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Monday, February 27, 2006


Boys Don't Cry

If there's anything that upsets me, it's having people say I'm sensitive. - Deputy Barney Fife

I wasn't going to say anything to my son about Don Knotts passing away. He's 7-years-old. What's the point?

My son already knows about death. In fact, he's been rather non-chalant about it in the past. When he was five, we were at his great-grandma's house and he pointed at a picture of my grandfather. He asked, "Who is that?" My grandma told him it was her husband, his great-grandfather. He then asked, "Where is he?" She chose her words very carefully, saying, "Well, a long time ago he became very sick and God took him away, and now he's in heaven." My son looked up at her and said, very matter-of-fact, "Oh, he's dead."

There have been other instances where he's talked about cemeteries, mummies, gravestones, skeletons, and ghosts. He knows all about his Uncle, who died when I was ten. We even visited my brother's grave a few years ago and my son was extremely inquisitive, but not upset.

But, still, I don't like to dwell on the subject of death with him for fear that his young mind will begin to obsess on it. So, when I heard the news about Don Knotts, I immediately decided I wouldn't say anything about it to him.

On Saturday evening we sat down to watch a little bit of the Olympic bobsledding before dinner. After the kids arranged pillows and got comfy on the couch, I turned on the TV to see the sportcaster finish up a thought and then pass the coverage over to NBC News. The first thing out of the anchor's mouth was "Comedian Don Knotts died yesterday in Los Angeles" and then they put up a full-screen graphic with his picture and dates of birth and death.

You can imagine the look of stunned horror on my son's face. I started to tell him that Knotts had been very sick and he had lived a very long life, but his face was already buried in a pillow.

He cried for about fifteen minutes. And he wouldn't talk, just kept his face in the pillow and made sniffly noises. As with most kids, though, he recovered to eat dinner, later asking to watch an episode of The New Scooby Doo Movies. "The one with Don Knotts in it?" I asked. No... he wanted the one where The Harlem Globetrotters visit Haunted Island.


Anonymous brettdl said...

It's good that your son can cry. By the time I was 6 or 7, my dad had it in my head that men don't cry. My dad's impact was so huge, I've only cried once in 20 or so years.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Darth Daddy said...

We've only touched on the subject of death occasionally. WIth Logan being only 3, not only don't I want him to opbsess with it, but I also knwo that he's not of an aget to really grasp it. The inlaws had a dog that passed recentl;y. Logan would play with her all the time, and it didn't seem to phase him when she wasn't there anymore.

From time to time, I'll hoist floating goldfish out of the fishtank , and he'll say "Poor fishie- he dead dada?". I'l say "Yep - poor fishie dead". He'll want to see the fish, but then goes off to play.


8:55 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I don't think talking about death to children will cause them to obsess about it. In fact, I think even very young children have fears about all kinds of things and when we try and avoid talking about something so important, they are still wondering in their heads what it's all about. My parents always avoided talking about it with me and I did obsess about it. A lot. I have a friend whose son is 5 and she still spells out the word "die" in conversation if he's around. I don't think we should dwell on it either, but if our children have questions, we shouldn't try and change the subject. My son is always very curious about everything and we've had very recent deaths in the family and he's asked some very thoughtful questions about heaven, mostly, and not having been there I'm unable to answer them with any accuracy, but I'm still able to assure him that after our life here on earth, it's the best place to be. For what it's worth, I've no doubt that Mr. Knotts is there as well. And I'm sure after a little time your son will go back to those videos and enjoy them as much as ever.

5:39 AM  
Blogger KC said...

My kid's figuring it out, a bit. It bothered her a lot that the neighbor's cat and dog both died within a short time a year ago.

I was rather bothered by the death of Mr. Rogers a few years ago -- he always seemed so timeless and healthy (and on TV every day faithfully), and I didn't even know he was sick until the news broke. I don't think I cried, though.

I did cry at the untimely violent death of a college classmate. She was strangled (and raped?) while jogging in the Washington, DC area in 1990 or so. I was soooo stunned to know someone who'd had this happen to her. I couldn't get over it for hours after hearing of it, and her funeral didn't make me any happier.

I was almost as saddened at the collapse of the towers on 9/11. And, when the insane insurgents started beheading people on TV.

I figure little kids don't grasp that someone on the VCR could be on his deathbed in real life. Someone likeable would be hard to part with if the kid thinks that means the person might never be on TV again

9:53 PM  

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