Saturday, March 19, 2011

He was a good frog

Jump no more
Delray Beach, FL, December 2010
About this photo: We're winding down the latest Thematic theme, late (click here to share), and preparing for the next new theme, transitions. It launches for it.
The scene: I'm shooting pictures around the edge of the pool while the kids wear themselves out in the water. They're old enough now that I no longer have to sit high up and watch them, hawk-like, like the lifeguard I once was. I'm still hyper-vigilant, of course, but I can also afford to pick up a camera and multitask a bit. One of the benefits of age, I guess.

I come across this frog floating in the pool. I carefully remove its clearly lifeless form because even frogs deserve to not end up sucked into the skimmer basket. I'm trying to avoid drawing attention to myself, as I don't want to upset the little folks. As I try to quickly remove the frog from sight, our youngest son notices what I'm up to and swims on over. I'm not going to fake this one: I have to admit the poor little fella is dead.

Noah pauses. In that moment, I can almost hear his mind churning, wondering what we do next. When he starts talking again, he's no longer the frenetic munchkin excitedly sharing Every Last Detail of his swimming adventures. He's quieter, more thoughtful, almost as if someone flipped a switch in him. He seems older, somehow, as he suggests finding a quiet spot to bury him. We both agree on the landscaped cedar-shingle bed behind the bushes at the edge of the pool.

"But you're going to take a picture of him, right Dad?"

I do. And we carefully walk behind the bushes and find a nice spot for him. "I bet he was a good frog," says Noah. I nod quiet agreement, thinking to myself that the growing boy who made this moment happen is pretty good in his own right.

Your turn: How do you explain death to a child?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Truthfully- by telling them it is part of the cycle of life...No one lives forever tho to a child it may seem that way... That we are only here for a short time to experience, learn, and enhance other people as well as ourselves.. To make the most of the time we are here... Sounds easy, but its not.. and depending on the age of the child, they may not get it, and do we? especially when we question why someone was taken from us?

Alexia said...

We have always had animals: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, rabbits. So this moment came fairly early with my children, both of whom were as sensitive and thoughtful about the world around them as yours are, Carmi.

And KBF has the answer: "truthfully, by telling them it is part of the cycle of life"

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Thanks Alexia... I had to explain the truth about prejudice to my middle child in jr. high.. she couldn't comprehend it.. It hurt to see her cry when I explained why prejudice exists. Almost as bad as when she wanted me to take the pain she felt when dealing w/her Dad's death.. HTH do u do that??

Chibi Janine said...

Interesting post as my husband and I were having the discussion about death when my son after he accidently stood on a ladybird. Husband pointed out this to my son, part of me was honey he doesn't need to know that he killed a ladybird but the other part of me was if he learns the lesson now that his actions have consequences he should grow into a conscientiousness adult.

It made my son sad that the ladybird was broken and as it was a living thing that can't be fixed. A hug from mummy cheered him up but he will remember the lesson and no doubt will tell me about it possibly week later. I will not hide from him death as it happens.

Melissa said...

There is a book by Leo Buscaglia - The Fall of Freddie the Leaf - that puts death in clear, non-threatening terms, explaining it as part of the natural course of life.

My brother and I actually performed it in a Readers Theatre thing when I was twelve and he was thirteen.

I am bringing a copy to him in California later this Spring...

As to frogs - I find myself fishing frogs and geckos, and - my least favorite - baby birds out of my swimming pool every time there's a major storm.

Anna said...

I think it says something both about you and your son that you cared. Character, a good heart and all that. I always hate to see a broken little butterfly, or a raccoon curled up on the side of the road... it's just so wrong.
I think Noah got it right though, celebrating the life of the frog, honoring him with a moment instead of just passing on.
Thank you for sharing this story.

kcinnova said...

Ah, this is a timely and beautiful post. When my stepfather died, my mother sent my kids a lovely book called "Lifetimes"
that gently taught about the cycle of life for all living things. -- how smaller creatures have shorter life spans and mighty redwoods live hundreds of years. It also touched on people and illness that takes us apart too soon.
My kids are a bit older now (the baby is 11) but I just might be pulling it out again soon.