Monday, December 3, 2012

On my daughter having a problem with death

I've been enjoying this blog's Facebook page as an alternative venue for sharing moments with my daughter on a more casual basis -- it really hits the spot when I just have a moment that I want to record and spread real quick-like. It's a great way to link up with friends and family and other readers who still aren't quite sure what this whole blogging thing is all about.

I have found, though, that some of the conversations I've been recording there are actually kind of special to me, and I want to get some of them back over here, since I think of this blog as a sort of keepsake to pass on to my daughter someday when she's old enough to care.

So, I've decided that every Monday I'll start sharing some of my favorite conversations/thoughts of the week from the Facebook page, with some additional analysis or a comic or whatnot. Here's this conversation from the past week, a follow-up to this post about death:

Last night as I was putting Addison to bed we had another conversation about death. 
Her: Daddy, tell me about dead. 
Me: Remember what mama told you? Dead is when your spirit leaves your body. 
Her: Oh. Tell me about that. 
Me: Well, sometimes people die. 
Her: Why? 
Me: Well, like getting squashed by cars when they aren't careful crossing streets. Or when meteors fall on them. 
Her: Oh. Makes people cry? 
Me: Sometimes it makes people sad. But it just means you hold each other a little closer when someone you love dies. 
Her (hugging me matter-of-factly): Like this? 
Me: (a little choked up): Yep. 
Her: Am I going to die? 
Me: Not anytime soon, I think. I want to keep you around for a while. But you've gotta hold my hand when we cross the street. And stop trying to climb the bookcases. 
Her: Okay. Let's talk about something else. 
Me: What? 
Her: Flounder and Ariel. 
Me: What about them? 
Her: A shark chases them and gets stuck, and Flounder sticks out his tongue like this, and goes PTHHHH" *Raspberry attempt* "and says, 'You big bully!' " 
*Addison laughs uproariously* 
Me: Okay. I love you. 
Her: I love you too. 
Me: Goodnight. 
Her: Goodnight.
A few days after the above conversation, we were in the car driving back from visiting family in beautiful Bakersfield, CA, and Addison put it this way to her grandmother:
Addison: I have a problem for you, Grammy. 
Grammy: What's the problem? 
Addison: What does dead mean?
It's interesting that (1) she's seriously and matter-of-factly interested in death; (2) she recognizes that it's a problem; and (3) she keeps presenting this problem to different adults in her life to see how we each respond. It's like she's trying to catch one of us in a lie. Or maybe it's that she's intuitively collecting different perspectives so that she can sift through them all and make a more balanced judgment on the subject. Yeah, that sounds pretty good. Kid's a philosopher.

As for her wording, earlier in the night she'd been whining about something while playing with a kid's version of a carpentry shop. Grammy had turned to her and said, "What's your problem, Addison?"

Apparently our two-year-old had spent the day pondering that question, really trying to figure out what her problem was, and finally made her decision. Death. Death is the problem.

The way she's internalizing these concepts both touches me and unnerves me. Am I the only one who thinks of Wednesday Adams with how fixated she seems to be on the subject? I'm worried that one of these days I'll find the kid in the garage with jumper cables and the neighbor's cat, trying to solve this problem of hers.