So, to get a background to this story (and to comfort myself rather than rush straight into my big mistake!) .....When Baby Bear's aunties suggested a goldfish for his Birthday, Daddy Bear and I thought it was a brilliant idea. He has loads of toys and we knew he would be very excited about a pet. Plus we thought it would teach responsibility etc etc etc!! What we didn't think it would bring up was the topic of death!
Not even a month in our home and the much loved Stanley (name chosen by Baby Bear) was found floating in the tank. Daddy Bear and I thought it might upset Baby Bear so we quickly flushed him down the toilet before Baby Bear even noticed. We then told him Stanley had died and now was in heaven with Socks (Granny's cat!) Initially he was ok with this. We told him we could get a new fish and maybe even two so they can be friends!
Over the next day or two Baby Bear was all questions about death. I tried to explain as best I could, telling him that my Granny and Daddy Bear's Granny are in heaven too. I thought Baby Bear was getting this, he asked a few more questions, and seemed happy with the little chats we had about it. How wrong I was.....when we called over to Granny one day, Baby Bear ran over to her, gave her a very tight squeezy hug and calls over to tell me "Her not dead". Oh how my heart sang, all this time Baby Bear thought his Granny, like his fish was dead and gone forever! I felt so guilty. He was obviously sad about this, but his feelings didn't match mine and so he didn't show them! So we tried to explain again we did it in much less detail and just focused on getting the new fish! I asked for advice from other mums and got great ideas....little did I think I would be using these ideas so soon!!!!
|Baby Bear brining Pizza and Pancakes home|
The following week, Pizza and Pancakes (Baby Bear again choosing excellent names!) were bought in the local pet shop. We had the tank cleaned out and ready for them. 3 days later and Pizza was a floater! I couldn't believe it!!! Right, those ideas come into play. This time I showed Baby Bear Pizza floating, he asked why he died, I simply answered that maybe he was very old! ??? What was I meant to say! I hadn't a flipping clue what we were doing wrong with these Fish!! We decided to burry Pizza in the garden, Baby Bear choose the sopt: a flower pot! He got his shovel and we made a little hole...placed Pizza and covered him over. I asked would we get a flower to put on, this idea was totally rejected, so we put a leaf! Baby Bear, of his own accord said 'Bye Pizza', turned with his shovel and went back into the house!!
We had been to the library that morning
so we came in and read some of the book. 'Eric the Hero' was a great choice as Baby Bear didn't know what a hero was before and now was all chat about heros! Great I thought!! So as the rain poured down outside, I thought it would be a nice treat to put on a movie and snuggle on the couch! Baby Bear was thrilled at the idea. Here is the part I stopped using my brain!!!! I opened the DVD cupboard and a 'fishy' themed DVD grabbed my attention. Ah lovely I thought, this will be a nice movie to watch about happy Fish, playing and laughing and would really cheer up Baby Bear!!! The DVD in question: 'Finding Nemo'! Have YOU ever seem 'Finding Nemo'! I hadn't seen it in years!!! And clearly had forgotten the story!!!! It was awful!!! 15 mins in Baby Bear burst into tears, was shaking and had his fists clenched! He was soo upset!! I tried to comfort him, telling him wait to see who the Hero will be! My mind was racing! What had i just done!!!! I had completely added total sadness to an already upsetting(ish) day! Never before had I seen such sadness and upset from Baby Bear. I honestly think this was his first time experiencing utter sadness. Should I turn the DVD off? Should I wait and hope there is a happy ending? I didn't know what to do! Baby Bear was sitting shaking tucked in beside me, his eyes not leaving the TV. I decided on the latter, as the tears flew down his face throughout the movie I hoped against hope that the hero would swim in and save the day! This was a long time coming.....I skipped many scenes until finally Hero Dad arrived, saved Nemo and then....over!!! an hour of utter terror, sadness and suspense for 5 minutes happiness at the end!!!! I tried to make a big deal of the hero coming etc but all I cold think was "what the hell had i just done!!" I honestly didn't know weather to burst out laughing or crying!!
|Bad DVD choice!|
Off with the telly, out comes jigsaws, lego, paints, fire engines, train sets...you name I was more than willing to play it! I must admit...I also went to the treat box and pulled out a lollypop...when that was gone I then puled out a packet of jellies!!!! What was I doing!!!! I actually didn't know what to do!!! Do I talk about it some more.....he's 3, how much will he really get.......but I cant just try ignore it....or can I? Baby Bear seemed happy out again....but was he just hiding his emotions again??
No I think he left out all his sadness, the first fish, thinking Granny had died, the second fish and now Nemo! I think it was all bottled up and Nemo took the cock off the bottle. Daddy Bear and I will try very gentle to talk and read stories about feelings and showing feelings with him over his entire life but I think we've enough for now! The very last thing I want is to be putting on my counsellor hat, Im Mommy Bear and he is Baby Bear, not a client.
But showing 'Finding Nemo' God almighty! What was I thinking!!!!! What have I done?!?!?
So there it is.....my biggest (that Im aware!) parenting mistake to date! And yes I know there will be many more to come, but the first was tough!
I will put up the resources and ideas I received from other mums about dealing with death with a toddler/preschooler. Maybe they can be of help to you. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, how you have dealt with death with your child how they reacted, and what you might do differently.
Thanks for reading,
Mommy Bear xx