Friday, September 07, 2007

Clearly unprepared

Today while leaving the park Iris noticed a dead squirrel lying under a tree. "Look mama!" she called, pointing it out to me. I steered her around it, reminding her not to touch it. "Is he sleeping?" she asked. Oh, boy. I should have said yes.
"No, honey, the squirrel isn't sleeping, it's dead."
"Oh. Well, is he going to wake up?"
"No, he's not. He's in squirrel heaven."
"Squirrel heaven? Is that right under the tree?"
Oh, crap. "No, it's in heaven, like, um, where Lily went."
"Well, but he's right there. Under the tree."
"Yes, his body is, but, um, his spirit is in squirrel heaven. Like his thoughts and stuff."
"Oh."
She watches him closely as I buckle her in to her car seat. Three crows have surrounded the dead squirrel by this point and are pecking at it, making the body jump about a bit.
"He's waking up!" Iris says, very excitedly.
"No, honey, the crows are just trying to move him."
"Oh."

So, yeah, I didn't exactly hit that one out of the ball park. It is hard for me to figure out what her level of understanding is. Sometimes it's actually much greater than I realized and sometimes it's much more shallow. I don't want to scare her with too much information, but at the same time, I don't want to confuse her with too little.

Anyone tackle the death idea yet?

We did a little bit when Lily died last fall. I suppose it was a little different then because she didn't see Lily dead. We just told Iris that Lily wasn't coming home and had gone to doggy heaven. She asked about Lily quite a bit at first, and actually still talks about her from time to time, but we didn't get in to too much detail about it. We read a book called "Dog Heaven" and it talks about what dogs do when they get to heaven. I presume that Iris thinks Lily just went off to live there. Sometimes I do, too, I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we have had that discussion. My hubby's mom died 2 years ago when Zoe was newly 4 and Xander 2. Since then, we've had 2 other GRandparents pass away as well. I got a small book from a Christian book store that is called something like "What happens When We Die" or something to that affect. Anyway, they descibe the soul as the inside of your body (the part you can't see) and the body as the outside that you can see to help kids understand the difference b/w the two.

    We focus alot of the conversation on the person getting to be in heaven with Jesus, and we will get to see them there again one day. Also, it being ok to be sad cause Mommy's sad too.

    Good Luck. Loads of fun to have this conversation, isn't it?

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