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.