That in mind, now seems a pretty pertinent time – given 'the virus' – to start discussing these things with my daughter. "This is all particularly relevant during the pandemic where death is all over the news every day," notes Samuel. "In one way that's useful because it's making us more aware of our own mortality, but for children, we need to sit down and talk to them about what it is."
So I've started reading some of these books to my daughter now. Not usually before bed, as per Samuel's advice, but after dinner to give her time to ask questions. Which she does with soul-penetrating gusto: When are you dying, daddy? Will a big bad wolf eat you? Why is your granny dead? Are all the rats friends with each other?
And at least now, for most of those questions, I have an answer (respectively: I don't know; it's always possible; her heart stopped; of course they do!).
As for her first question back in the summer: "Yes, I will die someday, like Badger, Fred, Snowman and the Paper Dolls. But that's OK, because while we're here we still have love and love is like starlight – even though some stars died many years ago, on a clear night, they still twinkle on, like diamonds in the sky."
I know she's still too young to fully understand the complexities of existence. But then, despite having had three more decades to think about it, I'm not sure I do either. Maybe I'm the donkey, after all.
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