“The ‘circle-of-life’ theme has helped us navigate the whole awkward discussion about death with our five-year-old. Thank you, Disney!” writes “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE
THE “Lion King” has been a big help in our house. Not thanks to the recent Ooshies craze at Woolies as we now have hundreds of tiny, gold, plastic lions scattered around our home, but the “circle-of-life” theme has helped us navigate the whole awkward discussion about death with our five-year-old. Thank you, Disney!
I admit that I don’t find it easy to talk about death. Who does? When his 101-year-old great granny died last year, we decided to tell our son that when people are very old and turn 100, their bodies stop working, they fall asleep and die. Yes, it is very sad for those who love her, but she lives on in our hearts and memories.
Might not be getting a parenting award for that one, but it was the best non-religious explanation we could come up with at the time. I did wonder if we did the right thing when our son started asking everyone in our family our ages and working out how close to 100 we are!
After the Ooshies craze hit our house, then came the information that all the preschooler’s friends have watched “Lion King” and please, mummy, could he see it, too? I remember watching the animated movie at the cinema as a tween so was unsure if it was appropriate for my five year old. He seemed to read my mind because he then reported to me that “the dad dies, I know that, mummy”.
So we decided to let him watch the animated movie. And, yes, spoiler alert, the dad, Mufasa, does die. I kept asking my boy if he was okay during the dramatic death scene, in a loose “Hamlet” narrative twist Mufasa is murdered by his brother. But the boy was alright about it. Phew.
The movie was worth watching from my perspective as it gave me some great material for the next death discussion coming my way. In one scene Mufasa teaches his son, Simba, that everything he sees exists together in a delicate balance.
“As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope,” says Mufasa.
Young Simba replies: “But dad, don’t we eat the antelope?”
“Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life,” says Mufasa, wisely.
Disney parenting gold. When the question came up the other day about us eating meat and animals dying, instead of stammering or gulping, I simply channelled my inner-Mufasa and couldn’t believe how the “circle-of-life” speech rolled perfectly off my tongue. I felt like roaring!
My son’s favourite “Lion King” ooshie is the blue “spirit” Mufasa, sapphire coloured with speckles of silver it’s a very special part of the collection, representing the spirit of dead Mufasa.
In the absence of religious beliefs, I quite like the idea of being a spirit Mummy Mufasa when I die, glittering in the skies, looking down at my children. Although it’s still mercifully a long time until I’m 100!