Children feel things just as we do.
My little Miss 5 is passionate about the welfare of animals. (Although you wouldn't think so, when you saw her lugging one of our pussy cats around). She still misses our dog "Sam" who we had to leave in ChCh with friends on shifting to Auckland 18 months ago. Any news of injustice to animals brings instant tears to her eyes.
My Miss 5 has also learnt to read extremely well this first year at school. She will be 6 in December. She can read so well that while I'm reading the paper she often searches the headlines over my shoulder.
This week a headline caught her eye and heart. "Horse shot dead in paddock".
On reading this statement, and then trying her best through a few unfamiliar words to understand the gist of the article, she demanded that I cut it out for her to share at her class morning news.
End of story...............so I thought.
Arriving home in the car from school the girls and I occasionally have a few words, sitting in the carport, about their day etc. On this day Miss 5 released her seatbelt and sat on my lap in the drivers seat.
She looked up at me, watery eyed, and said "Mum I don't want you to die".
(Cue now the sound of my mummy heart very slowly breaking in two)
Gut wrenching moment. I don't lie to my kids.
Our conversation followed loosely like this:
"Everyone dies at some point Molly"
"Like when you are really, really old?" replies Molly.
"Yes! Exactly, we all hope we will live a very long time. But you know that accidents and illnesses do happen and some people die earlier than others."
"Like the horse," Molly says.
"Yes. Somebody shot that horse, and that is horrible. But we have no control over other people's actions like that. I think the best thing is is look after yourself and be happy. Be happy that we are all together right now, we are all here now and having fun. Just have fun Molly."
"But when you die as an old lady.........I will be sad" demands Molly.
"Of course you will be!!!!! (tickling to lighten the mood a little). But I will have had a long and happy life with you, so it will be ok. It's ok to be sad sometimes." I reply (squirming inside, am I saying the right stuff here???).
"OK" responds Molly very quietly.
"Just have fun Molly.......everyday....... all together." Followed by BIG HUG and a temporarily satisfied daughter.
Parenting is an odd vocation. You're never quite sure if you're getting it right. But you can be absolutely sure it will be full of surprising moments.