Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sad Bird

So I've known for a while the F is pretty sensitive and also has a very good memory, a combination which at times can prove difficult, particularly when there are some things I wish she would forget.

Like,  that charming vocabulary word she has learned because a significant male her in her life uses it to verbally bludgeon inanimate objects into submission without regard for passing 2 year-olds.

There have been other things too. Two weeks ago, the two babies and I were exploring the yard and visiting the volcanoes (aka tree stumps). As we turned the corner on the back of my house I didn't notice a dead bird in the grass before F did. K was trying to eat a spider and Ulrich was trying to chase the cats though the closed downstairs window and I guess I was distracted.

Anyway, but the time I caught up, she'd been looking at it for a while.

"What's this, Mama?"

"Um, it's a bird. Why don't we go find some dandelions?"

She stared at it, unmoving. It was clearly dead, but perhaps of natural causes. I mean, it was intact. I had some vague hopes that she would get bored with it not moving and leave it alone.

Also, I was torn. I didn't want to make a big deal of shooing her away from it, like it was some horrible thing and run the risk of making the whole situation worse. Play it down, was my thought. But also, PLEASE CAN WE JUST GET AWAY FROM THIS DECOMPOSING BIRD, was my other thought.

"Is it going to fwy?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Is it sweeping?"

*cringe* This was getting seriously uncomfortable for me now. How does one explain death to a 2 year old while she's looking at this ugly thing?

"No, it's not sleeping."

"Mama, is the bird sad?"

What could I say? Yes? No? There were no good options. I panicked, muttered some inarticulate response, took her by the hand dragged her off to investigate whether there are any apples on our trees. There aren't.

F is normally a good sleeper, but that night she woke up every hour or so, sobbing huge serious sobs with big tears running down her cheeks. I couldn't get her to tell me what was wrong. I thought she was telling me there was a bug in her bed, but I couldn't find one and I didn't think she would see one if she were asleep anyway.

By the time the fourth wake-up came along, it was P's turn. Daddies have a powerful securing effect on the psyche and she slept through the rest of the night. In the morning she was more coherent.

"I had a bad dream," she told me, as I changed her diaper,"The sad bird was in my bed."

No wonder she woke up so much. What a terrifying dream.

Needless to say, we didn't linger on the topic of the bird and I had hoped the whole thing had been washed away by the river of fun and beautiful experiences F is exposed to every day.

But, when an old family friend came for a visit two days ago and F took her to see the volcanoes, which she and I have visited countless times in between, guess what else came up. As soon as they rounded the corner F pointed to the corner where it had been and said, "There was a sad bird. It did not fwy."

I only wrote about this because it seems like it was such a significant thing for F. I know it's a downer.

It makes me wonder why the human mind is so sensitive to images of death. I also can't really figure out a way to counter the impression the bird gave her. I mean, she sees live birds all the time, of courseh, but what can I do to ease the idea of death into her little world?

Surely it's too early?