18 November 2007

Social responses, death, and a visit

My in-laws cat has died, another sadness for Jenna and another hard lesson in loss. She seems very interested this time in what other people think of it, and how we are reacting. Martin hadn't really come to terms with it, hadn't taken in what I was saying (he grew up with this cat) and when we went to visit them it was still not really registering.

At the top of the steps down to their house Jenna said, "Everyone dies here." We said that no, of course everyone hasn't died. She argued that one of the guinea pigs had died last month, Larry-boy is dead... At this point Martin started to cry and we had to collect ourselves and give him big hugs before we could make it into the house. Jenna was surprised, Daddy doesn't often cry.

Later in the day she kind of poked him and looking up with that winning smile said, "Daddy - Larry-boy is dead." And then she waited, watching him as if she wanted to see him cry again. I laughed, trying not to of course. She really seemed to be figuring out why sometimes something is really sad and sometimes the same event is OK to think about. Why had Daddy cried like that when he already knew? Why didn't he cry now? She's learning a lot from all this - not the fragility-of-life stuff we thought. But a lot of social rules, and something about context too.

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