After we had kids, my wife and I made the responsible decision to make a will and decide what should happen to our kids if we die. Fun stuff. I don’t know how it would have came up in a conversation with a 4 year-old, but apparently my daughter knows that should we die, she will go live with my sister in-law. She is also very pleased by this. I know because she told me.
“Dad, you know what’s exciting?!” She asked me.
“No, what?!” I inquired, expecting her to tell me about something at school, or the park, or pretty much anything other than my mortality.
“When you die, we are going to Aunt Sarah’s!”
Like Bill Cosby said, here take this. Wait, that’s not right. Kids say the darnedest things. Yeah, that’s the one.
I mean, I get the appeal. Aunt Sarah has two daughters of her own and a dog she can play with. And I am glad to know she would apparently have an easy time with the transition. I am less than enthusiastic with how quickly she glossed over the part about my wife and I being dead. A mere detail in the prologue that can easily be skipped on the way to “Chapter 1: I Have a Dog Now.”
My kids have mostly grasped the concept of death thanks to basically every kids movie ever made, but they are still a little unaware of its permanence. They have asked me a few times if people come back from heaven, or where you go after heaven. They also seem to be unaware that it is not something that you have a set appointment for. I know this because upon hearing the news that that my premature death gets them a one way ticket to Aunt Sarah’s, my youngest daughter looked up at me and said-
“Dad, when are you going to die?”
I get wanting to be honest with your kids, but bringing up the concept that I could get hit by a truck tomorrow didn’t seem like it would be productive. I didn’t want to answer a series of follow up questions about the impermanence of life, and I certainly didn’t want to answer any follow up questions about driver safety and why a truck would hit daddy.
Though in hindsight that was a missed opportunity to drive home a point about the need to drive the speed limit and wear a seat belt? Don’t want daddy to die? Then you better not ask for something on a car ride that makes me have to get out of my seat and climb to the back of the van. A.B.P – always be parenting.
“Not for a long time kiddo. Now get your shoes on.”
While I am not thrilled that the prospect of me dying while they are young seems so exciting to them, I can’t help but be impressed with their understanding of importance of, and need for, binding legal documents. It also gives me the option of threatening them with me changing the will.
“If you don’t clean your room I’ll send you to live with your Uncle Nick when I die. He only has a cat!”
Dead parents and a cat, talk about your childhood trauma.