As parents we get lots of questions about lots of stuff.
If we’re not inundated with homework, our work, phones ringing, dogs barking, dinner cooking, softball practice and doorbells bing-bonging, we can take a moment and come up with the appropriate answers.
Sometimes I can get a math problem wrong, but my back-up spouse proofreads and corrects it. We basically have two check points for school work.
But I admit that I was unprepared for what my daughter threw at me as we were coming out of school recently.
I began with the usual questions – “How was school? Anything new? How was the social studies test?”
But I noticed she was ignoring the light banter.
She tilted her chin up and I could see the tears welling in her eyes. She didn’t ask me a question, but simply said, “I don’t want to die.”
It was not an emphatic statement, instead weak and muffled.
My response? Deer in headlights.
It was late in the afternoon, I was dragging and here was a profound issue. My mind raced. And stalled.
The “Lion King” came to mind - I know, most folks are probably thinking, is this woman always watching kid shows? But somehow I had to reach her level. And I say reach because I was now floating somewhere at the bottom of the bucket for wisdom.
Everyone’s answer would have some common elements. Dying is a natural phenomena and no one is exempt. Well, I guess Elijah from the Old Testament was exempt, having been taken up into heaven without dying. But every culture and religion would have a slightly different spin on what to tell children.
I impressed upon my child that it is a natural part of living. And in our household we believe that we will live again in an after life because of we believe in Christ. However, I also used a bit of biblio-therapy.
There are some great books for kids our there that bring home their story in a positive manner, in particular “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia, a tale that relates how leaves die and literally recycle into the earth.
My daughter and I talked about our afterlife and she said she didn’t “want to go into the ground.”
As usual, grandparents to the rescue! I told my daughter that my parents would be place d above ground in a mausoleum. I told her it’s just like falling asleep in a drawer. She got that, calmed a bit and didn’t ask more questions when I probed a bit.
I left things silent for a good bit before considering the question answered.
It’s important that we give our kids the answers they require! Too much information will not be processed properly and may lead to more of a crisis. Keep it short, definitely sweet and to the point. No details are required if none are asked for.
The arrival of spring is a great analogy to rebirth and new beginnings. Wrap your beautiful new bouquet around that!