Dealing With Death



I’ve been struggling to help the twins get comfortable with the concept of Death (as much as anyone could get comfortable with that), ever since a few years ago when a  well-intentioned relative told them that everyone else in her family was dead.

“What is ‘dead’?” Halle & Zanna wondered.

When they became more informed on the subject, they were aghast and terrified.

They thought that they were in immediate danger of suddenly dropping dead, or that mommy & daddy would.

There have been many tears shed over this.

Holidays like Passover (Hello Angel of Death and dead babies!), Easter (Hello tortured and crucified Jesus!), school fundraisers for juvenile congenital heart defects (Hello nice video shown in school about dying children!) and one elderly pet goldfish (Thank you for your hunger strike!) have done nothing to help me keep my kids’ minds off of this morbid subject.

Yes, I’m aware of the Circle Of Life, the food chain and all that jazz, thank you very much!  But that doesn’t do much to comfort my kids.

I’m Jewish but teetering between agnostic and atheist, so it basically amounts to me telling them fairy tales about how there is a benevolent God out there who loves them, Jesus their distant cousin (a very nice Jewish boy from Galilee, don’t ya know!) and angels and Heaven.

Apparently I did too good of a job describing (potentially mythical) Heaven, because Halle was all for joining our dearly departed goldfish post haste.  So I told her that she has to wait her turn for when God decides she needs to go, and line-cutters need not apply.  Those go to the other place.  The Hot Place (where homophobes, terrorists and cult leaders go).  So she’s ok to wait her turn now.

But every so often the girls still ask about dying.  Am I SURE there’s really a Heaven and that there’s eternal life?  ”Sure!” I reply, lying through my teeth.  I’ve explained that their body is a meatsuit (Thank you Supernatural!) that their soul wears until it’s learned all that God wants it to before going to Heaven.  And as long as we keep our meatsuits healthy and stay safe (by listening to mommy & daddy) we’ll live a long, long time.

But then, last week, we had a Passover celebration at Shabbat school.  A presentation was made by the teachers about the Angel of Death killing all the Egyptian babies (Gee, thank you SO much!) and my kids came home traumatized.

Angel of Death.  Killing babies.  What’s not to like?


So I explained that the Egyptians in those days (and I apologize profusely to anyone who may be offended by this) didn’t feed their babies healthy food because they were rich and spoiled, so the babies got sick, whereas the Hebrews were slaves and couldn’t afford junk food and they fed their kids healthy stuff, so those babies didn’t get sick.

And the Angel of Death certainly did NOT kill any babies at all, whatsoever!  He just collected the souls of the ones who died so he could take them straight to the nursery in Heaven where the babies could play and be happy and meet their ancestors.

Otherwise, there would be babies crawling all over the place, crying, pooping, getting stepped on by everyone else, Oy! What chaos that would be!  So the Angel of Death is merely being helpful!

My girls thought that was a very good idea indeed!  Babies, after all, belong in nurseries being cared for, and not crawling around loose all over the place.

And then came the video at school about children dying of congenital heart defects.  I have a cousin who died as a child from a heart defect.

Zanna couldn’t sleep at night because she was afraid she’d die of a heart defect.  She was in tears about it.  I had to explain that A) she did not have a heart defect, and B) even if she or mommy & daddy did drop their meatsuits and go to Heaven, Heaven was a nice place full of nice people who love us, and we could still visit whomever we love, even if they can’t see us.

Halle is utterly convinced about how nice a place Heaven is, and keeps telling me how eager she is to go there. (Oy vey!)  So I have to keep reminding her about line-cutters and the Very Hot Place.

And while I’m spinning these lovely tales of the afterlife, I’ve got no idea if any of it’s true or not.  Maybe someday the girls will come to the conclusion that it’s all on the same level as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and part of the magic of childhood to believe in such things, or they might decide that religion makes sense for them.  Either way, I’m ok.  As long as it’s a good experience for them and hurts no one, then I see no harm in anyone’s belief about anything.


