30% OFF Pride collection code: USAPRIDE! Free Shipping over $99

Funeral for a Mouse

by The Next Family March 29, 2011

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Mouse in the box


So there is a dead mouse in a cardboard box tied to a tree in my back yard.  The mouse’s name is Tile, which my daughter assures me is pronounced “Tilly.”  He’s been dead since Friday evening (yep, three days ago).

I’ve explained that in most cultures, there are elaborate rituals designed to get the dead body out of the main living area.  There are lots of great ways to send off the deceased – you can burn them on a pyre, float them away on a barge, or just bury them in an old fashioned hole.  “We do this,” I say, “so we can let the soul be free.  We let go of the body so that our loved ones can remain in our memories (without the stink, without the maggots).”  But my daughter will have none of it.

I’m wondering if we are being too permissive.

Last night we turned our dining room into a fine restaurant and let her serve our dinner and present us with a check after dessert.  Later, she pretended to be a concierge in a four-star hotel and tucked her brother into his “suite”. The service was first-rate, but I didn’t get to kiss my daughter good night because it would be awkward to be so intimate with the hotel staff.

My daughter’s imagination is enormous.  Her commitment to her work is worthy of some of the finest method actors.

The funeral of Tile the Mouse was a baroque affair.  We, the mourners, were asked to sit in a row of chairs in the yard.  My daughter sang a song about the short, tragic life of Tile while my son accompanied her on a mix machine.

“Just call me the funeral DJ,” he said with a grin.

After the song we were asked to wander around the yard and gather flowers to place on a small brick shrine at the base of the tree.  And when we’d done that, my daughter announced that we would turn over leaves in a kind of memory game.

“We will decide what kind of afterlife Tile will have,” she said.  “If you turn over the leaf with the black spot on the back, Tile will have an unhappy afterlife.”

My husband and I looked at each other with real concern.  An unhappy afterlife?  When we decided to have kids, we signed up for a lot of responsibilities, but wasn’t this taking it a little too far?

We held our breath and chose our leaves, letting out a collective sigh of relief when we found only green.

The night air grew cold and we wondered how long the funeral would last.  My daughter started to cry.

“You’re ruining this,” she said.  “It’s ruined.  This is all wrong.”

My husband and son wandered into the house and I sat with my daughter in the cold damp night.  At first, I didn’t really know what to say.

“You are working so hard,” I said into her tangle of curls.  “I see how hard you are working.”

We sat like that for a while – her damp little face pressed into my neck, her sobs gradually subsiding.

The post Funeral for a Mouse appeared first on The Next Family.

The Next Family
The Next Family


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Parenting

Modern Fitness For the Modern Parent

by The Next Family March 25, 2016


Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian

By Laura King

Life can get busy. With work, kids, family commitments, friends, chores, and the general chaos of everyday life, it can be near impossible at times to sit down for a cup of tea, let alone squeeze in an hour of exercise regularly. However, all things are possible if you set your mind to them. Those that prioritize their fitness nearly...

Continue Reading →

Estate Planning: The Basics For LGBT Families

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

With the passage of marriage equality last year, laws have been quickly changing across the United States. LGBT couples with or without children weren’t just given the right of marriage, they were provided new protections and benefits within their families. All of a sudden, LGBT couples and families had to figure out how to file jointly when it came to taxes, how to add...

Continue Reading →

Representation of Modern Families in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

by The Next Family March 24, 2016 1 Comment


By Alex Temblador

I recently wrote an article for The Next Family called, “Family-Friendly Films That Feature Adoption and Foster Care,” that shared wonderful family films with adoption or foster care story lines. My reasoning behind doing so was because every family deserves a chance to see similar families like theirs represented in various forms of entertainment.

The same can be said of other...

Continue Reading →