Our toad died. I had noticed that he wasn't eating much, but I thought that maybe he was starting to hibernate or something. A few days later, I looked again, and he was gone. I didn't think much of it, other than the original feelings of guilt for bringing him home and keeping him. I expected some sadness from the kids, but I didn't anticipate how much they would feel. Eric is sentimental and gets choked up over things all the time, so I anticipated that, but Sarah rarely cries unless she's hurt, guilty, or angry.
When I told them, Sarah started bawling and asking why, and then got to work, covering his aquarium with paper and putting Xs and Os on a tic-tac-toe game. When I asked why, she said, "I want him to know that I love him." (I understood the Xs and Os, but wasn't clear on why she put them on the game . . . she was crying a lot, so I didn't push it.)
Eric cried, said that he loved and missed Toady, and asked when we could get a new one. I told him that we had a dog and no longer needed a toad. "It's not the same, Mommy!" he responded. I tried very hard not to smile.
When they were ready, we took him outside and buried him behind the treehouse. Eric put a stick in the dirt pile to honor Toady, while Sarah chose to watch from the treehouse. We each said something nice about him and then went inside.
Me: "I liked watching him eat crickets."
Sarah: "I liked petting him and talking to him."
Eric: "I loved him."
Sarah: "Me too."
This all happened on Sarah's birthday party day, which was a wonderful thing, because we were all distracted by preparations, and once the funeral was over, the sadness was gone. Every once in a while, Eric still asks about getting another one, and I remind him that we have a dog.