And my three-year-old got very serious and told her, "Baby, you could DIE. If that bell went down your throat and got stuck you could die. And then we'd have to bury you in the dirt. Like Sparkles (our late goldfish), underneath the rock out front. And then...," he paused, considering the enormity of that hypothecial loss -- the full weight of her death -- he let out a low groan and a half-sob and every-so-earnestly told her, "and then we wouldn't have OUR BABY anymore."
"NO!" she said, and ran away giggling and jingling until I caught her and pried the wretched thing out of her mouth.
"NO! Bad you, Mommy!" she said, stamping her foot. "I no like you, Mama!"
A few things:
I keep hearing that "Three is the new two." As someone with a three year old and a two year old, OMG three is not two. Three-year-olds do have occasional tantrums and they are highly distractable, but they never crap their pants and they are HEAPS more reasonable and rational than the NO-sayers that are two-year olds. They understand, for example, the concept of mortality.
Also, when the crap-snot did that boy get so smart? We had a lot of goldfish drama this time last-year when, mind you, he was only two, and I thought that his older sister understood that Sparkles was gone forever but surely the concept sailed way over his head. Apparently not. Pets do teach kids about death. In a healthy way, I think.
I remember taking the loss of Sparkles very hard, not because I cared so deeply about the goldfish but because I knew that her passing was a lesson about mortality for very young children and so it was the end of an innocence.
And also because she died on December 25th. So that was the first thing my daughter saw when she got up on Christmas morning -- her goldfish swimming funny with a note from Santa Claus taped to her tank explaining that he brought her 5 gallons of pure North Pole melted snow for her next water change.
So this year my daughter wants hermit crabs. And I'm like, ugh, I know I'll just have to clean up their poo and then one day they'll die. And I'll be disproportionately sad about it. Because I know it will make my children sad. And it makes me sad that they have to be sad ever.
But they do.
And now, a Christmas Carol by my three year old:
A monster try to eat our baby!
Wham! Bam! Oof! Bam! Bam! Pow! (a long chorus, with much simulated monster-fighting)
Now the monster is punched dead and our baby is happy again!