Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Dead Animals

There are plenty of terrible lessons about the world Elijah and Luca will have to learn. Girls will break their hearts. Eggs will cause them intestinal distress. Great looking pants will be itchy.

But I’m of the opinion that part of my job as a dad is to act as a World Shield. I want to protect them from the realities of life for as long as I can. At least a couple months.

So imagine my disappointment when I had to talk about death with Eli last weekend.

We were walking around the block with Grover when we stumbled across a dead squirrel on the sidewalk. Elijah immediately wanted to know why the squirrel wasn’t moving. Grover immediately wanted to know why he couldn’t eat the squirrel.

I decided to sidestep the whole death thing. “He’s just, um, sleeping. Very soundly. With flies all over him. Hey look! Grover is pooping!”

We made it back to the house with no more talk about the sleeping squirrel and decided to play in the back yard. But God decided he wasn’t going to let me off the hook. Floating in Eli’s kiddie pool, we found a dead bird. I decided to let him in on the whole death thing.

“Look, Eli. This bird is dead. He must have gotten sick and he fell out of our tree.”

“What’s dead?”

“It means he isn’t alive. He won’t fly or eat or sing anymore. He’s dead.”


I decided to give Eli some religion, “He went to heaven. Heaven is a great place where the bird will get to eat whatever he wants and get to fly wherever he wants without cats getting him.”


Diana suggested we bury the bird. I found a spot in the yard under a stump and Eli helped me dig a hole. Elijah got semi distracted by the amount of worms in the hole. I wasn’t about to get into the science of death, so I decided to stay theologian.

“We’re going to put the bird in the ground and then we’ll say a prayer. That will make him get up to see God easier.”

Eli had no idea what I was talking about, but he let it go. After depositing the bird in his final resting place, I said a prayer aloud. I won’t give you the details of my terrible eulogy. I realized halfway through I was teetering into mocking the whole ceremony of death, so I quickly covered the bird with dirt and the log.

The rest of the day was spent explaining to Eli why the bird wouldn’t grow out of the ground like mommy’s plants.

p.s. The Skokie Exploratorium is open again after a long remodeling. Thankfully, they didn’t add any dead birds.

1 comment:

belle said...

I loved how you wrote this. Explaining such things to children must be super hard. I have no idea. I just know kids are always interested in things which either make you uncomfortable or you dont know how to deliver it.

Luck ur way.:)