Please welcome Meryl for this week’s “I’m Not a Bad Mom” post. I can definitely relate to this one. If you’d like to contribute to this weekly Thursday series, please find more info here.
As is the case with many small animals, I’m not sure what the exact cause was, but he died immediately after I changed his water.
In a quick, whispered conversation with Sweet Husband, I furtively asked, “Do we try to tell the Kid? Or do we just get rid of the body and see if he notices?”
Sweet Husband instantly replied, “This is one of those times that I think we just need to get rid of it. I’ll take care of him after you guys leave for school.” Accordingly, Sweet Husband gave the fish a secret burial at sea, and we vowed to never mention his name again.
I should have known better. That never works.
Not every night, but probably every other night for the following month, the Kid would happily exclaim, “I want to feed my fish now!” pursuant to our former custom. And each time, we had to try to explain, again, that the fish was dead. But how do you explain death to a 2-year-old?
“The fish is gone,” is an unsatisfactory answer. Where did he go? Will he come back soon?
And I remember those early days of poring over parenting books well enough that I quickly put the kibosh on Sweet Husband’s “The fish is asleep.” “Do you want the Kid to be afraid to go to sleep for the next 5 years?” I direly warned him.
Of course, my response was just as bad. “Dada flushed the fish down the toilet, bub.” Oh the awkward questions that brought on!
The truth is, I don’t know what to tell him because I don’t know the answer myself.
Oh, I believe in something, to be sure, it’s just that it’s so complicated and slippery to capture with words.
I believe that the universe is basically a nice place. I believe that there’s some big, good thing that looks out for us all. I believe that our spirit lives on in ways we can’t even imagine once our body dies.
Those are all fine thoughts, but they’re incomprehensible to the concrete, literal mind of a small child.
So we stumble on with our awkward answers, and hope that someday the Kid will understand that, while even his parents don’t know everything, at least we’ve always tried to be as honest as we can.
Meryl Carver-Allmond writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at My Bit of Earth.