Ok, I think I have made a mistake.
I'm usually a relatively confident parent. I may do things differently to others but I think as long as you have your children's best interests at heart, you are doing a good job, right?
Recently, a conversation with Little P spiralled way out of control and I feel a bit out of my depth. She had started to put string around Little N's neck (her dog) and in a panic the following conversation happened:
Me: No!! You mustn't do that. It's dangerous to put things around people's necks
Little P: Why? (what else?)
Me (still in panic mode): Because they can't breath and they could die! (Agreed, not my finest moment)
This was not how I had planned on explaining death to my children. That said, I hadn't planned on it at all. I certainly hadn't meant to describe it so violently. Yet there I was talking to my two year old about strangulation (How did I get here?!)
That was not the end of it. Here we are a few weeks later and, much to the amusement of my friends and Daddy, Little P is casually dropping the words 'die' and 'dead' into conversation left, right and centre. We went to story time at the local library today and I'm not entirely sure how it came about but she was talking to the storyteller about the 'death' of a sunflower. *Hangs head in shame*
I've tried backtracking and explaining how it makes me feel sad and it is not something to be considered lightly but I'm not sure it's going to wash.
We watched Bambi the other day (she asked for the film about the goat, it took me a while...) and I thought I'd do some prep work re: the death of Bambi's mum. Big mistake. From the moment the film started I was subject to questions and comments such as 'is she dead yet?' and 'I think she'll die soon'.
Is there a right time? Should their innocence be protected until, god forbid, such a time they need to know or is it something they should be prepared for?
I recently read a post over at The Accidental Parent Guide about the really sad loss of their pet rabbits and the process they went through to help their daughter grieve. I found it really touching and, not to take away in any way from the tragedy, seemed like a really appropriate introduction to dealing with loss.
For now I think I'll just have to wait it out until Little P's obsession quietens down little. Luckily, Little N is doing a fantastic job of playing a dog without a lead. She follows her sister around when called and eats leftovers off the floor.