Crepes pour deux

It’s been awhile since the last time we did parent/child dates, and for some reason both the girls had their hearts set on crepes, so it was off to IHOP we went!



On Saturday, Halle and I went – she ordered the strawberry crepes (shown above) and since I didn’t think she’d manage to eat everything (which means mommy has to eat the leftovers) so I ordered a kiddie breakfast for myself.  It was a good thing I’d planned ahead, because I ended up eating about 25% of her breakfast!

We had originally wanted to play ‘Chutes & Ladders’ while we ate, but they only gave us a teensy table.  Since it was pretty busy at that time, we just ate and left.

Then I brought her, since she’s a geek like me, to a comic book shop and steered her toward the family-friendly rack.  Nope.  She wasn’t having any of that.  She wanted a ‘big girl’ comic and insisted I check over the less gory ones she wanted.  After finding nothing but gratuitous sex and gore, I convinced her that family-friendly was the way to go, and luckily we found a relatively tame Ultimate Spiderman and a nice Scooby-Doo Team-up with Batman & Robin!

Then it was a Star Trek comic for me (which Halle will probably commandeer at some point) and we picked up a Strawberry Shortcake and a Mickey Mouse for Zanna.

At the register we had a Teachable Moment.  There were plastic busts of Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.  Halle asked which was my favorite.


I said Wonder Woman (of course) and she asked me why.  I told her that I didn’t think it was fair that the male figures got to wear nice warm clothes, but that Wonder Woman was forced to wear such skimpy clothes and it looked like she was so cold! “That’s what we call gender-based discrimination, honey.  Can you say that?”  ”Gender-based disbriminator!”  ”Good job, honey!”

And we walked out, heads held high past the bemused (female – they should KNOW better!) counter clerks.

Then it was off to home.

On Sunday, It was Zanna’s turn for crepes with mommy, so we went EXTRA early this time – sure enough, IHOP was half empty so I requested a larger table so we could spread out the ‘Chutes & Ladders’ game board.  Zanna ordered the blueberry crepes plate (just as big as Halle’s) and again I resigned myself to the kiddie plate, just in case.


We managed a good two games – she won once and I won once, but the real fun was in watching her eat her crepes.  (Halle’s style had been what I call “The Waterfall”.  She held the long dangling crepe high above her mouth and chomped from the bottom.)



Zanna’s technique is what I’d call “Python Eating Mouse”.  She’d meticulously cut a long strip of crepe, stick one end in her mouth and slowly, bite by bite, draw the crepe into her mouth, like a python eating a mouse bit by bit with the tail hanging out and slowly disappearing.  She even did cute little snake wiggles in her seat as she ate.

I was pretty glad I’d finished my food earlier, because it was quite off-putting to watch.  She looked SO happy doing it though!  She insisted on taking her time because “If it tastes really good, you should take your time so you can enjoy it longer!”

When she’d finally finished devouring her meal, we went to Trader Joe’s for the grocery shopping and HUZZAH!!! We clocked in at just under $85! (our goal is under $100, so ‘Yay us!’)

Then it was home again.

Mommy a.k.a. The Food Disposal Unit



Losing weight.  The baby weight.  You’d think with all the running around after the kids that we do, and all the exhaustion we feel that we’d all be as slim and sleek as mink.


So we try juicing, we try this diet, and that diet, we exercise our (not so) little tired tushies off, but the weight keeps piling on!

So we try eating smaller portions at mealtimes and snacks – why the heck isn’t this &*&%^$^#%%&* weight coming off?!

Hang on a moment, the kids have finished dinner and I’ve got to clean that up.  Here, just let me finish drinking that half-drunk milk or juice, because I certainly can’t pour it back into the bottle, and throwing it down the drain is such a waste!  People are starving in some countries, musn’t waste!  Excuse me, I’m still chewing that last quarter of a meal per child that they left on their plate.  No use saving and reheating, the kids won’t eat it and it’ll be pretty unappetizing by then.  In this economy, you just shouldn’t waste good food.

Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, I’ve got no idea why I’m not losing weight – I’m doing everything right!!

