In the hotel pool away for the weekend, the kids were splashing around, playing together when amidst the giggles I heard:
“okay, now you’re the drowned one and I have to bring you to the shore but then you were dead”
Immediately, I was struck with the need to give Olivia one of those stern looks that said ‘get your butt out of that water and get over here while we have a chat about how your sister drowning is not a game to play’. I wanted to explain to her the awful, sadness, horrifying thought of her sister, or any child, drowning in the pool and how it wasn’t a game that we should be playing in the middle of the toddler pool.
Before I could compose the ‘right’ way to react, the ‘right’ thing to say, the look over to Jamie to see how he reacted to the same thing, how he gauged the situation, they were off, playing in the Mermaid Cove at the other end of the toddler pool.
They moved on, while I was still composing my reaction to the awful thing that I just witnessed. Drowned toddler in the pool seemed so much worse than the girls favorite summer game with the neighbor kid, where Olivia’s first husband died and now she was on to round two, with Alex.
They moved on.
I was still thinking about it. Between zombies invading tea parties, playing ‘drowned toddlers’ in the pool and barbies who died at the bottom of the bathtub-cum-lake, and they were on to the next game.
“Preschool children mostly see death as temporary, reversible and impersonal. In stories they read or watch characters will often suddenly rise up alive again after being totally destroyed. It’s not surprising they don’t understand, yet it is appropriate for their age level to think this way.” via Child Development Info
Despite the fact that I was a little horrified at the thought of their game, a quick Google search reminded me that kids playing games highlighting death is completely normal as part of their play, jarring… but normal.