Tonight was just an interesting night when it comes to bedtime, tuck-in conversations with the kiddos.
First up was E. We pretended spiders were crawling on our faces (courtesy of the other one's tickles…it's all about Halloween lately), shared plenty of tickly giggles, and talked about her favorite three-and-a-half-year-old topic: her birthday party. It doesn't matter that the party is still many months away. To her, it's a source of daily dreaming and entertainment. Our conversation went like this:
- Her, in her sweetest voice: Mama, you can come to my birthday party.
- Me: Thanks, Sweetie. I'd love to come to your birthday party.
- Her: Anyone with princess undies can come to my birthday party. (Thinks for a second.) You wear color undies, but you can still come to my birthday party. (Sorry…too much information? Pretty much every woman wears colored undies, right?)
- Me: Thanks, Sweetie.
- Her: I'll have a color birthday cake. It will have crayons, all different colors, but not the paper. (She likes her crayons naked…no wrappers.)
- Me: That sounds nice, Honey.
- Her: I'm going to have a Tinkerbell birthday. Not Dora. (It's been all about Dora for months. This is a big deal for her!)
It was a typical, sweet conversation that I can't seem to get enough of lately. Sometimes I just want to bottle her up at this age.
Then it was on to G's bedroom to tuck him in. This conversation was dramatically different.
- Him: Will you rock me? (This stopped me dead in my tracks, because just yesterday I teared up at a scrapbook thing when I pulled out a note I had written on his first day of kindergarten just one year ago. The first thing I read made me cry. I had written something like, "soon you won't want me to rock you at night…." It has been months since he wanted me to do that. And here he was asking me. It made me stop and realize I wanted to take some more time with him tonight and soak it all in. Unfortunately he changed his mind about me rocking him before we actually got around to it; he decided to have me rub his back instead.)
- Me: (I told him about the scrapbook thing yesterday.)
- Him: Are you sad I'm growing up?
- Me: Yes, it does make me sad sometimes.
- Him: Because you want to play with me?
- Me: Yeah, because you won't always want to play with me.
- Him: I will always want to play with you, Mom. (He's just started calling me Mom. He's wanted to for a long time, but I've made him call me Mommy. I haven't been fighting him on it lately. It's time for him to grow up and move on, I guess.)
- Me: (I gave him a big hug.)
- Him: Why are you sad?
- Me: Because I wish I had more time to play with you. But I have to work so we can pay for things, and you're just growing up really fast. (This was no time to explain that I like to work.)
- Him: (Then he starts to cry. And somehow – I can't remember the exact line of conversation – he gets to the subject of dying.) You won't always be here. We all die one day. I want you and Daddy to live forever.
- Me: You don't have to worry about us dying, G. We're going to live for a long, long time.
- Him: But you might not. (Big tears.)
- Me: (I tried to explain that there are lots and lots and lots of years between now and when we die and that he doesn't need to worry about it right now. I also tried to explain that he could be like 65 years old before his daddy or I die. But he's a smart kid.)
- Him: But maybe I will die. Even kids and babies can die.
This was a long conversation, so I won't continue line by line. But it is a conversation I will probably not forget for some time. I have no idea if I responded "right," or what I "should" have said. It is heartbreaking to hear him talk about dying — especially when he's crying and especially when he's thinking about himself dying. I struggle with finding the right way to talk to a six-year-old about death. And it's a topic that for him has been rather frequent in the past year or more.
Chad's dad was in a bus accident in March 2007. He was gone without any warning whatsoever. It was very traumatic for all of us, but for a 4-year-old (G's age at the time), it has been almost impossible to process, I think. Without a good grasp on time (he doesn't understand the concept of the possibility that we could be alive until we're 90 years old), and with constant reminders of death and being left alone on TV and in movies (he cried during "The Fox and the Hound" the other day and cries when Boog is taken out into the mountains in "Open Season"), he's scared of losing us. Really scared. How do we help him with that? What can we say that he can understand? Does anyone have any good advice? If so, please, please leave me a comment. I can use some advice right now.
Well, sorry to end on such a sad topic. But it's a big part of G's life right now, and I wanted to write out my thoughts about it while it's happening. I'm hopeful that he'll soon be able to really understand that we're not going anywhere. And until then, I just pray that nothing happens to anyone in our lives…especially Chad or me…until he can get through it.