Levi and I have most of our heart-to-hearts while he’s sitting on the toilet.
He’ll be four in July, so our conversations mostly have to do with events that occurred earlier that day (or sometimes earlier that week) at nursery school. For example, he had to be a bad guy instead of a good guy when playing superheroes with his friends. Or a classmate wouldn’t share the pretend tools and he really wanted to play with them.
I listen to his stream of consciousness, offering the occasional “Oh, really?” and “How did that make you feel?” and “How do you think that made so-and-so feel?” But every so often, Levi asks direct question that stumps me.
This past weekend, while he was going potty, Levi wanted to know about the pharaoh from the story of Passover. Where did he live? Was he still there? Could we see him?
Sitting on the ledge of the tub, I explained to Levi that Pharaoh lived in a far, far away place called Egypt a long, long time ago. It was the long, long ago part that he just couldn’t grasp.
“So is Pharaoh still there?”
“No, that happened many, many, many years ago and there isn’t a Pharaoh anymore.”
“Why? Where did he go?”
“Uh, he went away.”
“Well, where did go?”
“Umm, he died.”
“What does died mean?”
“Stop playing with those pieces of toilet paper, and wipe your tushy if you’re done going potty.”
Perhaps that wasn’t my finest parenting moment. But I find relief in knowing I’m not the only mom who isn’t sure how to talk to my kid about the really hard stuff.
My friend Alyssa, in a fantastic parenting interview on Mommy Shorts, recalls the time her daughter asked how babies come out of mommies’ tummies. Her reply was that the doctor does “some special magic.” In retrospect, she wasn’t proud of her answer. In fairness, I’m not sure how I’d explain the miracle of birth to my preschooler, either.
Do you have any tips on how to explain big concepts like birth and death to little kids? Have you ever been asked any cringe-worthy questions by a preschooler? If so, how did you respond?
(photo from my Instagram)