July 28, 2007

It'll Get You in the End

Pixie loves signs. She finds it endlessly amusing that random signs around town try to tell us what to do. "What does that sign say, mommy?" she'll ask. "No dogs allowed," I reply and she breaks into giggles.

At the arboretum last week Pixie saw a plaque on a park bench. "What does this sign say?" she asked.
"In loving Memory of Helen Burgess," I read.
"Why does it say that?"
"Because Helen died and she probably loved sitting in this garden when she was alive."
"Why did she die?'"
I then gave Pixie the Death 101 speech. When you get old, you die and go to heaven to live with Heavenly Father. Everybody dies when they get old and it's no biggie.

"But I don't want to die."
"Don't worry, little girls don't die. Only adults."
"Are you going to die?"
"Not yet, I'm not very old."
"Is Grandpa Bill going to die?"
"No, he's got a few years left."
"Is Grandma Helen going to die?" (her great grandmother)

Pixie let out a sad moan but c'mon, I can't very well keep everyone alive for her, can I? Trying to make her feel better I assured her, "but she'll get to go see Heavenly Father."
"What will he say?"
Pixie was unimpressed.

Okay, so I've got a ways to go on this parenting thing. Maybe by the time Cher is talking I'll have figured out the right way to have this conversation. But I doubt it. Any ideas out there on how to keep a two year old from worrying about death?


Samantha said...

This was a funny post. I look forward to these dilemnas.

Susan M said...

Whenever my kids would ask things I never knew how to answer (like "What will HF say?") I asked them what they thought. Usually they'd come up with something that satisfied them.

compulsive writer said...

Here's I've been complaining all summer about the drought and you go on a posting spree (read the heavens opened and its pouring Hollywood Flakes posts) and I almost missed it!

Um Hi! That's great!

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

Considering the attention span of toddlers, her short memory may take care of your problem for you. :)

Thanks for the idea, Susan M. I'll have to remember that one.

emma jo said...

That's funny. Just this week I had that exact conversation with my four year old. She just kept saying, I don't want to die and all I could tell her was, "then you had better eat your vegetables."

Amber said...

I'm giggling. I hate being the mom when questions like this come up. I like Susan M's plan.

Dad said...

Careful...I just spent the evening with Grandma Helen and I assure you she is alive and well. Don't wirte her off just yet - plus if she reads this she will want to know that you are looking forward to seeing her and HER SEEING YOU.

Love dad (also alive and well)

Suzie Petunia said...

Death... oh, yah that is a fun one to explain to young children. Today my 8 year old asked what "suicide" meant. And you thought YOU had it rough!

chanel said...

i went through this same thing, and trust me you handled it much better! i just said nobody is ever going to die.
poor grandma helen, i hope she doesn't read this, because, i think i must believe my own teachings that nobody is ever going to die, and thus this post might really shake her sense of reality, it has mine.

Lisa M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heffalump said...

I tagged you for a creative/thoughtful blog award on my Daily Dose of Mischief Blog.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Heffalump! I try not to waste words with you guys - I'm honored to receive the recognition!

Eve said...

I don't have advice about this one. Thankfully 2 year olds have short memories on most things. She may worry for awhile but it should pass. If she starts painting her nails black and getting into the Goth or Emo scenes, you know there's major trouble.

mcewen said...

Visiting from A Daily of Dose of Mischief to check you and your blog out.
I never know what to say either, so you're doing pretty well from where I'm looking!
Best wishes

the wiz said...

My four year old daughter told everyone in her preschool class that they would get old and die. She totally traumatized them, especially one little boy who didn't want to have any more birthday parties anymore.

They asked her questions like "Is my mom going to die?"

"yep.Your grandma too."

She was very matter of fact about it. I don't know why she was thinking about it or why she was talking about it, but she was not scared at all, but every other little kid freaked out!

Ang said...

My six year old neice doesn't want anyone or anything to die. She doesn't want to eat pig or cow because they would have to die. She doesn't have as much of a problem with chicken. I don't think she fully grasps that the white cutlet on her dinner plate used to be alive. It probably hasn't hit her that bacon is pig and burgers come from cows.

pflower10 said...

Get her a hamster!

After about 2 weeks or so when it has kicked the bucket don't forget to sing Disney's "Circle of Life" while burying it. Sooner or later she'll catch on.

Works like a charm I tell ya, ...LIKE...A....CHARM!!!!!

Th. said...


I just dress them in black and play emo day in and day out.

Adrienne said...

Hey, look, at least you were honest. Plus, look at it this way, you have the religion angle to work for comfort, so you headed off the existential freak-out at the pass. I can't have kids, I have no idea what I'd tell them. "Uh... sorry kid, nobody knows."

PFlower10- Two weeks???? I think we need to talk about your hamster skillz...

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about it. Sounds like you handled the situation with honesty and grace. I was deeply concerned about the idea of dying when I was a child, and while still have no idea of what's waiting for us at the end of the ride, I eventually stopped worrying about it.

Children are supposed to fear death. We're just supposed to reassure them, and tell them comforting stories. Eventually, they'll learn to save their fear for something more deserving.

Like clowns. Or dentists.

Or dentist clowns.

Sarah said...

The dentist clowns comment is fantastically freaky! I hope Adum doesn't read that comment - it'll give him nightmares for months.

Getting Penny a "disposable" pet is a good idea. Actually, any pet we'd get would be disposable. I have a pretty good track record of killing off things. None of my friends wanted me to have kids for that reason. Whoops!

It's a hard path to follow - on the one hand, I want Penny to be afraid of death for things like swimming in the pool by herself or running into the street but on the other hand, I want her to understand the whole big scheme of us going back to live in Heaven after this life and death being an essential part of the plan. I guess she'll be fine no matter what though. My kids have a way of not being as screwed up as they should be even though I'm their mom. Thank goodness!

Adrienne said...

Dentist clows?



Adrienne said...

CLOWNS! crud...

John said...

Mamie and I already spoke with Lucy about death back when she was 3 months old, so we dont have to worry about that anymore.

Rachelle said...

Hay Sarah!!
Don't worry, you think you don't know what to do, then someday when you are wracked with grief over a loss, your teenager will run away, leaving you thinking he's an insensitive twit, only to have him reappear at your side with a book that he searched through to find a sweet and touching passage about death- just to read to you to help.
This happened when we lost one of our pacas, I was actually outside next to her crying when my son did this.

So, somehow it all works out in the end.

Oh, and here's your chance. You might never actually OWN an alpaca, but come over ot my place, and you might get to NAME one!!

pflower10 said...

I though hamsters had a shelf life of about 2 weeks......am I wrong?!?!?!

Adrienne said...

Well, they do if you're keeping them on a shelf. In a box. With the rest of the dry goods...

pflower10 said...

I guess that explains it then