A downtown kid’s tough questions
Yesterday, we were driving down Montreal Road and we passed Beechwood Cemetery.
Little one: What’s that mommy?
Me: That’s a cemetery.
Little one: What’s it for?
It was the first time she asked a question that I didn’t quite know how to answer.
It got me thinking about the other questions that are to come. She’s a clever and curious kid who has entered the “why” stage.
Plus, we live in Lowertown.
Living downtown, and in our neighbourhood, means she’ll likely be exposed to homelessness; drug use; prostitution; public intoxication; socio-economic, ethnic and religious diversity; political activism; etc. at an earlier age and more often than I was.
This means I’ll have some tough questions coming my way pretty soon.
How do you explain this stuff to a kid? Eventually, as she gets older, the most basic explanations won’t be enough. How do I not force her to grow up too fast? How do I instill in her an appreciation for what she has, an awareness of the world beyond herself and a desire to help others? How do I let her form her own opinions? How do I not scare her?
These questions scare me far more than any sex-ed discussions we might have to have. That stuff is easy; there are lots facts and all kinds of books to help me out, but this stuff…
It’s a little more…complicated, filled with opinions, beliefs, philosophy and even darkness.
I made it through the cemetery question with a brief but awkward explanation of old people dying and going to sleep and the cemetery being a special place to go to think about and be with them.
Little one: Am I going to sleep there? I want to sleep there.
Me: Not for a very very very long time. When you’re really really old, older than Gramps.
Little one: Why people die sleep?
Before I could answer she told me she was a dinosaur and let out a loud roar…and I was safe…for now.
Downtown parents with older children, how do you deal with this stuff?