Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write.
It is 6:30 in the morning, and I am struggling to get a bit more sleep before the unstoppable force of my 3 year old gets revved up for the day. He is snuggled next to me, breath slow, face relaxed. I start to drift back into a deep sleep, when I hear;
“Mama, who dies?”
Suddenly, I am very awake.
“All people die? Mama going to die?” His little face crumples.
How do I explain something that I don’t understand? I don’t know how to have this conversation at any point, especially not sleep drunk at 6:30 am. Of course these are discussions that all parents have with their kids, but I thought I had a few more years.
I want to be as truthful as possible with my son. He has seen birds fly into windows, T-rex enjoying tasty dinosaur meals, and pictures of my grandmother who is no longer living.
So why was I surprised when he made the connection from birds, dinosaurs, and grandmothers to me, our dogs, all living beings? I tried to respond gently. I said something to the effect of, “After people live a long time, their bodies get very old and tired, and stop working”.
“Mama die now?” he cries.
“No sweetie. A very long time from now.”
We talked more about the dogs, other relatives. He was sad, but eventually changed course. I don’t think his brain could truly process these facts of existence. Neither can mine.
Did I handle it right? I have no idea. My goal is to be as gently truthful as possible. To answer his questions and ease him into comprehending life’s realities. I wish that I had all of the answers for him, but I don’t, and that’s okay with me.
In your journal today, write about a time when you did not know the answer to your child’s question. How did feel about your response at the time and how do you feel about it now? Would you handle it differently in retrospect?
Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogeditor (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas!