June 21, 2007

Getting Dead

The kid's been on a kick about dying [or as she puts it, "getting dead"] lately.

It started with balloons and flowers, then animals, roadkill, the disappearing creatures at the National Zoo, old people, then wanting to know why people die. She'd overhear us talking about the war--wars, really--and want into the conversation.

We try to explain wars, and battles, and accidents, and sickness and ageing. But I notice we haven't mentioned murder or killing. I say notice because my wife and I take turns with our explanations, deferring, trying to sense how far each of us is comfortable taking the conversation. Because obviously, we hadn't anticipated this coming up, not yet, even though trying to figure out how the world works and where she fits in it is the kid's major occupation.

I'm reminded of these conversations by Eric Meyer's account of his 3-year-old daughter's questions about being born and growing up and dying. Though some of his answers differ from our religiously inflected ones, his experience feels very similar.

Growing Up [meyerweb.com via waxy]

1 Comment

When my son was about 3.5, he asked lots of questions about death, too. Like, "When are we going to die?" And, "Are you going to die before I do?" Eep! My best answer was "Not until we've lived our whole life." These questions came up off and on for months, be forewarned. "Do skunks die?" I said, "Yes, all animals die." "Even horses?" On seeing a dead bug, He said, "That bug is dead. It lived its whole life." And again, "Do cats die? Do dogs die?" We told him, "Everything that's living dies." "Do trees die?" We've talked about the different ways that trees die. And how a hurricane can knock down a tree and make it dead. Once he said, "I won't die till I'm a grown-up." I answered, "Yes, but first you'll do a lot of other things as a grown-up. What things do you think you'll do when you're grown up?" He answered, "Use a knife?"

This was also an age when he started having some dreams about death, too. I remember one was about "dinosaurs making people dead."

[I'd say, "have him write a book about that dream and then get Spielberg to do the movie," but someone beat him to the punch... that said, using a knife and turning on the oven are both big on the kid's to-do list, too. It's always good to have a goal. -ed.]

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