Sometimes with toddlers you find yourself in a conversation so unexpected all you can do is dive right in and hope for the best.
A few nights ago we were reading bedtime stories and we read Moo-Cow Kung-Fu-Cow and in the story there is mention of tattoos which lead to a discussion about Mummy and Daddy's tattoos and in particular one on Daddy's arm that has the name of our first son who was stillborn - Banjo.
We have never really laboured this event with Noah and we certainly don't discuss it regularly and definitely not in a sad way. We have however been open with him. We have a big gum tree in our backyard with a plaque for Banjo and there is a teddy bear with his name and birth date printed on (Noah also has one of those for his birth). We do visit the cemetary a couple of times a year. We have kept the facts pretty light for him. 'Mummy had a baby boy in her tummy before you and he was sick so he went to Heaven to be an angel.'
This particular conversation started the same way but the questions just kept coming. They Why's were never ending and I patiently answered them all - keeping things simple and light. I guess he is getting to the age where the concept of death is solidifying for him. We recently saw the Lion King and of course the death of Mufasa was a major storyline and it may even have started this whole interest.
At one stage he asked for Banjo's bear in bed with him for a snuggle and I could see he was getting teary, I was not showing any sadness so it amazes me that his little mind is processing this concept and understanding the emotions that go with it. He's only just turned 3.
Eventually I managed to wind up the conversation and said goodnight but as I walked to the door to leave his room he started sobbing. There is only one other time I have seen Noah genuinely cry and that was when he saw me cry. We get the hurt cry and the 'sad that I got told off or can't get what I want' cry but this was different. My heart broke in two - he was wailing by now with cries of 'Mummy why did Banjo leave us' 'Why did he have to go'. ' I love Banjo the best'. He was inconsolable. All I could do was hold him.
He was very confused by his own emotions and even asked me at one stage why he felt so sad. I told him that's it's because he is a beautiful boy with a huge heart full of love and it's all true. His capacity for love, kindness and compassion amazes me every day.
Eventually he calmed down and went to sleep and since then he has asked more questions but thankfully no repeats of the emotions of that night.
Is 3 too young to know about death? How much information do you think is the right amount?