I've heard from many people that 4 is the age when there is lots of curiosity and discussion about death. We have found that to be so true here - like a switch was flipped on the topic on her 4th birthday. It has been interesting because you never know when you will suddenly be in "that discussion".
Today was one of those days, and coincidentally, I had been thinking about how some of our family history might be shared earlier in the day. On the radio, there was an interview with one of the actresses who played a part in the series "roots". She was talking about how powerful it was to share the family stories with one another and pass them down through the ages, whether good or bad, happy or sad, and regardless of how disturbing they might be.
On the way home from school, the kids began to ask about my dad.
Who is your daddy?
His name is James.
Where is he?
He is not alive anymore, he died.
Why did he die?
He was really sick.
How sick was he? Was he really really really really sick?
He was so sick he did not want to live anymore.
And then it was quiet.
I said, "Everyone worries that their moms and dads will die." and Peanut said "I worry about that sometimes." So we talked a bit about how we both (mom and dad) want to be alive and are healthy and will be here as long as we can be.
And then the conversation moved on to other things like what Pumpkin ate for lunch.
Honey and I know that we have history to share, and while sometimes it may be worrisome or scary, it is important to us to be honest and tell our stories to our children as fully as we can. We also try hard to talk at the right level for their ages, so I know this will be a cyclical thing as their understanding increases. Honey has already had this discussion with Peanut before, and each time a new layer unfolds. It seems to be therapeutic for me in a way, sharing small bits of information, thinking about how best to clearly answer before I blurt my initial thoughts out. Their curiosity helps me sort out my own self. Parenting takes you places you didn't realize were out there, doesn't it?