Tag Archives: toddlers

Learning About Death One Moment At A Time

On Nov. 9, 2010 an amazing woman died. Her name was Danyale Ellis and she was my friend. Last weekend was her funeral and I wondered, do I bring Logan or is that inappropriate?

Hubby was out of town and I really wanted to attend Danyale’s funeral. She was only 38 years old and one of those people that the rest of us strive to be. She was successful, but not in a nauseating way, because she was humble. What I liked best is that she was very understanding. She understood my hectic life and never made me feel bad for not doing something, she simply cherished what I could. That’s rare.

We were both in the same sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and before you judge, it’s not the kind of sorority where cheerleading pixies prance around in an oversized white house. It’s a predominantly black sorority dedicated to public service. (Though admittedly there’s former cheerleaders in our midst too…) Danyale and I met in the alumnae chapter.

It was important to me that I pay my respects, but I was failing at finding a sitter for Logan. Would it be weird to bring my boisterous boy to a funeral? What if he had a colossal meltdown in the middle of a tear-jerking eulogy? Saturday morning I decided I would regret not trying to attend the funeral more than regret an ill-timed tantrum.

On the way to the services, I started to lay out my expectations of Logan, telling him we were going to a funeral and he was to be quiet, if he wanted to talk to me it was to be in a whisper. He asked me what’s a funeral. I paused, I had been so obsessed with figuring out the logistics of getting to the funeral I didn’t even think about how it would mean talking about death with my 3 year old.

We’ve talked a little bit about how things die, but I suppose I figured the bigger talks would come after a goldfish died and we had a ceremony to flush it down the toilet like the Huxtables. So in the car, we talked about people dying, what it meant and how it can make us sad because we will miss the people who died, but that they’re OK. The main thing he wanted to know afterward was “why?”

Such a small word, such a big question. I didn’t delve into a circle-of-life diatribe a la Lion King, I simply said: “I don’t know, God decides that.” Thankfully that seemed to answer the question good enough.

We went to the funeral and he was spectacular, quietly played with his miniature cars in the pew and whispering so low I could barely hear him. The service was moving and whenever I felt the tears well up, I’d give Logan a squeeze and draw some strength from him. I was glad he was with me.

When talking to Hubby on the phone that night, Logan excitedly grabbed the phone and said: “Daddy! Guess what? Somebody DIED today!

“What?!?” Hubby asked.

“We went to Danyale’s funeral.” I said into the phone and heard his sigh of relief.

It looks like I’ll get my Huxtable moment after all.

Road Tripping with a Toddler

This past weekend my family went on a road trip to the University of Missouri, which is where Hubby and I met. It was a nice jaunt down memory lane, but the most challenging part was getting there.

Going on a road trip with a little one is no walk in the park. You try to pack everything you’ll need without over packing, which to me seems like mission impossible, but I try. You plan for spills, bathroom accidents, play activities and meltdowns (for mama and babe!)

It took us about seven and a half hours to get there. It’s normally a six and a half hour drive, but between the tot and me being six months pregnant, we had to make a few stops. I think we hit four McDonald’s solely on the way down to Mizzou to visit our niece. On the return trip, I vowed no Mickey D’s, and we managed to avoid the Golden Arches.

The trip to Missouri was our second out-of-state adventure this month. Two weeks ago we went to a wedding in Ames, Iowa. That was a seven hour drive. Not including the kid and mama factor, it’s supposed to be about six. With each escapade I find I’m getting better at prepping for the road and it almost makes me want to go on another excursion in a couple weeks. Almost.

But if you’re headed on a trip:

  • Have your little one pack the toy bag. Logan, like all young kids, really loves to help out, and helping to decide what came on the trip gave him a sense of ownership.
  • Eat Lunch in the Car. If you don’t bring along any nosh that’s more than snacks, swing through the drive thru. It can be messy to eat in the car, but I thought it was worth it. It took us longer to get to Iowa because every time we stopped to eat, we also took a play break where we ran around and stretched our legs. I found that if we ate in the car, then our breaks were purely for play and the 45 minutes to one hour breaks were shortened to 20-30 minutes.
  • Nap Time. Take advantage. Pretend it’s like when they’re an infant, sleep when they sleep. Also, figure out the timing so that the adults don’t need to take their own potty break when it’s nap time. Like I told Hubby, now that Logan’s asleep, we’re not stopping for anything.

How Young Is Too Young For the Movies?

We’ve all been there. It’s 11 o’clock at night, you’ve got your extra buttered popcorn and Diet Coke. The theater’s lights darken, the previews are finally over and you’re about to see the highly anticipated, budget-busting blockbuster of the summer. Then, from two rows away you hear a scared voice: “Mommy? Why’s it so dark?”

Groan. Someone brought their kid to the movies.

I get it. Well no I don’t, but I get wanting to get out of the house to catch a flick like you used to before becoming a parent. But reality check: You are a parent. Yet that doesn’t mean your movie-watching days are over or that they’re on pause for 18 years.

Some theaters offer “Family Day” where they dim the lights and lower the sound on the first matinee of the day or on select pictures so parents and rug rats alike can hang at the movies. We tried that twice. When Logan was about three months old we went with a friend and her babe to Enchanted. (In my mama brain I thought we were going to see Golden Compass.) Every time Amy Adams belted out a tune, my guy belted out a shriek. My friend’s sweet babe slept the entire time.

The second time we had a bit more success. He was seven months old, Daddy had the day off and came along as we met with another family to watch the matinee of Vantage Point. Logan made it through about 75 percent of the movie, then got antsy so he and I played out in the lobby.

You can always can wait until your little one is older and see a kid-friendly movie. Logan’s first real movie experience was the 10 a.m. showing of How to Train Your Dragon. He was 2 and a half. We hyped up the movie-going experience, explaining it to him the day before we went. We discussed the importance of sitting down in the chair and being quiet. Also, promises were made for special popcorn.

He watched the show like a pro, except I don’t think he blinked for the first half. He just sat there, riveted. Our friends are movie buffs and take their toddler to kid-friendly shows a lot, so we trust their reviews. They were right, it was the perfect first movie, funny stuff for parents and not scary at all for the little guys. (And no high Cs from Amy Adams!)

So even though you’re a mom, there’s still ways to see movies. If you don’t have a theater that caters to families, see if a friend can watch the little one for a bit or make hubby stay home while you go out. But please, please no late-night scary movies for the little people.