This is the short conversation I had with my son after ungracefully smacking a yellow jacket on my living room window sill.
Jude: “Did you make that bee sad?”
Me: “No, I made him dead.”
What you don’t get from the printed text of this interaction is the gravity of the life lesson I just taught my son and also the rather lengthy and swift inner dialogue I had with myself.
Here’s what really happened:
Enter bee flying redundantly into the window glass. Click, click.
Jude: screams and points “Mommy, get it!”
Me: Sits for about 30 seconds watching the futility of the bee’s situation.
Tries to think of a way to capture it and throw it out.
But then again, I usually kill bees in my house.
Wonders, has Jude ever seen me squash an insect?
Thinks about a conversation I had with him earlier that day about how we should just leave the bugs alone since we are in their home when we are outside.
Whatever you do, don’t do that squeamish eye-squint-arm-extension-panic-dance you do when killing insects, he’s afraid of bugs enough as it is.
Decides to capture it.
Gets up off the chair and walks closer.
Hears it buzzing.
Gets a chill.
Decides to kill it.
Tries to recall some enlightened passage of a parenting book about how to first introduce the “d” word to your kids.
Takes off a shoe.
Hopes he doesn’t ask but knows he will.
Jude: walks close to the bee and spends several seconds looking at it. Thinking. “Mommy, did you make that bee… [pauses for the right word]… sad?”
Me: unprepared for that particular question. Doesn’t answer right away. Then, “no, I made him….dead.” There, I said it. He needs to hear the “d” word. This is life. Or not, as the case may be.
Bee is still moving. Oh good, I get a second chance. The bee doesn’t really, but I do. “Maybe we should just put him outside.”
Takes a picture to document our important talk.
Uses a toy dish to scoop him up and fling him out the door.
I never thought about introducing my 15 month old twins to the concept of “dead” until reading this–whoa. Also, to the concept of nuanced inconsistency. Thanks for the read!
I know, this has been harder for me than I would have expected. My son since then has had lots of questions about death and I have to say, has taken it all very matter of fact. They just don’t have all the fears and feelings yet that we do about the subject. I’m doing my best not to communicate those things to him, but it has also led me to spend time considering the subject myself!
This is precious!
Christin, I love your inner dialogue!