3/31/11

Day 121 - A Big Long Blog Post

I'm packing a whole lot of stuff into day 121.  Once again, 365 has taken over my blog, so I feel like I need to bring it back to its original Sweetness every once in a while.  Fasten your seatbelt, you are in for a long and bumpy ride today :)

Day 121 - Inside-Out Pajama Night

Cameron says that if you wear your pajamas inside-out and put a spoon under your pillow, there will be no school the next day.  So he heard from a friend today.  We are putting it to the test tonight.  Damien is trying to counteract our efforts, but we think we will prevail!


Tonight we had a special out to dinner treat at "Friendly's".  We had so much fun being silly and eating ice cream!  Olivia is putting on her "mad face" for the camera.  She's pretty good at that one!


So here is where the post gets "bumpy".

Yesterday was a tough day for Olivia after dance class.  While I was preparing lunch she was full of questions.  Some days there are so many questions (and yes I feel terrible about what I am going to admit to you) that I answer without really hearing the whole question.  Before you submit my name to "worst Mother of the year", hear me out!  This usually happens after the 100th question, while a baby is screaming, or I am cleaning up dog pee, or I am digging a spoon out of the garbage disposal.  This is usually when she asks the. most. important. question. of. the. day.  Of course, I do not realize this until it is too late.  I have already answered.  Damage is done.  I can only move on to damage control.

So, what was the most important question of the day today, you might be asking?  Here it is:

Olivia:  "Mommy, do polar bears die?" 

I know!  Doesn't seem like such a big deal, does it?  I didn't think so either, but here is my response  (mind you, I am fixing lunch, trying to quiet the barking dogs and warming up a bottle for the baby at this particular moment):

Me:  "Yes, polar bears die."

Again, I know, it sounds innocent and it is the truth, but it goes downhill from here.  I promise, I won't interrupt anymore.

Olivia:  "They do?  Do all animals die?"

Me:  "Yes, anything that is alive will eventually die."

Olivia:  "Why?"

Me:  "Well, it's the circle of life.  Plants and animals live and when they die they nourish the earth so that other things can live."

Olivia:  "Even people?"

OK, I'm going to interrupt again.  I realize that that last question was the most important one of the day.

Me:  "Yes, even people."

I know!  Terrible, right?  So matter-of-fact.  A reality check right in my soon-to-be four year old's innocent little face.  OK, you can submit my name, I'm a terrible mother!

What is worse than this response?  Well, the fact that I didn't even realize the impact until I joined her at the table a couple minutes later and she was staring up at me with what I can only describe as complete and total fear.  

Me:  "Are you OK?"

Olivia:  "Sit next to me, sit really close to me."

So, we are eating in silence for about a minute and then she puts her head down on the table.  She says she is full and she is tired and she doesn't feel well.  I'm thinking she has the virus that had me the past few days so I jump up and wash her hands and take her to the couch to snuggle.  I tell her it's OK, we can rest and cuddle and she will feel better soon.  I turn on PBS and we are snuggling really close.  I'm listening to her breathe and I feel her start to cry.  She says she is sick a few more times and I'm still thinking she is getting the flu.  Seriously, I felt like crying the past two days, so I was feeling her pain.  Finally, after about ten minutes of this she sits up and says:

"Mommy, I'm not sick.  I don't want to die.  That's why I'm crying.  I don't want to die.  I don't want you to die or Daddy or Cameron or Nana and Grampa or my friends or anyone to die ever."

Of course, then I started crying too.
I tried to console her and I started to talk about God and Heaven, but she did not want to hear it.  She was sick with worry.  I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice, "I want to always live here in this world, forever."  I was at a loss.  Talking about it made it worse, so I just held her and told her I would keep her safe.

I checked a book out of the library called "Lifetimes" about the life cycle of all things and how all living things have beginning and an ending, and in between is living.  Each lifetime is unique depending on what or who you are and what happens to you in your life.  It explained the lifetime of an oak tree, a vegetable garden, rabbits and mice, butterflies, birds, fish and people.

"Sometimes, living things become ill or they get hurt.  Mostly, of course, they get better again but there are times when they are so badly hurt or they are so ill that they die because they can no longer stay alive.  This can happen when they are young, or old, or anywhere in between."  She stopped me here and could not listen anymore.  She just does not want to hear about it. 

I think she wants me to tell her that she will live forever, but not forever in Heaven, forever here on Earth.  She wants me to tell her that everyone she loves (which is a lot of people) will live forever.  I also think that at her age, she does not understand the concept of time, so to her a long time could mean tomorrow.  Someone, please tell me where this fear is coming from in my almost four year old.  I am truly at a loss.

7 comments:

  1. Oh my! That is intense. My grandfather passed away in January, so my two have now had to deal with a death. My four-year-old thinks it is so cool that Pawpaw is with Jesus now. My mom got them the book "I'll love you forever" and it's pretty good. Poor Olivia, I hope she feels better soon, and I hope you find the words and strength to comfort her.

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  2. I read your post last night and got so emotional that I couldn't comment at that time. Now that I've had time to sleep and am fresh, I'm doing better. When I lost both my parents at the end of last year (29 days apart), my 6 year old was very sad and still gets emotional at random times. My 4 year old was mad at first and now is obsessed with dying, the whole process and what happens afterwards. He's even gone so far as to tell me he doesn't want to go in the ground, he wants to go into a box (creamation box) and he wants to be in the box with me. It gets really heavy at times and I hate that they even have to think about stuff like this at this carefree time in their lives. It comes in spurts thought, so hopefully Olivia will talk about it for a few days and then will go on with the important task at hand, living and having lots of fun.

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  3. MIa was exactly the same way at about that age. I think girls are more intuitive about the "big picture." You were right to not sugar coat it. The truth in a matter of fact way, backed up by reassurance is the best course of action. Sooner or later she'll encounter death (dog? lol) and it will be better that you explained that it will happen, she won't feel betrayed by a lie. Good job.

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  4. Well first of all you are NOT a terrible mother for telling her the truth. The concept of death is over her head and she just doesn't understand it. Somehow she thinks it's something scary and something terrible. I think once you get some more books and read online a little about how to answer her questions, it will help. SHe sounds like I did when I was little. I internalized everything and was always older than my age. I wish I could tell you what to tell her to make her feel better, but I'm at a loss...

    Love her 'mad' look, too bad for her it's actually quite precious. :)

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  5. What a heavy conversation for sure. I would agree with Ashley. Her fears are natural to me....everyone has a time in their life when they realize the same. I think you did an appropriate job of explaining.

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  6. I think the way you handled that situation was great! Even getting the book to help her reason it out. Unfortunately, I feel that there are just things like time, the life cycle, relationships, etc. that it takes a while for kids to completely grasp. I'm sorry it's so tough for her now. Hopefully, like Kristin said, she will move onto another topic in a week or so and be her adorable self!!

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  7. You did a great job of answering her questions honestly. I had a similar conversation with my daughter when she was about that age. It devastated her for a while, but she slowly coming to understand it as she gets older.

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