While playing in the yard today Dylan discovered a dead worm that was covered in ants. He loves worms and he loves ants and I didn't want to ruin his love for ants by explaining that one creature was eating the other, but just how do you talk to a two year old about death? He's seen the Lion King which has a pretty good message about the circle of life, but I always fast forward through the stampede part because I'm not sure if he's ready to comprehend death or if I want him to, even.
So here we were staring life and death down in the backyard today.
"The ants are eating that worm because the worm no longer moves and so the ants will make him their food, isn't that neat?!" I said to him.
"That's a worm!" He responded in typical toddler fashion.
"Well, yes, but he doesn't move and now the ants will eat him because he's no longer in his body." I say, feeling like I'm totally fucking up this whole conversation.
We were playing with his bug collector/magnifying glass at the time and so I guided him to watch the ants close up. He watched for a second and then blew the ants off and picked up the half-eaten worm.
"It's a squirmy worm!" He exclaimed as he proudly held the dead worm in the air. He then placed it in his bug collecting cage with his two live worms and took all three for a ride in his cozy coupe.
I'm glad I didn't explain death in too much detail. I remember being six and having nightmares about being buried alive. No child should have to be afraid of dying. One day he'll feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he grows up and is forced into this big world, but for now he should be free to love ants and worms alike. Even dead ones.