Friday, October 15, 2010

Life and Death

Well, my daughters fish Shiny died today and thankfully I noticed and she didn't. So I did as any real coward would and ran to the store and got an identical fish before she figured it out. Now, we are not the coddling type when it comes to parenting but I just couldn't bring myself to see her reaction to the dead fish. I think at the age of four she understands the concept of death and she was abstractly exposed to it when we lost a baby half way into the pregnancy but she has never looked it in the face. She has seen the other side of the coin with her new baby brother. During my pregnancy she asked way too many questions which I answered truthfully and factually. She also watched videos of birth and did not freak out. She is smart that way.
I know that we absolutely have to be real and at some point a loved one will die or one of the dogs and I will regret not dealing with this sooner. The thing is I simply had not thought about what I would say in order for it to make sense to her. I also wanted to explain it without using fantasy or God. The age of four is an especially difficult one lending itself to many many hysterical fits of crying for no apparent reason. So to ensure a plain old Thursday I took the easy road. I am now having occasional fits of guilt for telling a huge lie mostly when I look at the fish. But so far there have been no hysterias and she didn't notice Shiny II is quite a bit smaller... yet! I guess this will be one of those stories we tell her when she is older and I hope we will all laugh together at how terrified I was...


  1. I've had a beloved frog, rabbit (and pregnancy) die during Django's 2nd-3rd years of life, and I decided to go ahead and wing the whole life-and-death discussion -- without talk of God or other fantastical beings -- and it all seems to have gone over well (so far!) So if Shiny II dies, and you can't stand the guilt, give me a call and I can at least tell you what kinds of things I said!

  2. Chloe's fish died a few months ago and I told her the truth. Shhe took it like a champ. In fact, just last week she wrote and sung a song about how mommy killed her fishy. Morbid, but clever!

  3. We have a few fish in our tank and when one died the other week Tilly didn't even notice one was missing (thankfully). Her only concept of death is that she has a Grandfather that she can't see (but I say that he's always with us... because he is!). She has been to his grave but what does that mean to her? I have no idea. Why teach about death until is happens? Isn't life difficult enough?? Good on you Mummy Bek - I would have done exactly the same. Jode from Oz xxx