I personally never had to deal with new life or death growing up as a child. My Nanny died before I was 2 and then my Nunnu died a few short months after Nick and I were married. In between those years there were not any births that I can remember (minus my sisters and cousins who are all close in age to me) and I rarely ever went to a funeral. My mom always loved to protect us from the stress of life and always tried to have a positive outlook on life. As much as I appreciate her trying to protect us I also wish I knew more about how life begins and what happens when someone dies. Many times I would lay in bed as a child wondering about death and would often scare myself of with final it was.
So when Calvin began asking me questions about where babies come from and what heaven is like I knew I wanted to take a different approach. The funny thing about motherhood with your firstborn is that most of the time we are winging it. I had not rehearsed or planned to have these conversations with my 4 year old son, but alas, here I was having some adult-like convos with my tiny son.
Calvin knows his great-grandmother Hanne died and went to heaven. He asks me how she got there, who she is with, if she is happy, who else is with her, and when will she come back. He is fascinated about all things relating to Grandma Hanne and with heaven. I try to explain to him that because her hope was in Christ that when she died she went to be with Jesus in heaven and that she is no longer sick and is happy living eternally with God. I try to explain that there are other people with her, like my Nunnu and others. He likes to pray for her and I tell him that he is so sweet but that once you are in heaven every need is met because she is with Christ.
Usually thats about when he tells me that he wants Jesus to come get him and bring him to be with her, to which I respond "One day you will be, but for now, you are healthy and well and living here on earth with Momma." I am not sure if I am answering him 100% correctly or in the way my biblically trained husband would but often the mystery of life and death causes me to stop and think. I want him to understand these complex things but in a simplistic form.
I remember seeing a dead cat on the road and Calvin was concerned. I figured it was a good time to teach him two lessons. I told him 1. The cat probably died because it crossed the road without its mommy, which wasn't safe and 2. Once the cat dies it will not get better and ever come back again.
Calvin is also very curious about how this baby came into my tummy. He is only 4 so I try to use discretion when explaining to him where babies come from. If I could hold off on the sex talk with him for another 10 years I would be one VERY happy momma. So, for now, I tell him that God put the baby in my tummy. Nick told me he wouldn't have explained it to him in this way, but sadly this is the explanation that stuck with him. Apparently on a flight over the weekend, Calvin told his fellow passengers that "So before I was born Jesus put me in my mommy's tummy," to which Nick says, "Apparently, Gina is the blessed virgin Mary." I guess that's why we shouldn't tell him an overly simplistic answer when it comes to birth. He also asked me if moms poop when they push their babies out and I was honest and told him yes. As normal Calvin took it upon himself to tell a bunch of people on the airplane about this fact. Nick told me that he said, "So when I was a baby in mommy's tummy she pushed me and then pooped me out!" Everyone nearby laughed at him in amusement and as the story goes he kept going on and on about babies and poop. That is life with a boy!
I may not tell him all the right things and I am sure I will regret how I explain some topics to him. The important thing to me though is that I want my kids to always feel comfortable enough to come to me about tough things in life. I pray that these small conversations with big meaning are just the start of a trusting and two-way road of communication to continue years to come.
Please share any advice, tips, or stories you have on how to talk about life, death, and life events with your kids.