D Man is slightly obsessed with dying at the moment, and when I say slightly I’m playing it down.
Every time his little voice pipes up with another question my mind starts racing because I really don’t know if I’m handling it properly. I mean, I’m being honest about it. That’s what you do with kids, right?
I’m being frank and matter of fact, but whilst not sugar coating it exactly, I’m definitely not discussing childhood illnesses that may cause imminent death, so we’re working with honesty, to a point.
It’s curly questions like these that really make me realise my boy is no longer a baby. His little synapses are processing stuff and putting stuff together and asking some big questions…. ones I’m not totally prepped for. I think when it comes time for sex and wanking conversations, I’ll be all over it, but something about this death chat freaks me a bit. I’m not afraid of death myself, but D Man is getting upset by all of his questions.
I’m really not certain where his new curiosity has sprung from but a typical conversation goes something like this.
‘Mama, am I going to die?’
‘Yes, honey, everyone dies one day, but I hope you’re not going to die for a really long time.’
‘Are you going to die?’
‘I am, but I’m not planning on it until I’m older than Grandpapa.’
(Sorry Dad, somehow you became the benchmark for old age. His great grandparents are simply too old to fathom.)
Often around this mark of the conversation he will start to keen a little, or whimper.
‘I don’t want you to die.’
This is where it gets tricky……because I’m not trained for this conversation, and because I HAVE NO TACT. This part is the part where my mouth goes dry, and my mind races to find the right words to explain that death is a part of life. It’s inevitable, and although it’s sad to lose someone…..then breaking my revery he cries -
‘I don’t want Kiki to die!!!’
I try to gently explain the whole Circle of Life business but we’re not quite up to wrapping our heads around the idea ; we seem to be stuck on the death part.
The biggest thing kids have a hard time understanding, apparently, is the permanence of death. That you no longer eat, or sleep, or breathe. I feel like he gets that though, hence the fear he has of death.
It wouldn’t be so bad if he just asked once or twice, but we’re covering the same territory probably twice a day at the moment. I thought I would turn to my trusty parenting encyclopaedia The Internet, but the first site I came across suggested a good way to broach the subject is when a family pet dies.
Now, I admit wholeheartedly that Mister Pants can be an utter jerk but I don’t think killing him and holding a kitty funeral is the solution here… nor is buying a stupid fish tank with stupid fish that I’ll be stuck cleaning once a week until I do actually kill the unfortunate creatures who inhabit it.
Surely, that’s more of a lesson in murder than mortality?
Most posts are about teaching a child to cope with grief after loss, or expressing my own sadness at losing a loved one. We haven’t actually lost a loved one, nor a pet, so it’s not like death has knocked on our door with it’s cold and brittle fingers. This inquisitiveness has come out of the blue.
It’s totally normal, I realise, and even covering the same ground many times over is fine, he’s just processing. Apparently I should be encouraging further discussion about it to make sure we’ve really got everything covered off in his brain but I’m just kinda sitting with it and letting him drive this one.
I figure as long as he doesn’t start asking me about my will, I won’t worry that he’s asking about my death.
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