Alex and the dead cat

So, we were going for a walk the other day, with Alex on his balance bike, and we chanced upon a recently dead cat on the sidewalk.

Death has been on Alex’s mind a lot lately. He will routinely say things like, “I don’t want Mommy to die!” or “Why do we have to die?” I remember the other kids going through a similar stage at the same age. But kids are so funny about death: they don’t have the same hang ups and baggage that us older folks do.

For example, as we were passing the cat, and Alex was pondering life, death and the mysteries of the universe, he said to me, “I’m going to drive over it with my bike!”

Me: “No, no, never touch something that is dead. It is yucky and has germs on it.”
Alex: “No, with my bike.”
Me: “Don’t touch an animal that is dead.”
Alex, perplexed: “No, with my bike. *I* won’t touch it, the germies will be on my tires.”
Me: “Alex, there are diseases. I don’t want them on your bike either; that bike has to go in my house.”

Now, this went around and around for a bit. He REALLY wanted to run over that dead cat with his bike! So finally Ollie stepped in. “Great,” I thought. “Maybe Ollie can talk to him kid-to-kid. Get him to understand why we shouldn’t drive over dead cats.”

Ollie: “Okay, so, imagine if Evelyn was dead and she was lying on the road. Would you drive over HER with your bike??”

That is…not how I would have approached the subject.

EXCEPT IT WORKED!

Alex thought about it for a bit and then said, “No, I wouldn’t. But…” I could tell he was still struggling with it a bit – he felt like he still had an argument to make – but he couldn’t escape that kid-to-kid logic. And anyway, by that time I had coaxed him down the street a bit, so riding over the cat wasn’t feasible anymore.

I warned Sara about this because I knew it was bound to come up again, so I wanted her to be prepared. (Oh, that and the fact that she was going to have to walk by that dead cat on the way to work.) So tonight, Sara decided to broach the subject and see if Alex had any more to say about it. You know, work through his complicated feelings on the subject? Maybe he had some feelings he needed to work out?

Sara, while stirring food in the crockpot: “I saw that dead cat…”
Alex: “Did you cook it?”

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