Let me start off by saying, this isn’t so much a “how to” post, this is more of a “I need some advice” post. You see, Sawyer is now almost three and he’s starting to ask questions I am just not sure how to answer.
It was last Tuesday and I was having a particularly stinky day (which is unusual for me). Jeff and I had gone to check out a promising rental lead that turned out to be a bust, and so he had to work late and my parents had to come early to watch the kids. So I was stuck alone until 10pm and we didn’t find a home. Tim’s got my coffee wrong and I just felt blue.
I didn’t even feel like walking the dogs that day, but I told myself to shake it off and so off we went. I had Jessie and Sawyer took Juno (as usual).
We were walking down one of our usual routes when Jessie dove under someone’s hedge. “Great!” I thought, “What garbage has she found now?”
But as a pulled her head back I was shocked to see fur in her mouth! “Drop it! Drop it!” I yelled and she dropped a rather large ground hog onto the side walk. I was stunned. I have never seen a ground hog in Toronto, not even working in wildlife rescue.
It was shaking on the cement, and I knew better than to touch an animal in pain. There were no tooth marks or blood so I half expected it to scamper off. But it didn’t. I could tell that look in its eye (I have seen it before), It was dying.
I cried and scolded Jessie, my brain frazzled (it all happened so fast) half forgetting Sawyer was standing there watching me.
I saw it stop breathing. I carefully picked up the poor thing to make sure it was dead and it voided its bowels. It was gone.
If you are not a regular reader, I am am avid animal lover. My pets are rescues, I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years, and I have done everything from bottle feed kittens to raccoons. So, naturally, I was devastated.
I laid the body back down in the bush, fighting back the tears. Then Sawyer looked at me and said, “it’s okay mommy. Someone is going to make it better and adopt it”. I didn’t know what to say so I just nodded and sighed “yes”.
What do you say to a two year old? I didn’t want to lie but I don’t think he’s old enough to understand death. I didn’t want to upset him either (even though he could tell I was upset).
We are not religious folk, although I think if we were it would have been easy to say he went to a wonderful place called Heaven. (In fact, I still might use that one). I suppose it’s also the context. I mean if it was a family member who died it would be a bit different.
I am now excited but a little afraid since reaching his third birthday means we are venturing into new territory. Once he is a little older at least I will be able to think back to ways I learned, but I don’t remember anything from when I was his age.
So, does anyone have any ideas about discussing difficult subjects with your kids? Are there any subjects I should be ready for so I am not caught off guard again? Particular books or websites you like? I’d appreciate the feedback, for me and anyone else who might be in a similar situation.