As a mother who happens to work as an educator, I'm often stumped by the questions our preschool girls pose. I need inspiration to strike in order to answer them to the satisfaction of both parties.
We were on the road home after dinner at the Grandparents', when the elder sister spotted a brightly lit van in front of our family car.
"Mummy, it's someone's birthday. Is that a Happy Birthday Car?" She piped, trying to sit forward while strapped in her booster seat to take a closer look.
"Happy Birthday Car?"
I realised, at that moment, it was a funeral hearse. It was probably decorated for an Indian or someone of Hindu faith.
Oh, our elder girl did not know much about funerals or the natural cycle of life. Hence she associated the neon lights on the hearse with a birthday celebration. A child making such connections - surely something bright has to do with a positive occasion?
I hesitated and went, "Hmm."
"The lights are nice." She continued.
Suddenly I found myself replying, "Yes the lights are nice. It's not a Happy Birthday Car though. It's a Goodbye Car."
"A Goodbye Car?"
"Yes, a Goodbye Car. Someone is going to Heaven and we say goodbye."
"Why go there?"
"Someone is going to be an angel. We say goodbye and wish the person will be happy there."
Our elder girl looked pensive, before she turned her attention to chatting with the younger sister.
As an educator, I wasn't entirely sure if the answer was one befitting of the situation. But as a mum, it certainly gave me lots to think about. An education in the matters of life - languages, sciences, relationships, safety, etc - must be coupled with an education in the matters of life's end. To hold dear to one's heart the people and things we have - that can only come when we realise the fleeting nature of one's lifetime.
It's not taboo - we need to talk about it in the right way at each stage of childhood.
#parenting #getitright #life #death #education #reflections #singapore