“What does die mean Mummy?” Nothing like frank conversation with a 3 year old…
M is currently fascinated with death. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty awkward. Especially the questions in public. Museum – “How did HE die daddy? Is he really dead? What about her?” Squashed insect on the pavement – “Mummy that fly is DEAD! Look – DEAD!” (gasp).With best friend in garden “I’m gonna make you dead, then you have to fall on the ground and go rahhhh”.
I think it started when we went for a walk in our beautiful, local cemetery. Yeah I know. Cemetery = graves = dead people = questions. Derr. M had just got his balance bike and I was heavily pregnant and just needed to get him out of the house (I swear my son is just like a dog, he stays in longer than 2 hours and he’s desperately pawing at the door, or actually just starting to massively play up and either lash out madly or flop around whingeing – not sure which one is more annoying).
So we were wandering around looking at the gorgeous church and flowers and then, inevitably… “Mummy what are all the stones in the ground? What are the words on them? What does die mean?” Ah. I had stupidly not prepared for this moment. I’ve always been keen to be honest with my small people about life and not dress things up or be scared to tell them the truth – but suddenly I felt very vulnerable and way too responsible for this…
My best effort went something like this:
Me: When people get very old, or very poorly, they fall asleep and sadly don’t wake up.
M: Like at the theatre when Mr Bloom woke the lady up with a kiss? (this surprised me as Sleeping Beauty was 6 months ago at the panto).
Me: Ummm, yes. Except a kiss wouldn’t wake them. They’ve gone to a happy place where we can’t go.
M: Why can’t we go there?
Me: Because we’re alive.
M: When can we go there?
Me: When we’re very old or so poorly that we die. (Cringe.)
Big pause. I feel a bit sick.
M: What does die mean again Mummy?
Repeat conversation. Try to change conversation.
Where’s ‘That’s Not my Coffin’ when you need it?
I’m sure there must be decent books out there on this kind of thing, but I’ve yet to investigate. I’ll put this one off as long as I possibly can…