So, I have a question for all you parents out there. How do you (or did you) talk to your children about death? I hate death. I have a real problem with death. I think a lot of my anxiety and OCD comes from having to deal with death at a very young age. Death and I are not friends, yet, but I hope to some day become more comfortable with it. I mean, I’m not getting out of here alive, so I better figure it out. We’re all gonna die people…happy day!
So anyways, Riley has recently become very interested in death. She is three and has no idea what it means yet, but she knows that it is sad and I can see her little brain working hard to figure it out. This first came up a few months ago after watching the movie Barnyard. Have you seen it? No? You should. It is cute. Spoiler alert though, the daddy cow dies. Every time (yes we’ve watched it a lot) this part comes on, Riley looks up at me with those big blue eyes and says “What’s happening, Mommy.” Her lip quivers and her eyes well with tears and I just want to cuddle her and say, “It’s ok my love.” Instead, I’m incredibly awkward and say scary things like:
“Well, sometimes you get really hurt and you don’t get better”
…. Yea that is traumatic, way to go, Jenna… Mom of the year over here.
“He got hurt saving the chickens and had to go to Heaven”
… this leads to more questions, like “what is heaven?”… and me being like “Momma needs more wine before answering that one.”
And if that isn’t bad enough, our sweet, sweet, 6 year old neighbor was over watching it with Riley one night and the situation got even worse. The part in question came on and Riley proceeded to ask, “What’s happening Momma?” … I launch into one of my awkward answers…
Me: “well, the daddy cow got really hurt and now his body has to rest…. <<FOREVER>>”
Little Neighbor Friend: “Well, am I going to be buried in the ground some day?“
Dear lord….ok this is too deep for me kid. Where is your mother? What is the right answer to this question? Surely it is not, “Uh, well yea, someday, that or burned in a big oven.”
Are you kidding me? No kids will ever be allowed back at the Stewart’s house if you allow me to deal with this on my own. So, help me out.
And, while we are on the topic of dying, Riley’s fish just croaked. Poor Toby. We all kind of forgot that we had a fish. It shouldn’t surprise any of you. I can’t keep anything alive that isn’t my dog, my children, or myself. I kill plants of all kind and now fish apparently. I’m a murderer. He didn’t have a chance.
Riley hasn’t noticed yet, but I am debating on what to tell her. Maybe I should do what most parents do and go get another look-a-like fish. That just seems wrong though. I probably should have had some kind of goodbye ceremony but I didn’t think that far ahead and already disposed of poor Toby’s emaciated body, which clearly hadn’t had any nourishment for far too long. Rest in peace little guy.
I’m failing at this. Give me your tips and I will gladly consider them over a
bottle glass of wine.
PS. If you need 20 minutes to yourself, Barnyard is the way to go.