Ok, so being pregnant, I anticipated I might be faced with the task of explaining to my 4 year old “WHERE BABIES COME FROM.” Having had a c-section with her, and planning a c-section with this one – I had an easy escape route for the conversation about how baby comes out (so that scar is good for something). Somehow, however, I have managed to escape this talk for now as she seems to simply accept that Mamas have babies.
Lately though, other questions have been popping up – leading to topics and discussions I just wasn’t planning to have so soon. My daughter, let me try and say this objectively, is very bright – and listens carefully to the conversations around her (more carefully than her father and I realize sometimes). The first issue I had hoped not to broach for some time to come is death. For some time, Aishtyn has been aware that people can be missing from our lives – my grandmother passed away when Aishtyn was a year old. Obviously she doesn’t remember her death – but she does see pictures of my grandmother holding her – and wants to know “where Great Granny went?” Lately, Aishtyn’s questions have become more in-depth – she wants to know more. Thankfully, it was not the death of a family member that sparked this deeper interest. My father-in-law had a dog who died recently, and as we were heading over for a visit, Aishtyn was looking forward to seeing the dog. Well, I had to explain that Patch was “gone” – I tried to use a…more delicate term, but she looked at me and asked, “Is he dead?” Well, “yes” I had to reply. This wasn’t too devastating for her – we went to my FIL’s house only 2 or 3 times a year, so it was a loss she really couldn’t feel too intensely. Her mental wheels had been set in motion though, because she began to ask about my dog, Thisbe – who – if you’ve read some of my earlier posts, doesn’t live with us, but with my parents. Aishtyn still manages to see Thisbe often, and adores that little fluffball. She wanted to know if Thisbe was going to die, I had to explain that, yes, one day Thisbe will die. Fear creeping into her voice, she asked if I would die…again, I had to say that yes – one day I, as all living things one day do, will die. This news started to get her really upset, and my husband and I both tried to explain that while sad, death is a part of life (I believe I tossed a Lion King circle of life reference out there) and it does no good to worry and get upset about something we can’t predict or prevent. The important thing, I said, is to enjoy the time we have now – to love each other and be thankful for each day we get to be together, and to make sure that we have lots and lots of memories for the time when we won’t be able to make anymore. By the time the conversation was over she seemed to accept the concept, and I realized that in teaching her – I had reminded myself of a very important lesson we seem to easily forget in the day to day routine.
The other topic (brought up in the same car ride as the first one!) is a little easier to handle – but a parenting hurdle, nonetheless. Aishtyn asked us if the Easter Bunny was real. Oh boy…this could be quite the slippery slope – and if the Easter Bunny isn’t real…than what about the Tooth Fairy? Or Santa?!? So I decided to give an answer that had enough truth in it to avoid an outright lie, and enough fiction in it to keep the childhood icon alive. I explained that all the Easter Bunnies she saw at the mall and at Easter egg hunts were pretend (losers in costume, was I believe, my husband’s contribution to the conversation). I also explained how Dad and I hide some of the eggs she hunts for, just like we leave some of the presents under the Christmas tree for her – because the Easter Bunny, like Santa, doesn’t have time to leave a ton of eggs/presents for each child. “The Easter Bunny,” I said, “is a mystery – I’ve never actually seen him, so I don’t know what he looks like, but I like the baskets he leaves on Easter!”
I believe she still believes. The ironic thing is – I think it’s more important to me that she continues to believe than it is to her…I selfishly want to hold on to that part of her childhood for as long as possible.
Though sneaking down to her college dorm to hide Easter eggs might be going too far.