Ok. You all remember the story of Taco the hamster? If you want to get reacquainted you can read about it here. Riley was 10 when we got her, and he was pretty happy to finally have his very own pet. We live in a no-pets-allowed zone, but we decided to bend the rules and let him get a pet that stayed in a cage.
Well…kind of stayed in a cage. The dude liked to break out! You can read the story of me searching around my house in the middle of the night to find the escapee here.
Anyways, Riley loved and adored this little rodent. And even though I joked in my previous posts and wondered how long they lived, I really was so so sad when Ry came up to me Friday night with tears in his eyes and said she had died.
As I was thinking about jobs that we as parents have, and the way I try to dedicate Monday to encouraging other parents, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how to handle things when your child’s pet dies.
Parenting is hard, peeps! And there are so many different aspects to it that it’s hard to keep focused on what we need to do in all of it. I thought of 2 important things we can do as parents when your child’s pet dies.
One important thing we can do as parents is this:
Take your child seriously. I love to joke around, and I am almost always sarcastic, so it’s very easy to just brush things off and make light of things. I am also not that mom who gasps every time her child bumps his knee and goes to comfort and encourage emotional breakdowns.
But in the case of a pet dying, I think it is very important to show your child how much HIS feelings mean. Adam and I were both every emotional in all of this, and trust me…it was not because we love rodents! But it was because Riley means so much to us, and when he hurts? We hurt.
So we decided to have a hamster funeral. We let Riley pick a spot outside, dug a grave and gathered together to talk about our favorite memories. Death is hard, even when it is a pet. And we wanted to show Riley that we take him seriously, and we take his feelings seriously.
Another important thing we can do as parents is this:
Be honest. There is no point lying to Riley and trying to soothe his pain by telling him that Taco is in hamster heaven. It can be a good time to talk about how God always values life, because he created it. God valued Taco. But God values human life even more, and God values Riley. God values Riley because God created him, and he knows every single tear that Ry is crying.
So we said so long to good ole Taco. Thanks for the memories, the laughs, the frustrations and the hundreds of dollars in duct tape we had to invest in. And my sweet boy buried his little pet. Hugged his daddy. And he is moving on.
Don’t even ask if we are getting another one. I’m not emotionally ready for that yet. ha!