When Milin realised the snowman was gone forever, his entire face fell. “More snowman, mummy, more snowman.” He wailed. Big, round tears fell from his eyes. His hands went to his face in horror and despair. He couldn’t cope with the sense of loss.
We were watching The Snowman and The Snowdog for the first time. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon after swimming and he was tired. We put on the DVD I had bought for him as a seasonal treat and to indulge my own love of the original animation.
My own memories of watching The Snowman are happy. I loved it, many a Christmas was spent watching the film or looking through the book or playing the score on the piano. I hadn’t thought through how Milin would feel at the end of the sequel.
In order to bring the snowman back to life we had to watch the DVD again. Milin loved him, and he just couldn’t cope with the idea that he might have gone away forever.
He behaved similarly in the week when watching a production of The Tiger Who Came to Tea with his nanny. I wasn’t in the theatre with them, but Milin broke down when the tiger left. He didn’t want him to go.
These two outbursts have made me think about how, for Milin, life is so literal. These characters, the snowman, the tiger – they are real to him. He can’t cope with them going. To do so would be to learn hard lessons about impermanence, about loss, about separation, about goodbyes. I don’t feel like he is ready, my little boy who is not yet two.
He could not be consoled. He did not want to believe that by morning, the snowman was gone forever. It mattered so much to him that his new love, didn’t go away.
He broke my heart. I saw in him grief and loss and pain and sadness – and all because of a line drawn character. I appreciated anew how clearcut life is in Milin’s eyes. I saw the simplicity of his world, the part of his nature that leads him to be so trusting and believing, and I saw that he only wants to see the good because he is a child. I wished then he didn’t have to learn life’s lessons.
For now, I’ll press repeat on the DVD and Milin can watch the snowman come to life again. One day, though, he’ll come to know that the story ends when the snowman melts by the morning. He’ll come to learn that a new snowman must be built with each new snow. He will learn, my serious child who takes the world to heart, that nothing lasts forever.