- Is Santa real? (9 year old)
- How did Robin Williams die? (9 year old)
- What exactly is cancer? (12 year old)
Amazingly, of these three questions, number 1 was the easiest and most direct to answer.
She had asked me the ‘Is Santa real?’ question earlier in the week when everything was crazy busy and I was able to Jedi mind trick her with ‘let’s talk about that when we have time to really have a good talk.’ Then, a few days later, she cornered me in the backyard as I was watering the plants. She just needed to know. No emotion, just needed affirmation. We talked, she was cool, and on she went to ride her Ripstick in the front yard. Three kids, three different reactions to that question. My 15 year old still has never asked me that question. My 12 year old was extremely emotional during our conversation. And I think I need to investigate why my husband has been away for a night when this question has been asked….
Question number 2 happened in the car while driving with all three of my kids. This question I did not answer as directly as question number 1. The movie ‘RV’ is our family go to movie. All five of us love it, and consistently laugh each time we watch it (which is usually at least twice a year).
We, as many did, felt that we almost knew Robin Williams personally, so our family was very sad when he died. Why my youngest wondered how he died while driving in the car yesterday, I do not know. I wasn’t sure how honest I needed to be about his death, which isn’t really something I know too much about anyways. We instead talked about that he had been married, and had adult children. They were amazed when I told them I thought he was about 60 when he died (turns out he was 63). My son said ‘but how did he look about 40 then?’ One thing I did say was that I had read that he had been sad at times during his life and making people laugh probably made him feel good. I have talked to my kids about suicide, and learned to use language such as ‘you matter’, and ‘moments pass’ due to a mother’s extremely heartbreaking true story which has allowed me to learn how to help educate my kids http://amasongraceproject.com/about-the-project/. And although suicide is something I have talked about with my kids, I wasn’t confident in going there and using that term yesterday with the Robin Williams talk. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something I will revisit.
Question 3 happened out of the blue in the kitchen. I tried to explain cancer as it happens in a persons body the best I could. I tried to ‘answer only what is asked’ as I have in the past. The follow up questions were ‘does it hurt?’ Then specifically about breast cancer and how ‘sometimes women just get them cut off?’
It’s these types of conversations that make me feel like such an amateur in this parenting thing. But, I just keep doing my best at being honest while trying to keep in mind the maturity level of my kids. Having Google implanted in my brain so I can reference it in the middle of these talks seems like a good idea to me.