Sunday, 1 June 2014

Poo, death and duckies - conversations with a toddler

As an inquisitive four-year-old, Lily has a lot of questions to ask on a regular basis, and (in common with many of her friends) a fascination with poo.  When I am "naughty" (for naughty, read refuse her chocolate), I am a "poo poo" or "poo poo mummy."  When something goes wrong, it's a "poo poo [insert name of object]"  And of course when one of the boys or Evie produces the goods in their nappy, it's a subject of much fascination (so fascinated was she with a recent effort of Evie's that she wanted to phone her auntie and tell her all about it...).

Poo, I can cope with.

But what do you say to a four-year-old who asks about 'Daddy's Mummy'  (Ray's parents died a few years before she was born)?

Lily has a basic understanding of what 'death' and 'dead' mean, but doesn't really see it as applying to human beings, unless of course they've been run over like a hedgehog... (squashed animals on the side of the road lead to long, drawn-out conversations).  This is enough to make her cautious on the pavement, thank goodness.  But as for the other 'death', the idea of people she knows and loves dying, or her parents biting the dust, in many ways I'd rather she didn't know about that...  Once known, it can never be "unknown" as the saying goes...

Plus, I'm not sure what to tell her... When I was young and growing up in a very Christian household, I learnt about death, alongside Heaven and Hell.  But I am not sure what I believe now as far as God goes, and certainly don't want to pass my insecurities to her.  Nor do I want her to know about the idea of 'Hell' (which plagued me throughout my childhood as a sensitive/paranoid individual...)  So Lily knows nothing of heaven, or God, at the moment. When she's older, I'll tell her about these beliefs and she can choose for herself.

With the 'Daddy's Mummy' question, I had to tell her that Daddy's Mummy had died a long time ago.  Her instant question was: "was she squashed on the road?"  So I then had to tell her that sometimes when people are 'very old' they die.  Thankfully, the questions stopped.  But what a minefield!

And as for Duckies... the latest craze in the Harvey household is for fluffy ducks (of which thankfully we have three).  The weekend has been full of "Ducky on the Slide!" "Ducky on the Trampoline" and, at present, I have to be uber quiet as Lily's Ducky is sleeping...

Ducks, I can handle, poo I can tolerate.  But please don't ask me about dying; I've no idea what to say!

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