The death of a pet is never not a sad occasion, but if you treat it the way Chrissy Teigen and John Legend apparently do in their family, it does not have to be a traumatizing one. And it definitely does not have to be a secret you keep from young kids you deem “too young” to understand death.
“Oh. Peanut butter the hamster died,” Teigen tweeted on Tuesday night of the hamster who joined the Teigen-Legend menagerie in March 2019. We don’t know how old she was when it was adopted, but PetMD says that the average life expectancy of a hamster is two to three years, so this wasn’t exactly a shockingly early demise.
Still, we wondered how 4-year-old Luna and 2-year-old Miles are handling this loss. Did their parents simply replace the pet and pretend it still lives?
“[Luna] is okay,” Teigen replied to a fan. “We are very open about life and death in the house and it was all good teachable moments, especially since she still asks about baby and stuff <3”
We wish the kids didn’t already have the example of their stillborn brother to teach them about death, but that is a fact that children have had to grasp since forever. In November, Teigen posted videos showing that Luna had been interacting with a box of Jack’s ashes, because they have been open about death and grief with their children.
Given the advent of birth control and modern medicine, children are largely shielded from death these days. If parents pretend the pet never dies, they teach dishonesty while losing the opportunity for an open conversation about death. Peanut Butter’s demise is, as Teigen said, a very good teachable moment. A pet’s death is a lower-stakes way to learn about impermanence, and about the fact that it’s OK to be sad about sad things, if they see grownups mourning the lost animal too.
But also, this is just a hamster we’re talking about. And it seems the whole family is kind of treating this loss lightly. Teigen demonstrated as much with a video of their new Christmas stocking, showing the name “New P. Butter.”
“That is the name. Don’t attack me!” she wrote.
A fan account pretending to be OG Peanut Butter replied in outrage over being replaced, especially after learning the death actually happened weeks ago. That explains how there was already a stocking ready for the new hamster.
New Peanut Butter joins French bulldogs Pippa and Penny, English bulldog Pepper, poodle Petey, bearded dragon Sebastian, and parakeets Jasmine and Aladdin. May they all live long and not teach these kids any more lessons for a while.
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