Explaining Death to a Child Really Sucks

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Over the weekend, my puppy, Shorty, died.

He was 14 years old and was in poor health for a short while. He had a series of seizures and my mom finally took him to the clinic where the vet confirmed the seizures were actually heart attacks and Shorty had cognitive heart failure. She gave my mom medication and I hoped that would’ve extended his life.

They found him dead in his sleep. My brother buried him in the backyard with my other dog, Missy, from a long time ago.

While I mourned the loss of my puppy, I tried to explain it to Bear. He didn’t understand the concept of life and death quite yet and it was hard to explain it to him in a way that made sense. I told him that Shorty was in heaven, and that we wouldn’t be seeing him again when we go see Grandma and Grandpa.

He looked at me a bit quizzically and then went back to playing on his iPad.

When Bear woke up from his nap and saw me working on this very post and the accompanying pictures of Shorty, I explained to him again that he died and went to heaven.

“Oh no,” he softly replied and frowned.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

He shook his head and I turned on the TV so we can watch Cousins for Life. 

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As I found temporary relief that he didn’t press any further, I was caught into wondering if this is merely the beginning of discussing death with my young child. After all, death is a part of life. It’s a guarantee just like taxes.

I don’t remember my first encounter with death as a child. I remember other factors like a family pet dying, or even a distant family member passing away, but I can’t really recall  the first experience. Maybe I blocked it out, or maybe I was just so super young, I honestly don’t remember.

I don’t know if my parents ever gave me a talk about life and death. I also don’t know if I just figured it out on my own. Talking to a child  in the world of social media,  where trending topics can often decide what’s real or what’s fake, I don’t want Bear to be influenced by what death is and what it’s not.

Still, explaining life and death, heaven and earth (not sure if we’ll get to the hell part but hopefully Bear will figure that part on his own), will forever be a conversation in our home. Bear knows about Ethan, but he doesn’t quite understand why we visit him at the cemetery and why he’s not here.

I researched on Amazon a number of books about explaining death to a child and I’m not sure if I’m ready to pick up one. We already have a book for Bear that was very hard for us to read when I was pregnant with him and he has yet to see it.

Maybe when we go visit my parents in a week or so, and Bear sees Shorty isn’t around, maybe he’ll understand then. And I have to be prepared for his reaction no matter what.

Le sigh…this was a lesson I wasn’t expecting so soon to teach and for Bear to learn. Does anyone have any tips?

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Choosing a Good School is so Elementary.

The current issue that is stressing us the fuck out plaguing our family right now is where to send Bear to elementary school. We’re not talking for a year. We’re talking something he’ll like for five years or more.

While we were assigned to a school, it’s not one that we want to send Bear to. The Great Schools rating is lower than hell, and some online reviews of said school have mentioned  bullying isn’t curbed. Not to mention, we don’t really want to send our child to a school that is predominantly any race for the fear of he would be bullied.

We lucked out with his preschool and how diverse it is. Bear has a Muslim best friend and a Latino one. He’s very friendly with children of other races and he’s not the only biracial child at the school. He has friends who have gay parents, parents of all socio-economic classes, and it was all love between us. I loved that school because everyone was celebrated and I hope our next child will be able to attend it.

Elementary school, however, is a different ball game.

We live in Pasadena, but we’re well within L.A. County. We also have the option of school choice, meaning we can send Bear to any school of our liking as long as we apply within the deadline, which is coming up very soon.

Once we decided we weren’t going to send Bear to the clusterfuck of not a great school near us, now it became a question of exactly where to send him. LA Unified is currently under strike and that is weighed heavily on our minds. Do we want to risk sending Bear to school when it was better off we homeschool him if there’s a strike?

Now, we do incorporate lessons at home. We’re subscribed to ABCmouse.com, and that has been a huge help. Maks is teaching Bear Ukrainian and I’m helping Bear with some Spanish lessons and perfecting his English.

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Our home Spanish lesson plan.

We also do activities and Bear is learning how to write his name. The goal is for him to fully write his first and last name and do a little bit of math before he starts kindergarten in August.