Wait.  What?




Heh heh :)

So then I tried just eating very very tiny portions and waiting to eat more when the kids were finally done, but it takes so long while they dawdle at the table and it seems as though having Mommy staring at their food like a lioness eyeing a plump wildebeest is kind of off-putting for juvenile appetites.

Who knew?

So I tried waiting to eat until the kids were done eating, but it’s so boooooooring sitting at the table…and then we still have the hungry lioness effect.  Hmmm…..maybe I’d better go do something else in the meantime….and there goes family bonding/social time over meals.


Ya know, it’s not a matter of appetite suppressants, it’s dealing with the issue of not wasting food.  Not wasting money.  We pack on so many 2nd-hand food pounds, and really we’d much rather prefer eating fresh, hot, un-drooled-over, un-halfway-chewed food.

How do some of you deal with this?  Please leave a comment below :)

The Tiny Terror of 1st Grade

Seems like I’m having to write a number of emails to the counselor of the elementary school my twins attend.

Here’s the latest one:

(*”Nellie’s” name has been changed and is not her real one.)

Hi Mrs. S,

I’m pretty steamed about this.

For awhile there, I thought we were doing pretty well with the “Nellie”* situation, Halle even received an invite to “Nellie’s” birthday party!

But today Halle informed me that “Nellie has reminded her once AGAIN (the last time was a few months ago) that she intends to travel to our apartment, break in and break all of Halle’s Dora the Explorer DVDs and the DVDs of any other show that “Nellie” thinks are “for babies”. (and yes, I’ve told Halle how improbable it is that “Nellie” could actually carry out such a thing, but Halle is afraid, nonetheless.)

Halle also has been letting me know on an almost weekly basis for the past month that “Nellie” has been telling her that The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus and Easter Bunny aren’t real, that it’s the mom that puts out all the presents and lies about it to the kids.

I told Halle to just tell “Nellie” to stop trying to ruin her fun, but “Nellie” is not so easily dissuaded. Since Halle has done her best to deal with this situation on her own, and the situation has once again devolved into “Nellie” threatening Halle, I’m now escalating it to you.

Look, I don’t know who ruined a big part of the fun of childhood for “Nellie, but that does not give her the right to try and undermine what I tell my kids.

I’ve done my best to circle around the issue because I do not want to lie to Halle if she ever, of her own volition, asks me if those characters are real or not, but I do not count this as Halle excercising her agency, but being coerced by peer pressure/bullying.

And I really resent being constantly put in this position!

I’ve mentioned it to you before and I’ll say it again – someone should seriously look into “Nellie’s” homelife. It seems like she’s having such a miserable experience of childhood that she’s acting out by trying to make other children miserable by crushing any innocent happy enjoyment of childhood experiences for them. “Nellie” is obviously not dealing too well with something in her life and is taking it out on Halle. Some kind of intervention is needed for “Nellie”. Is it really appropriate for a threat-making child like this who so resents others’ happiness to be placed in a class without additional supervision?

I would prefer to avoid confronting “Nellie’s” parents, or having to tell Halle that “Nellie” is dealing with unresolved emotional/mental issues, but this child does not have the right to ruin things for Halle, Zanna, my husband and I, the twins’ grandparents (all five of them), 14 uncles/aunts, 1 godmother, and 1 grand-aunt, and a number of older cousins (we’re not counting the Japanese grandaunts/granduncles).

The entire family is pretty upset by this! This will spoil a lot of the fun of family holidays. I even have a friend that sometimes calls the girls up pretending to be one of the characters, and my brother D. calls up all his nieces pretending to be Santa Claus every year!

I would really like for this to be substantially resolved before March 21st, which is the RSVP date for “Nellie’s” birthday party.

Short notice, I know, but the repeated threat was made today.

Like I said, I, and many others in my family are pretty steamed by this situation.

I appreciate your taking the time to read all of this. I know that you will give it the time and attention it needs so that my children are not further traumatized by this unhappy child and that “Nellie” can get the help and support she obviously is in desperate need of.

Lara N



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