I am not a huge lover of dead animals. Perhaps you are. But I am not. This past weekend we were visiting my mother in Connecticut when all of a sudden, I noticed a dead bunny in the living room. Apparently, our dog Martini had grabbed Peter Cottontail (aren’t all bunnies named Peter? Or maybe Thumper) in the backyard, snuffed the life out of him and brought the rabbit inside as a little gift (dogs are so generous in that way).
At the time of the dead bunny sighting, I was standing with my toddler. As a parent, I really wish I had calmly handled the situation, using it as a learning opportunity for my daughter about the natural cycle of life and death. Instead, I screamed, “there is a big dead bunny in the living room.” I screamed so loudly that I woke my husband out of a solid sleep. Rick was also the lucky guy who got the job of rabbit clean-up. Of course, I gave lots of helpful tips like, please use a non-toxic cleaner to wipe up the remains because our baby is now crawling all over the place.
Because of the incident, I’ve likely passed on some kind of dead bunny anxiety to our nearly 3 year-old daughter. But my fear is deep routed. When I was growing up, we had two adorable bunnies named Phoebe and Sophie who use to happily hop around the backyard. They lived a wonderful, carefree life until some kind of animal ended their frolicking and sprinkled their parts across the lawn. My mother got clean-up duty that time. I’m also sad to report that when I was in 6th grade, I brought home the two school guinea pigs for the summer and they too suffered a terrible fate after a neighborhood dog managed to get into their cage. Maybe you’re starting to understand the emotional turmoil I’ve been through. Some kids just have to deal with a fish floating at the top of the tank.
As parents, we try to be calm and comforting to our children. But having kids doesn’t turn us into super heroes. We are just people, like everyone else, with anxieties, fears, and preferences. At this point, I’m pretty sure that I prefer my bunnies alive and fluffy and not lying in the living room.