“Is that where Grandpa sleeps, Mummy?”
(*Rose points at Grandma’s bed while ‘helping’ me sort washing out earlier this week*)
“No sweetheart he doesn’t live here anymore, remember?”
“Oh. Is he still poorly?”
(She knew he was living in a care home because he was unwell)
“No, he isn’t poorly anymore, poppet”
“Oh. Is he resting?”
“Yes, I suppose he is”
“Is he on holiday, Mummy?”
“In a way, yes…”
“At the seaside??”
“No sweetheart, Grandpa is resting in heaven now”
When I look back over the conversation I feel bad for being so vague but I needed to buy myself some time. (How much do I tell her? How do I even start to explain? DO I even go there??!) I have no idea whether I even believe in heaven; I’d like to think there’s some sort of an afterlife, but I’m not religious in the slightest. In my head ‘Heaven’ sounded a heck of a lot nicer than “No sweetheart, Grandpa died” (*cue can of worms of epic proportions opening*). Two and a half years old is surely too young to learn about death? She’s worried enough about me not coming to Pre-School with her in June for goodness sake, imagine if I explained to her I won’t always be around. Yeesh.
Our talk got me thinking about the things we tell our children. Aside from an Elf who came to keep an eye on things throughout December, a chocolate-loving Bunny who might visit in a few weeks time and a chubby fella in a red outfit popping out of our fireplace on Christmas night, I try my absolute hardest to always be honest, telling only a handful of sanity-saving fibs. For example, Netflix don’t always show Peppa Pig on our TV, the car won’t start if we don’t have our seatbelts on and McDonald’s is sometimes closed when we drive by, even though the lights are on. (They’re cleaning up before they go home).
I try to explain things properly as much as possible – partly because I remember absolutely despising being told “Because I said so” when I asked “But why?” for the fourteen thousandth time, but mostly because I really don’t want to lie to the people I love. And that’s why the whole Heaven situation is so tricky. I don’t even know if it’s a lie. No-one does. When the topic re-emerges I think I’m going to have to go with “Well, what I would like to think happens is…” and hope that it isn’t too much for her brilliant and bright budding brain to grasp.
Rose learns new things at an alarming rate as she is ALL about the questions. This week she has learned that she can see her breath when it’s cold because the warm air hits the cold air and makes a sort of ‘steam’ (we didn’t get too scientific), last week she learned that the yellow flowers in the churchyard are called daffodils and when she got tired on the way home in the car at the weekend, she learned that sucking her thumb might make her beautiful teeth stick out.
I’m sure there will always be exaggerations (the threatened thumb-sucking consequence isn’t a guarantee, after all), age-related-censoring (for now, tampons are a ‘special kind of loo roll’ which ladies sometimes use) and I’m sure there will be many a moment where I have to resort to google to be able to answer her with confidence (…maths homework… *shudder*) but I vow to be as honest as I can be – that is, until the next time I reach my pain threshold with Peppa bloody pig, anyway.