Kids extrapolate things based on their own frame of references. Mine does it quite a bit and even more so with words of a different language.
He loves music and at different times we have played hosts to quite a few different earworms of his. One of his old favorites reemerged due to a shuffle in his playlists and we were both humming along with it when he started off with that singsong tone he singsongs more whenever he has a question to ask me, “So A…is the Bulleya song about…?” And I reacted with a mother’s instinct and one honed from dealing with these particular gems- “No baby, it’s not about bulls. It’s about a poet and thinker(because early morning rushes are rushed enough without stopping to explain what a philosopher is) whose words have been put to song and who people sing about.”
And sure enough, came the expected rebuttal which led to this bit of head scratching fun-” But it says Bulleya…BULL-eya. Are you sure it isn’t about bulls?” ” Am positive! Baba Bulleh Shah didn’t have anything to do with bulls.” “Baba??” That’s what you call P (his nickname for my dad). Why is he called Baba?” “GO TO SCHOOL. BYE BYE. HAVE A GOOD DAY. LOOK IT UP ON WIKIPEDIA.”
Mom over and out. Oh how I miss Red when he’s out of town.
One of our first pets is dead. We bought MLM his first goldfish pair exactly two weeks ago. He wasn’t excessively fond of them; am glad about that since I had visions of his using the net or even his hands to want to talk to them or caress them. In fact even when he wanted his toys to become a part of the goldfish bowl world he told me about it first and I washed the toys carefully and introduced them to their new watery home.
I woke up this morning and went to check on them like I do every day and one of them seemed very sluggish to my sleepy eyes. But he/she wasn’t belly up yet. I thought maybe a change of water would inject some freshness in their lives; literally. But the fish died even before I could transfer it into cleaner waters and eventually hitched a ride on the porcelain express.
But a larger questions looms up now. What do I tell the kid? He will eventually notice after his attention shifts from the Dragons of Berk and the Ultimate Spiderman that either Nemo or Memo (yes, he named them that) is not there anymore.
The last two times when Death came up in everyday conversation I’d waited for him to take the lead and give me some insight into what he’d understood by it. And I just followed suit.
When Littlefoot’s mother died after her fight with the T-Rex, MLM said she was tired and was sleeping and he thought the earthquake that happened separated them for good. Not being able to understand the actual scenario. The rest of the movie kept him so engrossed he didn’t ask about her ever again. Problem solved.
When my husband’s grandmother passed away he sensed something out of the ordinary was up. He was just 4 and 1/2 years old at the time and was eerily still at seeing her dead body when they brought her home and also when we went to pay our last respects. He got a bit agitated when the funeral van took her away for the cremation because unknown people were taking away someone he knew and he didn’t know where they were taking her. But in the months after whenever we’ve visited the house she lived in, he’s always gone into her room but accepted that she’s not going to be there because he doesn’t ask about her anymore.
He’ll be 5 soon. As far as I know he’s still too young to comprehend the concept. Hell, I don’t get it beyond the actual technical parts of it viz heart stopping et al. But of late all his questions have been heavily laced with the ‘whys’ and am not sure what I should tell him once he notices the fish isn’t there?
Am stuck between saying it’s sick (which is true or rather was true) and it’s gone to the doctor and replacing it with a new goldfish or just telling him that it’s gone away without being morbid.
Whatever comes to my mind whenever the question comes up, here’s a look at Nemo and Memo in happier and alive days.
The toughest thing I find at times is to explain to MLM what something actually is. Since he lacks the experience and often the vocabulary, it’s a bit challenging to think of ways to get him to understand it in a manner that satisfies him or makes sense to him. Some children accept a lot of things their parents tell them but MLM actually mulls things over quite a bit.
Little things like why he can’t be swimming in an unheated pool in the height of winter, how it’ll most likely cause a cold; why his father and I are using chasing him around the house to clean his nose when it’s runny and most importantly why t.v or other visual digital media is curtailed after a point. Usually there’s a villain in the story viz moi but by and large there are questions coming up which I have to gloss over or fall back on euphemisms for him to stop his line of questioning.
Just today he suddenly asked why Littlefoot’s mother was sleeping and not getting up after the fight with the T-Rex. Till now he’s never watched anything where death has even been remotely implied and since he’s only 4, I haven’t even thought about how to explain those kinds of heavy concepts to him yet. Whatever cartoons he’s watched where the bad guy’s been defeated, he’s understood it as them having “gone away”. Whether that’s a permanent condition or not has not been touched upon. Come to think of it, I don’t know if such small children know and understand the concept of permanence either. Their little minds are usually so crammed with things in their immediate surroundings, their likes and dislikes.
So when he raised the query about Littlefoot’s mother I asked him why do you think she’s not getting up and he promptly replied, ” T-Rex did ouchie! Dinosaur got ouchie there and fall down. Now dinosaur sleep.” Phew! That’s a good place to start. I wouldn’t know what to do when the “die” issue comes up.
With children what they see is what you get and I guess that’s why he can’t understand how it is when I occasionally put my contact lens on…he keeps trying to get me to put my glasses on…thinking I’m unable to see 🙂
When he was a baby, he’d go and check under the beds, behind the toilets, everywhere possible when he wasn’t able to locate his grandparents after they’d left. He just couldn’t understand how something was *not* there or was different or in an unrecognizable form.
All a part of growing up I guess…I just hope I survive the phase of “whys”.