put me to bed tonight?

Liz: No, I’m sorry honey.

Ida: Tonight is too much. 

Liz: I feel that way right now too. I’m sorry.

Ida: What about the next day?

Liz: Not the next day either. The next time I can put you to bed is Saturday. 

Saturday. 8PM. Ida’s bedroom. Liz has recently put Ida to bed, closed the door, has just finished loading the dishwasher and cued up the much-looked-forward-to Parks and Rec. epi. She sits down on the couch…

Ida: MAMA! I need you! Right now! I need you!

Liz: (runs, fearing a river of blood) Ida! I’m here! What?

Ida: I don’t want to die ever!

Liz: (gets in bed with Ida) Thinking about dying can be scary. Are you scared?

Ida: I don’t want anyone to die. When will you die? When will I die? When will Papa die? When will Maude die?

Liz: I don’t know, honey. We’re all doing our best to live for a long time. There are lots of things we do to make sure we don’t die before we’ve lived a good, full life, like exercising, and eating good food, and wearing our helmets and seatbelts, and loving each other. But death is a mystery.

Ida: Who will die first?

Liz: Maude will probably die first.

Ida: How will I die?

Liz: I don’t know, honey. I hope that when you die, your body will peacefully stop working the way it’s supposed to. I hope you die when you’re very old and that you die when you feel ready.

Ida: I’m never going to feel ready.

Liz: I don’t think I will either, Ida. 

Ida: I hope I don’t die before kindergarten.

Liz: Me too. But it’s almost my whole job to make sure you don’t die before you grow up, and what do you think? Am I good at being your mom?

Ida: You’re the best mom. 

Ida cries and cries, and I wonder if I should have just lied and told her she would never die.