3am: the perfect time to talk about death.

flea age 7

The annoying thing about crucial parenting moments is the way they sneak up on you. I think you should get a letter 48 hours in advance that says, “On Tuesday you will be required to explain the concept of death to a four year old. You may not refer to your notes during the examination.”

Unfortunately, you’re more likely to wake up at 3am to find that four year old lying in bed with you, bright little eyes boring into your skull.

“Did you know, lots of Mummies and Daddies die,” Flea tells me, in the exact same voice she uses to say, “I know how to spell cat.” 

“Oh. What?” (my vocabulary shrinks by 60% with each hour after midnight)

“Natasha told me her Mummy and Daddy died.”

“Didn’t Natasha’s Mummy just have twins?”

“No, they are dead.”

“I don’t think so, honey. I am pretty sure her Mummy just had babies.” 

“Natasha told me they are definitely dead. They are. Lots of people have dead parents.”

Cheerful. I try to gather my thoughts.

“We’ve talked about this. With a bit of luck, most people don’t die until they’re really old. Then their bodies stop working and they die, and new people are born. Right?”


There’s a silence. I feel myself sliding back into unconsciousness, when Flea sits bolt upright, and says “Oh!” in a voice that suggests it’s all just slotted into place in her brain.

“Huh?” I mutter.

“Grandma will die quite soon, then, I expect.”

I pretend to be asleep. Sorry Mum.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *