We take our kids everywhere with us. Yes, we are those parents. And it’s partly because well, we actually like hanging out with our kids and the other part is that we don’t have anyone to help watch them anyway. So, they go where we go. If they can’t go, then well, we don’t go. Grocery shopping, doctor, dentist, liquor store, wakes…..wait, wakes? Yes, wakes and funerals too. We have since they were born. In a carrier or in their car seat, they were there. Death is unfortunately a part of life. And with large families, it’s a large part. So I believe the sooner, the better really.And here is the most fantastic part of taking them. PEOPLE LOVE IT. Not just the family we are coming to pay our respects to but also those waiting in line. Because it lightens it. It adds a distraction. It makes people remember good moments, happy moments. The kids loudly admire and compliment AND smell all those flowers sent. They look at the pictures and point out the funny ones, say who looks like someone they know, test out every chair and couch, try to drink and eat all the refreshments, pull all the Kleenex out of the boxes…..ok so there are some drawbacks. But in general, it’s all good.
Now remember, you need to prep your kids before going. Because if it’s an open casket, they are going to ask, so prep ahead. My son asked a lot of questions. And the best explanation I could find was that a person’s spirit leaves their body, similar to how smoke rises from wood when it burns. Only we can’t see the person’s s spirit like the smoke but it flies up to heaven. Their body is left behind but their spirit is gone. And what’s spirit? Well that is what controls a person’s body and makes their voice and their thoughts inside their head. When someone dies, those things fly out (like the smoke) and up to heaven. So far that has been enough. He’s almost 7 so we’ll see how much farther we get. It’s really up to you what you want to say. Everyone knows their own kids.
There have been some touching moments……While speaking to the widow of one of our older relatives, Hazel (at age 2), whom I was holding, leaned forward and with her finger on her lips said, “Shhhhhhhh, he’s sleeping.” The widow without missing a beat said “Yes, you’re right, he is, very peacefully.” And gave her a bright smile and a little squeeze.
And there have been some comical moments…..my son at a recent wake kept trying to see down into the bottom of the coffin whispering “Where are his feet? Why don’t we get to see his feet?” For some reason children think keeping their legs covered is strange and I remember my nieces asking the same thing at my grandmother’s wake.
And there have been the hilarious moments. Ok, hilarious NOW. Just this past summer the girls became fully potty trained. And they do really well…..but sometimes have accidents. And so, there we were at a wake and suddenly BOTH girls needed to pee. I said to my husband “They both need to go, take one!” And he said, “No.” Grrrrr……..So, I rushed them down the hall into the bathroom. Hooray! 3 stalls (SIDEBAR – the NICEST bathroom I’ve ever seen in a funeral home). Now here’s where every twin Mom gets the joy of twins. I quickly got the first complainant (aka in twin terms as, the first to voice their need), Hazel, on the toilet, while Violet screamed, “Hurry, HURRY, HURRY”. As I rushed around the door, I heard “It’s too late.” There Violet stood with pee streaming down her legs and forming a river (seriously) towards the drain a foot away. Clearly, SHE should have been the first complainant. The good news is, it was summer and she was wearing a dress with sandals and had managed to miss her dress. Score. Secondly, my super bright child WAS practically standing on a drain. Woot. So I peeked out the door to see….my husband actually, phew, with my son. What? Because now HE also had to pee. Of course he did, join the party! So hubby ran for the backpack and I locked the door.
Lucky for us there was paper towel on the counter AND disinfectant wipes. Seriously, BEST funeral home ever. I folded some paper towel in a dry corner, stripped off the sopping sandals and undies and threw in the sink and stood Vi on the paper towel. Then let hubby in with the backpack. At this point Hazel was furiously screaming “I said, I’M DONE!!!!!” and I decided I should probably remove her from the toilet. After she and her brother were washed up, I sent them away with their father. We did a quick wipe bath of Vi, rinsed her feet in the sink along with her sandals, reassembled and stood in a dry corner again.
Then I “swept” the remaining pee puddle down the drain with paper towels. And then I used the disinfectant wipes to clean the bathroom. Because, you know, I really don’t get to clean enough at home. As I came back into the sitting area of the funeral home, my husband’s family were all there, laughing. And I laughed too because really, what’s a little pee?When I die, I want everyone to bring their kids. I want them running rampant in the hallways, wreaking havoc and eating all the food. Let the kids tuck things in my coffin and draw pictures on the side. I want to hear giggles and squeals and screams, not crying (unless it’s a sibling fight between two kids over something like, “she looked at me the wrong way”, then let it fly!). I want older people complaining it’s too loud. I want MUSIC! FUN music, hell, let’s have a dance party for the kids and I hope the adults join in too. Because you know if I was there, I would!