We’re all going to die. We’ve been born, we’ve eaten some fries, we’ve filled out municipal forms, and just like that, we’re also going to die, for sure. For many of you that’s no news; for children, it is. Sooner or later they get wind of that whole „dying“ thing, and then they come to you, their parents, asking: „Are we really all going to die? And you, mom and dad, are you going to die too?“ They’re young; they don’t know that asking their parents a meaningful question is almost guaranteed to leave them with a false notion about the important things in life.
So here we are, their parents, mere mortals, having to explain to our soft angelic offspring, barely over-topping a tall ice-cream cone, whether we’re to be, or not to be.
If you ask me: DEFINITELY NOT TO BE! However – not a consensus opinion.
My daughter’s first run-in with death was when her Gran’s dog died. For a full day, I wallowed in ignorance, and when the dad broke the tragic news to me, things had taken a wrong turn.
„…so we decided to tell her the dog left the country!“ he told me amid much fanfare, as if he’d just got his PhD in Child Psychology and Behavioral Science. Ever at the cutting edge, I frowned.
„So where the hell did it go? Trinidad and Tobago? Do cats emigrate, too? Why don’t we just buy a suitcase for ours, have it at the ready? Couldn’t you tell her that the dog IS DEAD, FOR CHRISSAKES!“
My angelic offspring’s father looked at me in horror, the way the Polish looked at the invading Nazis in ’39.
„What do you mean, tell her it’s dead?! If we did, she’d know it did and, and she’d get upset!“
„Death is the natural endpoint of life, and we shouldn’t lie to our child about it!!!“ I conclude in thundering Darwinian-Marxist fashion. So I went to pick her up from kindergarten and told her the dog wasn’t in Trinidad and Tobago, but to the eternal hunting grounds (по-стандартен английски идиом е „to the farm“). She shrugged and said „okay“.
So all went as planned. But my relief was short-lived. My daughter decided to get to the gist of this new piece of information. At midnight on the same day we were wrapping up a quiet matrimonial evening of reading in bed when she appeared at the bedroom door in her tiny pink nightgown, then sat at the edge of the bed and murmured, voice delicate as a reed, hazel eyes shining sadly: „Mom(my?), Dad(dy?), are you going to die,too?“, getting the following, at the same time:
„NO!!!“ (This, her shining knight of a father, all „oh-my-darling-little-girl-I’ll-slaughter-anyone-who-ever-says-anything-to-hurt-you-and-then-I’ll-buy-you-a-doll-and-a-cake-and-sing-you-to-sleep“)
„YES!!!“ (This, her hag of a mother, all „you’ll-see-one-day-how-terrible-life-is-and-the-women-are-all-slaves-to-patriarchy-read-books-and-go-to-Standford-but-wash-that-toothpaste-off-your-cheek“.)“Stop lying to the child,“ I shout. „Of course we’ll die!!!“
„Are we really going to do this, at 12 AM?“
„Yeah, you’re right, sorry. At midnight we’ll tell her we’re not going to die, and tomorrow at eight we’ll just shout „Surprise, guess what happened while you slept? Dying it is!““
„Oh great, now how’s she going to go back to sleep?“
„Enlightened!(друг вариант, точния превод: With the truth!“)
Meanwhile, she’s let out a fierce wail: „IDONWANYOUTODIEEEEE!“
Her father, usually a mild, placid man, put the book away, groaning, „Great,“ now in angry damage-control mode: „Alright, alright, WE’RE NOT GONNA DIE!“
„But Mom(my) said you will!“
„Yes, of course we will!“ (hi, me again)
„Yeah, well, too bad.“
More wailing and gnashing of teeth. I decided to fix it.