What do kids want? Part II Dead stuff.

Ok I do not suggest going out tonight and scrapping up a bunch of road kill to proudly present your child first thing in the morning. If you did our over sensitive, over protected future generations may be horrified and almost certainly traumatized for life.

But I am thinking along the lines of feeding their curiosity. And death is always a huge issue with parents.

How do I explain to my kids about death?

Why not let them explore it.

Since writing my previous post I continued to think about the things I found fascinating when I was young and for some reason dead stuff kept popping up. Not in a morbid way but don’t you remember finding some sort of dead creature as a kid and thinking ‘ew, that’s gross’ and yet whilst inching closer ‘and…….kinda cool.’ Then dashing off to find an appropriate object to do some serious poking?

Come on, I cannot be the only one!

I know I’m not because my kids still get that disgusted amazement when coming across a dead mouse, frog or squished toad on the road, while getting as close as possible to gawk at it they are saying ‘yuck that’s disgusting’ but they REALLY want to check it out. And I know if I didn’t have that adult reaction ‘Get away from that diseased thing!’ They’d be poking at it.

My parents were not the kind of parent that society wishes us to be nowadays, they were less ‘hands on’ and more the ‘get out of my hair’ kind. I had about a 10 kilometre radius of roaming space beyond the property I grew up on. I don’t actually think I had permission for this but I did it. I remember sitting in the middle of the road once for at least 20 minutes trying to pry fangs out of a dead fox’s mouth. Right now remembering it, I think of the ‘germs’ and ‘diseases’ I exposed myself to, not to mention my lack of road safety skills. ( maybe that’s why I’m a road safety hawk with my kids) But at the time I am pretty sure I was like ‘Oh my god, the kids at school are going to think this is so great!’

I didn’t end up getting it, sadly.  And I didn’t think taking the entire thing back home for dad to have a crack at with the pliers was a good idea, even though I thought it through quite a bit.

Another incident which I still remember well was going for a walk down to our ‘back paddock’ the most distant spot from our house. On the ground was a beautiful wedge tail eagle. At first I actually thought it was sleeping. It was too perfect and magnificent to be dead. Its wings spread its head to the side, glossy feathers. I sat with it for a long time. Still to this day I can not think of what had caused its death. It did just look peaceful and lovely. Only still and lifeless. It was the closest I was ever going to get to an animal like that.

But growing up the way I did I was exposed to all sorts of dead things. We had meat chickens for example. My sister and I would go hunt one down bring it to dad who was standing by with his axe at the ‘chopping block’ we’d stand and watch as he lay it down and chopped it’s beady eyed head off. He would then let it go and it would freakishly flap around headless for a while, it was gruesome excitement. We also had a couple of pet pigs ‘razor’ and ‘princess’ who suddenly ‘ran away from home’ around about the same time we began eating a heck of a lot of pork.

The day death and its relation to people hit me was when I was young I don’t know how old. We had a lot of cattle too, and just like us humans they can’t always recover from an illness. I watched my dad shoot one one day. 3 times, once to kill it, twice to make sure and third for luck.

I love cattle. Such big, beautiful, placid and intelligent animals. Being a young kid standing over a dead cow in an empty silent paddock on a gloomy day is a very solemn moment.

A quiet understanding fell over my shoulders that day.

I remember Bella’s first experience with death. Hercules, the goldfish at her pre-school died. I was not there to witness it but she was devastated, so instead of the quiet flushing they had planned they ended up having a proper funeral, Bella got to carry the ‘coffin’ shoe box and led the procession out to the garden where they all said prayers and made paddle pop crosses.

Her next experience was her pet bunny Stella. I found her dead in her cage one morning and panicked. I had to tell her. So I told Bella she had died. She cried like I’d never seen before. Devastated. Again. To make it worse exactly one week later her other rabbit died. Oh and yes, it happened all over again.

I don’t ever remember being that sensitive.

I understood the reality of death, the fact that everything breathing will eventually stop. That is and always will be nature.

I did cry when my grandmother passed away a few years back, but those were selfish tears. I was going to miss her. But I was happy she was gone, after watching her suffer so horribly and slowly fade away, from fighting cancer for years it was a happy time. It was what she’d wanted. And unlike the humane ways we ‘help’ cattle and animals move on There was nothing we could do for her except sit by and tell her things would be ok, which obviously all parties concerned knew wasn’t the case. It makes me wonder some times are we really humane at all? We can not give the same treatment to the ones we love most.

Anyway I have detoured from my topic again…nothing new.

My plan is to stem my ‘freak out’ reaction at the site of something dead. I still don’t think I’ll let me kids handle anything dead but I will let them be curious and ask questions and you know what? I may even let them poke it a little.

Because kids are fascinated by it.

I don’t like kids killing things. That freaks me out.

I’ve seen children who think it is wonderful fun to pluck the legs off beetles one by one. I know we can’t hear the poor beetle screaming out in agony, but I can imagine it. So I draw the line at killing things. Violet one morning after walking Bella to school got into lots of trouble. I had found one of those big black beetles and stopped to point it out to the girls. Sophie, Molly and Violet checked it out for a while then Violet for some reason simply stepped on it while I was saying how cool it was.

Crunch.

The look of shock on my face as my jaw dropped made Glen ‘try’ to withhold a giggle.

Why did you do that? The poor little thing may have had a family!

I got over it after putting it into perspective. I mean I kill flies and mozzies. I’m not exactly innocent of killing things. Every living breathing thing has a right to live a full life.

Unless we need to eat it.

She may have wanted to eat that bug I guess….

So I don’t suggest giving your child things to kill. And I don’t suggest allowing them to collect dead creatures, well I guess beetles and bugs and butterflies make cool collections. But anyway, unless you’re a serious hunter of the safari kind as an adult you’ll have a good sense of the good kind of dead and the bad.

So really what I am saying (after a VERY long-winded post) is kids don’t necessarily ‘want’ dead things. But they’d like the freedom to be curious about odd and natural things. (minus the freaking out parent.)

Make sense?

No, well do I ever is my question to you.

Good day.

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