We’re stuck between choosing an excellent public school that’s a few miles away, a private Quaker school that’s nearby, or charter/magnet school that’s also a bit of a distance.

The pressure is on this time because whatever school we choose, we want Bear there for the whole duration of said school, be it K-5 or K-8. These are friendships he will have forever. We also want him to have a quality education and not some teacher who will spend just a few seconds with Bear before they have to move onto the next student.

Decisions, decisions.

Honestly, we’ve been looking at elementary schools since Bear was born, LOL, but our recent move last year did put us into a tailspin. We already decided on one school, only for us to possibly for him not to attend it (it was close to us then but it’s a distance from us now).

I am confident we’ll choose a great school for Bear and that he’ll thrive in it. I think worrying is the worst part.

For the parents, what advice can you give us?

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Oh yeah, that giveaway

So, last week I mentioned I was giving away a little care package courtesy of Munchkin. Well, life happened (hubby returned from Ukraine with gifts, but that’s another post later this week), and I didn’t get a chance to do the giveaway.

Now, here it is!

I received this from Bear’s school and had two of them. Obviously, we don’t need two so I’m giving one away to a lucky follower! All you have to do is answer this question:

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve received since your LO has been here?

That’s all!

I’ll choose the best answer and will contact the winner to arrange shipping (I’m shipping with no cost to you!).

Please leave your email when you answer.

Good luck to all! Happy 4th!

Join Me at the Mixed Remixed Festival Tomorrow!

If you’re in the L.A. area, please stop by and hang out for a bit. Meet some wonderful people and watch me speak on Parenting and Protecting your Mixed Race Kids from Bullying (wow, that’s a mouthful!). I’ll share my perspective from being bullied as a parent of a mixed-race child and the steps I’m doing to protect Bear. IMG_9280

 

 

Why My Son Has His Own IG Page

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Courtesy of me. Bear’s IG is @bogdanbear

There’s often a debate on how much a child should be exposed on the world wide innanets when he has no say in that exposure. Some parents are very private with their children and you rarely see a pic of them. Some are like, ‘Hey, you want see a picture. I have 19797893423 of them. Here you go!’

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Some parents decided their kids should have their own IG. I, for one, agree with this.

Yes, it might sound nuts. Why does a baby/toddler/child need their own IG page? Well, if the parent is known for something, I can see the kids having their own site so if people are interested in seeing photos or keeping up to date with them, they could just go there. A lot of celebrity parents do this and it makes sense, if you think about it.

Of course, I’m not a celebrity. Hell, I’m not even web famous. So why does Bear have his own IG?

Well, for starters, his daddy is a photographer. So Maks often test drives certain camera angles, lenses, etc. on Bear.

In addition to Maks being a photographer, Bear often accompanies him to different photo shoots where other photographers take photos of Bear:

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Courtesy of Ian Zamorano @heychamo
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Courtesy of Andre Garcia @darth_nikon
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Courtesy of David King @iamdavidking
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Courtesy of Harold Gonzales @haroldjbgonzales
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Courtesy of Jesse Cleare III, @therdchild
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Courtesy of Lisa Marie @love.lisamariee
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Courtesy of Ashia Anderson @rougebaladi

Courtesy of Michael Castro, @kaotical24, http://www.kaotical24.com

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Courtesy of Robyn Cherry, @robynfcherry

I also tend to do vlogs and hair product reviews on Bear’s hair so it would be nice for him to have a page that’s just dedicated to him. Though, I’m slacking on updating it (it’s really brand new) but I hope I’ll start adding more pictures to it very soon.

Now, of course, there’s the issue of protection and privacy. There’s a reason why I don’t post pictures of Bear in his diapers and underwear. I also carefully monitor who is following me and his page.

Bear has already a small fan club forming from the likes of LAFC, the LA Metro system, and even the mayor, Eric Garcetti, commented that Bear had swag.

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So, what are your thoughts? Are you Team #PicsAllDayEeryDay or are you #Nahbruh?