Skip to main content

Partying with the Dinosaurs

dinosaur dancing photo: dancing dinosaur DancingDino-sm.jpg
The first time I had to explain death to my kids was a couple years ago when my uncle died. Two weeks prior, I flew to Jacksonville to visit him and say "goodbye". He had cancer and his days were numbered. I got to spend time with him and had a great visit. Two weeks later,  I had to return to Jacksonville for his funeral. All the children knew I was leaving, but #2 was the only one who inquired why. "Uncle Bernie died", I told him. He looked puzzled and said, "You mean he's extinct? Just like the dinosaurs? And after the next ice age, he'll come back with the dinosaurs?" Well, that is a really great way to look at things, right? "Yea, he'll come back after the next ice age." I assured him.

A year later, our cat, Mimi, that we got right after our Honeymoon, died. She was 17. The girls were three, so they understood that Mimi had died, which in their minds meant Mimi wasn't there anymore. In Mimi's final days, we told the kids to say "goodbye", because we knew it was just a matter of time. And when she died, #2 said, "she's going to come back with Uncle Bernie and the Dinosaurs." But, he was a little mad at us because we had buried her before he could see her.  #1 was a little more melodramatic, "you mean she's gone forever?" I tried to reassure him, "Well, yes. But, she'll come back after the next ice age".  That didn't work on him. He got agitated and cried, "she's gone forever. AHHHHHH" and off he went.

Over the next year, whenever the twins were asked if they had pets, they'd explain, "we had three cats, but Mimi died and now we have two." Wow, they got that.

And this week, we said "goodbye" to another cat. Ellie the cat was 15 years old. She had a massive tumor in her sinus and the vet explained that at some point, it would grow large enough to suffocate her. She was only five then. She managed to live an entire decade out of one sinus. I noticed her breathing was getting labored the day before and sat with her because her time was coming. The next day, #3 went to check on the cats. He returned and told us that she wasn't moving. She was deaf and would only move when touched.  He told us that he touched her and she didn't move. I went to check with him and told him that she died. He asked me, "mom, what is dead?" I told him, "Dead means you get buried in the ground. There is no fun dead. There are no cookies in dead. There are no movies or TV in dead. You stay in the hole in the ground."  He was sad, but in five minutes he was fine again.

We told #2 and the twins that Ellie had died and brought them downstairs to say "goodbye".The twins at first said,"let's save her," but then I told them, "you can't, dead is dead." They said their goodbyes and moved on with the day. I asked #2 if he was glad that I let him see her, and he responded, "Thanks, Mama, I needed to see that. Now is she going to come back with Uncle Bernie, Grandpa Mike, Mimi and the Dinosaurs after the next ice age?" Yes buddy, but by then, we'll all be coming back together.

With kids, life and death are black and white. One day you're there and one day you're not. In their minds, things go on and they are sorry you're not a part of it. It's not until we get a bit older that we're tuned into the ramifications of death; The "I won't get to see them anymore" or, "who will I play with when I wake up?" That happens much later.

 I remember talking to them about life cycles, after we saw a dying fox on the side of the road that was hit by a car.  "All things live and all things die. Each species has an average life span, but each individual is different. Some grow to live long lives and some die younger. The length of time something lives is called a life cycle. When something gets to live it's entire life cycle, then they are lucky."

Brain-pop has a video about death. #2 watched it and then asked me questions. He pointed to the tombstone on the screen with "R.I.P" written on it and asked, "Mom, are you going to put a tombstone on Mimi and Ellie's grave?" I replied that a plant was good enough for animals. A whole bunch of compost for that plant. It's a win-win. I then asked him if he knew what R.I.P meant. "Death" he replied with absolute certainty. Well, yes. It does mean death occurred here. I told him It meant, Rest in Peace. "Oh. Rest in peace. I got it. Until the next ice age."

That's right. Until the next ice age. It'll be a big party with the dinosaurs.


Popular posts from this blog

Diary of a music mom

Since fifth grade, both #1 and #2 have been playing instruments; #1, the saxophone and #2, the trombone. #1, Autism classic, plays the very same saxophone that I started on in fifth grade. I  teach him daily and we go once a week to our new sax teacher and they work on jazz. #2, the aspy is a lot more autonomous and he doesn't require my attention when he practices and gets by with his weekly skype lessons from grandpa and his private teacher.

Every year, our school district hosts a solo and ensemble festival. The kids have roughly eight weeks to choose a listed piece and then perform it with an accompaniment. Every year, I make the boys participate even though it means I need to spend more time with #1 to make sure he doesn't sound like a moose in the wild and more like a saxophone player.

It always turns out like this:
I choose the new piece and we trudge through it slowly and painfully.
I second guess my choice because I think it's too much, too hard, too intricate for …

My Heart Will Go On

At the end of the school year, the teachers usually host an event to give thanks to the many parents who helped out during the school year. When I went to #1's school, they had an elaborate spread and the highlight was when the sign language club performed a few songs.  #2 & #3's school, had their volunteer appreciation breakfast last week, and I was happy that I was able to bring the twins with me.

Everything was great. There was food, coffee, juice and some awesome moms. But, then the music teacher brought in the fourth grade class and they were all holding their recorders. Great. One kid practicing the recorder at home is painful enough.  Forty kids playing recorder in a quasi-controlled group is just one way the music teacher can express her feelings about not getting any holiday presents or special accolades during teacher appreciation week. F-U people, I teach your talentless kids and it is a thankless and painful job.  I'm going to let you know how much I apprec…

World Autism Awareness Month: A Time To Focus On Our Similarities.

Tomorrow, April 2, is World Autism Awareness day. I thought about all the things I could say about awareness and then I realized that the people who read this blog know all this stuff. With the latest release from the CDC about the number of children diagnosed with Autism now at 1:68, there will be a day that everyone will know or be related to someone with Autism. And unfortunately,  It is only when something affects everyone is when things will change.

I decided to re-share excerpts from my post: We're More alike than you think. The post was inspired by Willman Stillman and my self-observations. Everyday I look at my children and realize I have more Autistic qualities that I realized. I have also realized that it not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe melting and throwing myself on the ground if I can't find my keys may be over-doing it a bit, but many things are really a core part of me; like my ability to memorize information. It comes in handy on Black Friday for sure.