The Dead Bird
My children went through a period where they made me the
preacher for a series of funerals that took place on the then empty
(now with a trailor on it--I hope the owners don't dig deeply) lot
next door. We buried everything from a pet clam (yep, clam) to a
snake that was run over (I was tasked with picking that one up). If
you have youngsters you may very well have been asked to help with the
proper disposal of a goldfish and. (Don't even think of the toilet
unless you sneak out and buy an identical replacement.)
It's how kids process concepts. And they will incorporate what
they perceive of their world (even what we try to shield them from)
into their daily life. No one got this better than Margaret Wise
Brown. Luckily for today's parents, her The Dead Bird has been
reissued with lovely illustrations by Christian Robinson.
Some children encounter a dead bird.
"The children were very sorry that the bird was dead. But they were
glad they had found it, because now they could dig a grave in the
woods and bury it. They could even have a funeral and sing to it the
way grown-up people did when someone died."
Everything they do is careful and thoughtful, digging a hole, wrapping
the bird in ferns and flowers, singing, providing a stone, and
planting flowers around it.
If you have young children, they are bound to encounter death
before you are ready for them to, especially if you share your abode
with animal companions. (Hint: goldfish are a very bad choice). The
Dead Bird is a wonderful read aloud for stimulating discussion and
validating feelings. It's a must acquire for public and school
Lynn Plourde, author of Maxi's Secrets, made an insightful
observation about reader response to her book. Only adult readers
expressed anger in regard to Maxi's death. (Mea culpa). Child
readers acknowledged the sadness of the event and shared stories of
the pets they had lost.
Kids, it seems, can understand and cope with a lot more than we
give them credit for.
On a personal note, I will be cutting church tomorrow for the most
wonderful reason--a family picnic. Katie is in the neighborhood for a
friend's wedding. So we'll all get together tomorrow in Webster
Park. I didn't know about this til yesterday. You'd better believe
I'm on cloud nine!
A great big shout out goes to my wonderful family!
Sent from my iPod