Ryan’s first grade class seems to be a hotbed for romance lately! Wonder what it is? Spring? Anyway, we are getting loads of information at dinner table on crushes, love, couples and singles. And I plan to enlighten you on all those topics. So here goes.
Crushes are ‘when you are in love with somebody but that person doesn’t know about it.
Love is when both parties know that they love each other.
Mommy and daddy are a couple whereas Sahana and Ryan are still single, but when they grow up they will find someone and become couples.
And lately, we have been talking about divorces….a lot. One of Ryan’s friend’s parents got divorced recently, and the friend has to move out-of-state with one of the parents. This incident has hit my boy….. hard. He has started asking me, often, if his dad and I plan to divorce in the near future. If so, what will happen to him and Sahana!
I share a wonderful relationship with my spouse, we hardly have disagreements except when we are rooting for our football teams. At that point, all bets are off. Its war! But, other than that, I never disagree with him provided he always agrees with me:)! Fortunately, we seem to share a lot of similar ideas on different issues that are important to us and there is hardly a discord that doesn’t get solved with a little bit of ‘talking it out!’ Hence, I was baffled by Ryan’s insecurity. Interestingly enough, he always asks ME not to disagree with dad, so dad doesn’t leave us.
A couple of nights ago, I decided to take them for a treat at a frozen yogurt place. Sean was not too much in favor of the adventure since it was late and they had whined a bit. But I had promised them earlier, so I decided to take them anyway. Ryan was stressed the entire car ride. I could tell he wasn’t enjoying himself. Finally, he asked me, “Mom,
do you think Dad will divorce you now, that you took us out when he didn’t want you to?” If I wasn’t driving, I would have wrapped him in my arms and kissed his fears away.
So I did the next best thing, we talked about it. I told him sometimes grown ups don’t get along, they decide to go their separate ways, but they always love their children. That never goes away. And it is never the children’s fault that parents divorce. The grown ups sometimes feel they need to live separately to be happy. But his daddy and I get along just fine and we will not get divorced.
Just out of curiosity, I wanted to know why he always thought daddy will go away since sometimes moms make that decision too. He pondered upon it for a while and said “You are nice!” I knew he couldn’t express his feelings since Sean, for him, is definitely the preferred parent. Sahana summed it up for him. She said, “I think daddy travels a lot, we don’t get to see him much, but you are always with us, you do everything for us, so we can’t see you just leaving us and going away. But since daddy is away a lot, it is easier for us to think dad can leave!”
When we stopped at the yogurt place, Ryan got out of the car, still somber and thoughtful and said, “If you guys do get divorced, I will go with whoever will take me!” My heart just about broke. I got a glimpse into the mind of a child who may be in the middle of a divorce or a custody battle. What torment that young mind goes through – the insecurity, fear, guilt, incomprehension of the grown up world.
I try my best not to trivialize their fears or mortifications. Although they sometimes seem meaningless in our adult world, they are very real in their world! I try to address the fears and try to find an answer (operative word here being TRY)! We do the usual catching the nightmares in a box and emptying it outside, opening closet doors and checking under beds to make sure no errant monster is lurking. When all fails, we sing praises of the monsters and talk about how adorable they are. Who doesn’t love Elmo and Grover? So I dealt with this fear the usual way – talked, reassured! Unfortunately, the fear of monsters are slowly but steadily giving way to fears of more tangible things in life, like poverty, divorces, animal cruelty, abuse, and finally, the huge mystery of death. Ryan is slowly becoming cognizant of the fact that there is a lot of sadness juxtaposed with the happiness in this world. In life, there are a lot of uncertainties, lot of insecurities. He is looking around him and he is not seeing a bed of roses. This loss of innocence is inevitable, I know. I cannot save him from this, probably shouldn’t try to either. But what I can and will do is assure him that his dad and I will try our best to be anchors in his life, TRY our best to keep the real sadness at bay for him. We will do everything in our power to give him a rose garden, but still there will be those occasional thorns in his path. We will hold his hand and help him bypass those, on his way to the grown up world, till he himself is ready to let go of our fingers.