Remember our goldfish Timmy Boomda? Well I just discovered his lifeless body floating in the fish bowl. I'm not going to pretend I'm sad. Cleaning out the fish bowl is now one less job on my already too long 'to do' list. Of course the death of a pet always inevitably leads to a series of difficult questions from the smaller members of the family. Here is a little look at what occurred when the kids discovered the body…
Minty: mummy, Timmy has laid down properly to go to sleep
Me: Darling, Timmy is dead. He's not ever going to wake up.
Minty: I don't mind… I'm not going to die.
Me: Well… actually… everyone dies at some point.
Minty: Sometimes daddy dies… and he wakes back up
Me: Daddy isn't actually dead. He just sleeps very heavily sometimes
and a little later…
Minty: I don't know where Timmy is.
Me: He's right there, dead, floating at the top of his bowl.
Minty: but where is he?
From her tone and emphasis, my best interpretation of this is that she was asking about the thing that made Timmy alive instead of dead, the essence of him, his soul. My internal response (you know the one your head forms before you open your mouth) was 'shit I don't know. I don't think fish have souls'. Frankly I'm not geared for philosophical enquiries before I've had a morning coffee. Instead I chose to pretend I didn't understand what she was asking and merely repeated myself, 'see he's floating there dead in the bowl'. I wonder how many more probing questions I'm going to answer in a severely inadequate way as a parent. Probably too many to bear thinking about.
If you're wondering what Turi was doing during all of this, he was basically dancing about with a big grin on his face, tossing pinches of fish food into the bowl. Clearly it hasn't raised any existential questions for him!