“I don’t want the white boy to die!”

by doodaddy on September 26, 2008

Boo’s starting to listen to lyrics.

One of our favorite songs (of course) is the classic Play That Funky Music (White Boy), which climaxes on a bass riff to the lyric:

“Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you DIE.”

(Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.)

“Till you DIIIIYEEEE!”

My daughter has only just started to investigate death, mostly owing to an unfortunate experience smooshing a favorite baby ladybug. We also pulled over (at her insistence) the other day to take a closer look at (and smell of) a road-killed skunk. I don’t honestly know what’s going on for her when she witnesses these deaths, but I know there’s something in there: she kept asking when the skunk will wake up, and then saying it was sad to be dead. And the ladybug still comes up in conversation sometimes, three weeks later.

Fast forward to our most recent playing of the Wild Cherry hit: Boo was dancing and singing along as usual when she pulled herself up short. Her head was literally cocked to one side like the curious-dog cliche.

I love her grammar these days, although it can be a little hard to follow: translating slightly, she asked, “When will the white boy have to die?”

Hm. Where to go with this one? Lie, and tell her that they’re actually singing ‘tie’? Bring up the reversibility-of-death thing that children apparently still believe until they’re five or six?

I decided to go with the metaphor angle: I explained that in this case, ‘die’ means “be really, really tired because he’d been playing the bass guitar for so long under the hot lights with everyone looking at him.” I know, it was a lame answer, and Boo didn’t really buy it, but she let it pass, albeit with a slightly grey face.

Later, I took that song out of our playlist: a reminder to myself that Boo’s entering an age where she can make mental connections by herself and take them very, very seriously.

Maybe it’s because I took care of animals for so long, or maybe I just get overly involved with all the feeding, exercising, sleeping, and cleaning of a little body: sometimes I forget there’s a very human mind in there that needs just as much attention as any physical need.

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tagged as , in dancing,failure,teaching ·

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyddryn September 26, 2008 at 6:37 pm

On Wednesday, out of the blue, the Evil Genius asked Mum about one of her cats that died a few months ago – he wanted to know how Skidmarks died (yes, that was really the cat’s name), and what happened to him.

How the heck do you explain feline kidney failure and euthanasia to a five-year-old?

We managed, just…but it was a reminder that kids don’t forget or let go like we do; they process over time and with repetition, by examining an idea from every angle and questioning it over and again until they think they understand.

Shade and Sweetwater,


AMR September 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Xav asked many difficult questions about death for months before finally breaking down one night and screaming, “I don’t want you to die” to Doc and I. Tough, tough night.

So many hard topics yet to cover . . . when do they leave home again?


doodaddy September 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm

@AMR – Yeah, totally. Except sometimes I find those hard question days the best — the days when my brain is actually useful, not just my carrying arms and cleaning-up-after hands.


Elaine October 2, 2008 at 8:42 pm

LOL! The first time my daughter said house was to that song, Brick House… She’s a Brick House, She’s mighty, mighty… She said it just right, too. My in-laws were here and we just cracked up! It was great.

Being pastors, our kids have grown up going to funerals. You would be shocked t the number they have been to. Each time we just try to explain our beliefs that they are gone from here, but they (their souls) are still somewhere else.


doodaddy October 8, 2008 at 2:30 am

@Elaine – It’s certainly a tough topic, pastors or no. Sure, we go on, but does that mean we shouldn’t grieve? Should we be happy when we lose someone? I know I’d want people dancing (to “Brick House,” even!) at my funeral, but that doesn’t lessen the pain for those left behind.

Kristin’s a PK, too, you know, so this isn’t the first time this has come up… it’s hard enough for adults, I can’t imagine how kids manage. Natural resilience, I suppose!


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