One day last year, I picked Will up from school and noticed that the kids were watching Land Before Time. I had seen the movie as a kid and vaguely remembered it as a cute dinosaur movie. A few days later, I purchased the DVD and added it to our collection in the van. Will was three at the time and I remember being totally caught off guard by this scene...
As the t-rex fight scene came to a close, I instantly remembered what was about to happen. I remember floating my finger over the fast-forward button, thinking that I could easily zip past the scene. He might have let out a, "Hey!" and then become easily distracted by whatever came next. When the movie was over, I could shelve it up high in a closet and replace it with an old-faithful, Elmo in Grouchland. I could protect my baby's innocent and perfect view of the world. I could avoid the whole Littlefoot's mommy is sleeping and not waking up and why is she not waking up and what happened and who's going to protect Littlefoot and now he's all alone and is she sleeping, is she coming back and mommy, mommy, mommy...
But for whatever reason, I avoided the proverbial easy button, and let the scene play out. This was Will's first official introduction to death and loss.
As time passed, our DVD collection expanded to include similar scenes.
There was Mustafa, killed in a stampede as Simba watched helplessly. I'll spare you the YouTube video. Just two words: crumpled whiskers. Sigh.
Then Nemo's mom.
And then Optimus Prime (after I assured my boy that robots never die) "became one with the Matrix"...
He flat-lined for crying out loud.
Then there was Obi-Wan Kenobi, struck down by Darth Vader and evolving into some sort of Force Ghost.
And somewhere along the way, there was the Thriller video. (I'm not exactly sure why we showed him this video, but we did.) Decaying corpses moaning and rising from the ground with outstretched arms will definitely spark a four-year-old's curiousity.
These were Will's first introductions to death and dying.
Now, nearly at the age of five, we are getting past these fictional accounts and beginning to deal with some real life stuff.
(To be continued.)
Did you or your child have a similar first introduction to death or loss?
Feel free to share comments below.