About a week ago my dad’s dog Dixie died. When I told Mike and Robbie what happened, I reminded them that now she was in heaven with our dog Alice who died about a year and a half ago. That was pretty much the whole conversation we had. I could tell that they needed to think about it for a while, so I left it at that.
A few days later my dad (Granddaddy) and step-mom (Noni) stopped by for a visit with their other dog Dot, and Robbie ran right up right up to Noni. The first thing he said to her was how sorry he was that Dixie wasn’t here, but he was so glad that we still had Dot. He just genuinely wanted to make sure that they were doing OK after the death of their dog.
It is not bragging when I say that Robbie is incredibly empathetic, it is just a statement of fact. He has an amazing ability to just know what other people are feeling, and it is the first thing that new teachers tell me about him. It is at the core of his personality.
So I was shocked this morning.
I went to drop Robbie off at preschool this morning and they told me that the father of one of the teachers had died. Truly horrible news, and I was and am still devastated for her. However, they then told me that they were going to talk about it at school today.
Here’s what I heard: They were going to tell Robbie that the dad of a teacher he loves died. They were going to tell Robbie that daddies can die.
He is four!
Even if he didn’t make the connection to his own father right away, he would certainly be devastated to hear about his friend’s father. Robbie has enough nightmares, and I really didn’t think he needed more fodder.
“Are you fucking kidding me? Why in the world would you want to tell my four year old that daddies can die?”
That was on the inside. What I really said was that this was disturbing to me and I hoped that they could talk about it more generally. I said that I would be really concerned if they talked about this at school. I’m usually very easy-going, but this was a big deal to me. I considered taking Robbie home with me instead of leaving him at school, but in the end I hoped I had gotten my point across.
So when I picked him up today I was really interested to hear how it went. It turns out they decided to just talk in general terms about how the teacher was having a hard time, how they’re all like a family, and things the kids could do to help her feel better. So the kids are making pictures for the teacher and things like that. I think this is great!
Apparently the concerns I voiced in the morning influenced their choices, and for that I am grateful, but here’s where my question to you comes in. I absolutely adore every one of Robbie’s teachers, and I think that this is such a great classroom for him to be a part of. But for the first time I’m a little freaked-out about what might have happened if I hadn’t had the time to chat with the teacher before I left.
Am I high? Is this something that kids should learn in preschool? Of course it would be different if god-forbid something horrible had happened to a child in the class, but other than that I think it is my job to teach my kids about death. What do you think?