Sunday morning my wife and I broke the news to Kathryn about the death of our dog so many miles away, and after the grieving (a second grader can pass through all seven stages of grief in thirty minutes flat, twenty if you casually mention the ice-pops in the freezer) we decided to spend the rest of the day, just she and I, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It was delightful.
Kathryn's mind is an interesting place. Like most children, she has an amazing capacity to forget that which she deems unimportant and remember with frightening detail that which she values. Something Kathryn can do without: Proper nouns. Something about which her depth of knowledge surpasses anyone you know: Mythology. Greek mythology, to be exact. Oh, and Webkinz.
For about a year we've been reading to Kathryn from D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, and for a year she has been absorbing it, filling her brain with it, treasuring its information in place of such mundanities as her best friend's identity or where we live. Or how to spell her middle name. Which is Rose. So we thought the time might be right to try another trip to the Met, hoping that their collection of ancient Greek art would dazzle her into forgetting the tragic announcement of the day. We had taken Kathryn there a few years back, but she had been too young then to be impressed by anything other than the way her big voice echoed in those quiet rooms. We hadn't stayed long.
This time, though, it was magic. And by magic, I mean she laughed a lot at all the naked penises.
I had forgotten that the Greek wing was really nothing but an astoundingly large number of naked torsos carved in marble, their arms, legs, and heads all having fallen prey to the elements, leaving just one appendage behind. And its two friends.
Hercules was the hero that rescued Kathryn from the thrall of the thousands of bedicked torsos, not because his manhood was covered, but because his back was. "Hercules!" Kathryn yelled, spying him across the hall. I asked how she knew. "He's wearing a lion skin," she replied with extra eye-rolly action. (If they ever made a Kathryn action figure, it would come with Extra Eye-Rolly Action! And I'd come with the Power to Not Strangle the Stranglable! Stranglible? Stranglable? It's hard living out here on the outskirts of English.) Hercules led to Perseus, Perseus led to Medusa, and Medusa led to Marsyas. And Marsyas led to me wondering just who it was my wife gave birth to seven years ago.
"Oh." (Looks a little longer then turns to skip away.)
"Wait! Don't you want to know who he is? Don't you want to know why he looks like that?"
"Daddy. He looks like that because he thought he could play music better than Apollo. He couldn't so Apollo pulled off his skin to make a drum."
And that's pretty much how the rest of the day went, Kathryn bouncing from piece to piece and me struggling to keep up, both physically and intellectually, with the world's preeminent Greek scholar. Who skips.