The “D” Word
In preparation for my son’s first day of Kindergarten today, I attended an interview with his teacher yesterday. It mostly entailed questions of, “Can he tie his shoes?”, “Does he feel shy in new situations?” and “Can he wipe his own bottom?”
At the end of our little meeting, his teacher asked about his special interests. I listed off his favourite play things (Lego, cars, his bike), the things he likes to do with his friends (swim, play hide-n-seek, jump on a trampoline) and his favoured topics of conversation (monster trucks, chickens and death).
His teacher stared at me for a moment after the latter item. “Oh…,” she replied, “What does he say when he talks about death?”
“He often ponders over what it feels like or what you see when you die. Sometimes he wonders when he or I will die,” I told her in a tone that suggested this was common-place and not really worth a huge amount of detail.
She listened with a faint look of concern on her face. This look turned soft as she asked, “Do you think he would benefit from speaking to our school counsellor?”
I suppose with the fact that this, death, is such a common topic in our house it hadn’t occurred to me that this type of conversation might be cause for concern at his school. I thought for a moment about her suggestion. An avalanche of thoughts tumbled around in my brain, “Is it bad that he talks about death? But I want him to feel comfortable talking about his concerns! Are other parents going to be upset when their child quotes my son’s occasional morbid thinking? I can’t guarantee that he will even say anything to other children. Are his questions abnormal? This IS normal to him!”