Conversations with a 3-year-old: Maybe Bambi wasn’t such a Good Idea

Most of the little talks I have with my son are funny and light-hearted. Not this one.

I’m putting away laundry in my bedroom when David walks in and hugs me around my legs really tight. He looks up at me and says, “Mommie, I don’t want you do die.”

That knocks me for a loop, so I drop what I’m doing and scoop him up into my arms. “Oh, honey you can’t worry about things like that.”

“But I don’t want you to die. You have to stay here forever.”

“You know what? That will be a long time from now. By then you’ll probably be married and have kids of your own and maybe even grand kids.”

All of a sudden he dissolves into tears. Between sobs he says, “Bu-bu-bu-but I don’t wa-wa-wa-want to get ma-ma-ma-married if you’re going to d-d-d-die!”

Grasping for the right thing to say, “That’s not what I meant. Listen, I’ll be around for as long as you need me, O.K? And you don’t have to worry because you will always have Jesus to take care of you no matter what. I’m here now, and I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

We watched Bambi II on the Disney Channel a few months ago, and David begged for a long time to see the original movie. I finally gave in and rented it from NetFlix hoping we could just gloss over what happened to Bambi’s mom. Should have known this smart kid would pick up on it.

We’ve encountered death a few times. A dead snake, a dead butterfly, things like that in our backyard out in the country. He even inadvertently saw our dog kill a baby bunny. The dog didn’t mean too. I think he was trying to play with it more than eat it. I quickly intervened, but I was too late and the deed was done. That was a little more National Geographic than I would have liked. For several days after that, David kept telling us that he was praying for the rabbit to go to heaven. Apparently he’s converted to Catholicism.

Each time we came across these dead animals I tried to explain to him, on a preschooler’s level, that nothing lives forever and it’s just all part of God’s plan. I figure it’s better for him to start to accept death as a fact of life now than be surprised by its reality sometime in the future. He seemed to understand about the animals. But it’s different when you begin to realize that your mom and dad, who are your whole world, may not be around forever.

Bambi is going back to NetFlix, and I plan to be around for a long, long time.

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4 Responses to “Conversations with a 3-year-old: Maybe Bambi wasn’t such a Good Idea”

  1. moneysaving mama Says:

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  2. acupofjoy Says:

    Hmmm…Bambi….it was Dumbo that made me cry. I would suggest not seeing that right away. Dumbo gets taken away from his mom. Still, I love Dumbo!

  3. Loved New Says:

    Yes, all of those old ones are like that… also Fox and the Hound and Pinocchio have sad undertones as well. Another one from todays era that is like that is Finding Nemo. I love love love the movie, but the beginning is such a tragedy!!!!

  4. Debbie Says:

    I think it’s GREAT to talk to young ones about death and dying in an age appropriate way, especially before it happens to someone close to them. Kids are MUCH smarter and more in tune to things than people realize and trying to hide death from them doesn’t work and makes them MORE traumatized later, IMHO.

    And I wouldn’t put away Bambi. Let him watch it if he wants to, and talk about how it makes him feel. I make sure to talk about how it’s ok to be sad because you don’t want to dismiss his feelings. But make sure he knows what would happen if you did die (Daddy or someone else would take care of him, you would watch him from heaven, etc…) Kids this age want to know that there is a plan and that they would be ok.

    Oh – and make sure you DO have a plan – like a will, legal guardians named, etc….

    We also talk about people in our family who have died (especially ancestors from generations back that they’ve never met – helps to know some genealogy here), so it give my kids a feeling of being connected to the past and a feeling that people really can stay alive in our memories and stories.

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