I decided that I wanted to do something special for the kids yesterday. It wasn’t glamorous but I took them to get to an ice cream cone at McDonald’s. It was special to them and that’s all that matters.
As I was pulling up to the window to pay for the cones, out of nowhere, Emmett asks me, “Daddy, how many more days until I die?”
Emmett’s 5 years old and I was completely unprepared for that kind of question. To be completely honest, I was still reeling from learning about Emmett’s struggle to make friends, at his IEP meeting a few hours prior.
I wasn’t sure what to say. My brain was racing at a thousand miles an second and so all I could think to say was “sweetheart, you have more days left than I can count.”
He pushed for more details but I was able to sorta redirect him with ice cream and that’s okay because I was pretty freaked out and trying not to show it.
Today, almost exactly 24 hours later, he hit me with another question that I was completely unprepared for.
This time we happen to be at Dr. Pattie’s office, waiting for her to call us back. Emmett looked at me and asked, “Daddy, if I was dead right now, would you miss me?” Jesus Christ, I swear this kid is trying to send me into an emotional breakdown.
It took everything I had to not burst into tears.
I asked him to come sit with me. I put my arm around him and said what my heart was silently screaming. As he looked up at me through his Coke bottle glasses, I told him that “I would never stop crying.” Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to say, but it was the purest form of truth. If I lost him, I would never stop crying.
At this point I was physically shaking and I looked at Lizze but before she could say anything, Dr. Pattie came out the door.
This very quickly became the topic for today’s therapy session.
After I explained what had happened to Dr. Pattie, Lizze remembered that before we went for ice cream yesterday, Emmett had commented on a picture of Lizze’s Grandmother, who had passed away many years ago. He was asking questions about his great grandmother and so Lizze talked with him about her for a little while.
Here I am panicking that he’s suicidal or something and it turns out that these questions were simply tied to the conversation he had with Lizze yesterday. We just hadn’t put two and two together. Thank God for Dr. Pattie and the fact that Lizze remembered that they had that conversation yesterday.
It’s amazing how easy it was for me to become so freaked out and heartbroken by the innocent questions of my 5 year old. I mean, it’s good that I care so deeply but shit, I think I probably overreacted a little bit.
Has you child ever asked you a question that was crushing for you as a parent to hear?
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