I Don’t Think She’s Ever Seen Sweeney Todd, But Now I’m Not Sure

“Daddy,” Erin began, around a mouthful of English muffin, “I would miss you if you died.”

Oh god.

“Well thanks, babe,” I replied, trying to keep my voice as calm as hers, my tone as matter-of-fact.

“I don’t want you to die,” she concluded, having thought about for a second.

“Okay then.” I couldn’t muster much else. Do I promise to never die? Do I start explaining that everybody dies? It’s Monday morning. It’s breakfast time. This is not how I thought the day would go.

“We should tell the haircutting place that you don’t die.” This one, I admit, baffled me.

“The haircutting place?” I asked. I started reviewing all of her activities over the last week, wondering if Sweeney Todd had been involved. But no, we head sent Sweeney Todd back to Netflix months ago, and I was sure Erin had never even glimpsed it. Is it Snip-its? Has she decided that Snip-its is actually a murderous cult? Is all of this a setup for when we try to take her for a hair cut and she wants some grounds to refuse?

“Because when you die, you have to go to the haircutting place and they cut your hair,” she explained.

“Do you mean the mortician?” I hazarded.

“What’s a mortician?” she asked.

“Well, after people die sometimes their family brings them to a mortician to get a haircut and some makeup to make them look pretty.” I began, uncertain that I should be saying too much about the process.

“Yeah! And then you’re so beautiful!” Erin enthused, and she did a little twirl. Um. Well, now things were getting weird. Weirder. And the stickler in me just couldn’t let it go. “Yes, except that after you die you don’t dance anymore. You just lie there, ” and I folded my arms across my chest and closed my eyes, mimicking  a corpse. What the hell was I doing?

“Ya! You just lie there! And you’re so beautiful!”

I gave up.

“Yep. Now finish your breakfast.”

Mondays are strange when there’s a pre-schooler on the loose.

(So, have you had a morbid morning? What did you tell your kids about death? Did the conversation go better than mine did?)

20 thoughts on “I Don’t Think She’s Ever Seen Sweeney Todd, But Now I’m Not Sure”

  1. Yes, I did have a morbid morning! Our 4.5-year-old daughter asked me on the way to preschool "do little kids die?" Gulp. I said that usually kids grow up and get old but that everyone does die eventually. She said that she didn't want to grow up. I reached back and held her hand for a second while we were at the red light and blinked back tears.

    Then a minute later she asked if we could go to a beach with coconuts because it's funny when coconuts fall out of a tree and onto someone's head. I happily discoursed about coconuts for the rest of the drive…and was ready for a cocktail by the time I got to work. Yikes.

  2. I'm sorry. I couldn't help but laugh.

    We've been having some death talks with the 5 year old. He gets it in only the way a 5 year old could.

    I talk about it with my 3 year old, too, but only in a "I'm going to kill you" kind of way.

  3. Well, the other day my oldest wanted to know how long it takes bodies to decompose once they've been buried…

    Sesame Street to CSI. There's not much in between.

  4. Long time reader, first time commenter… (I've been waiting to say that!). I couldn't pass on this topic.

    My morbid Monday is every week or so when something sparks in my son's head to discuss death. When you die, you go up to Heaven, which is in the clouds way up high. When our Greek Grandmother "Yia Yia" comes to visit she flies in a plane… from the clouds, way up high. All monsters are from Australia. And depending on the day that the topic of death comes along, you have your choice of destination – Greece, Australia or Heaven.
    It's all about the options.

  5. We haven't discussed death with 3y/o Cool Baby, but he has used the words 'kill' and 'destroy' before. We just tell him that those are not good words to use, because he wasn't using them in any appropriate context. Not sure what would be a good context for him to use them; we often don't talk about war or pest control with him.

  6. Is she telling you that you haven't gotten a haircut in so long that your barber probably thinks you've died?

  7. The dog died under the table during my youngest's 5th birthday party for family. It was awkward. The child was so happy it was his birthday, he didn't mind the dog-related activities.

    Same kid as above, then in middle school, and sister in high school were waiting in line with me in the hs gym for our turn with a teacher for P/T conferences. Among other funky interests, all three of my kids are bio-geeks, and these two got into a heated discussion about the chemistry and rates of decomposition at the cellular level after death. The noisy gym got really quiet for about 15 feet around us, and the various looks on people's faces were priceless.

    Whatever they want to get into, just talk about it. They're sponges, and frankness builds trust.

  8. Oh, we've had that conversation with Bunker Monkey. He goes through phases where he's fascinated by death, rapidly followed by the "I don't want you to die/I don't want to die/I don't want to grow up" period. Right now I think he's realizing that age and death are somehow connected, so he's asking if his grandparents are gonna die. It's easier to convince him when it's someone young, but how exactly do you tell a 7yr old that his 80+ yr old grandparents aren't going to die for a really long time (which is our strategy when he asks about mommy and daddy dying)? Especially when one of those grandparents is currently in the hospital?

    Parenting is fun.

    1. We've got Erin saying "but not for a really really really really really

      really really really really really really really (breath) really really

      really really really really long time".

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