It’s all connected…26 February , 2014
Kids, sometimes they really amaze you!
Let me share two (seemingly unconnected) conversations with you.
Nicola received a R10 note from my mom and she showed it to me, telling me all the wonderful things she was going to buy with it. I thought it might be a good teaching moment, so I showed her some of the safety features on the note, like the magnetic strip, the watermark and the serial number.
She was fascinated by the watermark, and she asked me who that was. I said it was Nelson Mandela, who used to be our president. She asked me if he lives in the desert. Nope…he doesn’t and as far as I know, he never did (pretty random question). I explained that he was very old, and he got very sick…and he died. We have a new president now and his name is Jacob Zuma. Nicola said he sounded kind of cool. I said he wasn’t, he only had an interesting name. I may have mentioned that he actually steals the people’s money (yip, I definitely did that – in case you were wondering, I also tell my daughter not to trust the police, for more or less the same reasons). Nicola wanted to know why we didn’t just send Mandela to the hospital and get him some medicine, but I explained that sometimes people just get too old or too sick, and even the doctors can’t do anything to save them.
Well, that was the end of that discussion – or so I thought. A day or so later Nicola was showing my mom the watermark and telling her all about our dead president. Then she says, “Ouma, ons het nou ‘n nuwe president. Zuma. Maar hy is ‘n skollie, en hy steel al die mense se geld!” (Ouma, we have a new president now. Zuma. But he’s a bad guy and he steals all the people’s money!) Obviously my parents packed up laughing. Then Nicola said to them, “But he’s not getting this money…” clutching her R10 for dear life!
Next conversation: This happened on Tuesday. I can’t remember the exact context, but Nicola asked me how old I was – so I said I am 35. This was fascinating to her to think that she is only 4 and I am 35, obviously a lot older.
At bedtime, when I tucked her in and gave her a kiss goodnight, she says to me, “Mommy…I am really going to miss you when you die.” Wow, okay – that’s me speechless. This was because she realised how much older I am than her and she remembered the Nelson Mandela conversation from a few weeks back. Then she wanted me to promise that I wouldn’t die while she was sleeping that night…you know, because I’m so old, haha! I know you can’t really guarantee that kind of thing, but I went ahead and promised anyway. It’s not an easy conversation to have, that’s for sure. I’m not even sure I want to think about it myself.
My poor baby. These are really BIG things to wrap your head around. I don’t want it to be more of an issue or a dread than it has to be for her. Sometimes when I think about what I would do if/when someone close to me passes away, I get a real lump in my throat (or sometimes I even have a little cry, and keep in mind that they haven’t actually gone anywhere – this is probably going to ruin my reputation as a hard ass). I actually don’t know if I’m equipped to prepare her for dealing with that kind of loss. I don’t actually think you can equip for it, before it happens – and maybe you shouldn’t anyway?
Do you talk to your children about death?
Ps! On a totally unrelated topic: We had a rubbish night last night sleep-wise. Nicola dreamt she was being attacked by butterflies, and I dreamt that my car’s wheel had been stolen and I was being chased by bees while trying to sort it out. Both of us had winged things after us, what are the odds? Hahaha! Anyway, I’ve been up since 1:00 and I’m beyond tired. I bet Nicola has managed to have a nap at school somewhere, she’s been up since about the same time!