We try to strike a matter of fact tone when discussing death (animal/meat or human) with the kids. After all, we reason, death is a normal part of life, and nothing that needs to be scarier or sadder than it already is.
Tonight Zion overheard Robert and I discussing someone who was somewhat recently deceased. "Daddy?", he said, "When are you going to die?"
This isn't the first time he's asked such a question and I answered like I always do (even though the question wasn't directed at me. Notice that? Never miss a chance to give your opinion!). "Not for a long while, sweetie", I said. "Most men in this country live into their 70's, and Daddy is only in his 30's. So he's probably got 40 years or so, and that's quite a long time, especially in terms of your life reference".
"When will Ajax die?", Zion asked.
"Pretty soon", Robert said. I looked at him funny- Ajax is 5 years old.
"Not that soon", I pointed out.
"Yeah, in about 10 years", R agreed. I guess we have a different perception of time. Mine's right, of course.
Zion stared at us thoughtfully. "After Ajax dies", he said, and I mentally flipped through the list of possible endings to this sentence- can we get a rabbit? a dog? another cat? But no..."can we keep him? As a decoration?"
Robert and I struggled not to laugh, which lasted about a millisecond before we burst out snorting.
"Um, what kind of decoration?", I asked. "Were you envisioning his whole body or just his head?"
"Just his head", Zion said.
"Well", said Robert, "If you really want to do that when Ajax dies maybe we'll talk to a taxidermist. That's a person who takes dead animals and turns them into..."
"Decorations", I said, helpfully.
"Yeah.", said Robert.
Zion seemed satisfied. And we moved on. When Robert and I relived the hilarity later on we discovered that while I had envisioned Ajax's head mounted like a trophy Robert had envisioned it stuffed and...just loose, like a ball. That Zion might toss to one of his friends, who would catch it not realizing what it was. Kid comes by it naturally, I guess.