Anyway, Melaina saw this sad little creature as we passed by and she asked, "Mommy what's that?"
"A squirrel", I said.
"What kind of squirrel", she asked
"A dead squirrel, sweetie", I answered. Smooth, mom. Real smooth.
"What happened to him" She asked with concern in her voice.
"A car ran him over, I suppose" again, let's not beat around the bush here.
She was quiet for a minute and said her favorite question lately, "what?"
This is what she does if she has trouble processing information. She just keeps asking "What?", hoping I guess that an answer will come to her that makes sense, (my husband does the same exact thing) but she just couldn't quite understand what was wrong with that squirrel. Finally she decided. "He's broken?"
"Yes, sweetie, he's broken". There, done and done I thought.
A couple of days went by and as we were all sitting at the kitchen table, M looks out the window and says, "look at that squirrel!"
I look out at the squirrel sitting on the rail of the deck and then Melaina says, "that squirrel is fixed."
I looked puzzled not sure that I had heard her correctly when my husband reminded me that the other squirrel aka the dead squirrel was broken and therefore, this one is fixed meaning, well, not dead.
"Oh, yes, he is fixed" and I thought that was the end of it, but then...
"Mommy, where is that other squirrel? A trash can?"
Now here is one of those defining moments in parenthood and no matter how well you thought you would handle that first conversation about death with honesty and PC vaugeness, you find words coming out of your mouth that just don't sound right. I remember when my first dog, Scruffy got ran over by a car and my father and my Granny and Poppy told me that they had taken him to a farm. That's right folks, that cliche "farm" that dogs go to where they can run around and be happy with other animals. All I kept thinking was, why in the world would they take him to a farm when he was just fine where he was (at my Granny's house because my mom cannot stand furry creatures, but that's another whole story in and unto itself). The truth is that if they had just told me he had died, I would have been sad, cried for a day or two and gotten over it. Beyond that, I would have begun to understand that there is a cycle to life and that neither animals nor people live forever. Now, these same people, mind you, had no trouble taking me to funerals of all sorts of family members, close or distantly related and walking me right up to the casket at the viewing as they touched the hand or face of the deceased - freaky. But Scruffy couldn't be mourned over and buried in the back yard, he had to go to a "farm". Again, more stories for a later time.
Back to the conversation at hand between myself and my three year old. She asks about the squirrel being in the trashcan and I just can't bring myself to tell her that that is where life ends, in a trash can. I can't let her think that life and death are so brutal and that once you're dead you are discarded like trash, so I did what any rational person would do. I told her the squirrel was in heaven. Well, that opened up a whole can of worms let me tell you. I won't go into the entire conversation but basically here are a few questions that were asked only to be answered awkwardly and incompletely...
"Other squirrels are there in heaven?"
"God got that squirrel?"
Needless to say, Melaina is none the wiser about matters of life or death, but at least we got that first conversation over with and I'll be ready next time. Maybe that farm idea isn't so bad after all.
PS. Now I have elton John's "Circle of Life" running through my head. Usually, I would post a link to a You Tube of the song for you all to enjoy, but I don't want you to blame me if it gets stuck in your head all day.