The urge to protect our children from bad news is very strong. But sometimes they get more than we tell them. Three examples:
1) My husband is laid off as of March 16. When I got this news, it was in the car, driving Sam to daycare.
Sam: “Mommy, who that?”
Me: “That was Daddy.”
Sam: “He ok?”
Me: “Well, yes, he’s ok, but he got laid off.” (note: here I assume she will not understand the term “laid off” and will therefore return to playing with her slinky, satisfied with any answer.”)
Sam: “oh no! Poor Daddy. He ok?”
2) My sister often comes over to mooch dinner off of us after we have already made dinner for two. This leads to much joking about how Mar will “steal our food.” We did not think Sam understood until Auntie Mar and I went to pick up takeout the other night.
Sam: “where my burrito?”
Auntie Mar (holding the paper bag): “I have it, Sammy.”
Sam: “NOOOO! Auntie Mar!! Stay back! Stay back! Daddy, Auntie Mar take-a my rito! NOOO ! NOOOO Stay Back!” Screaming, crying, wailing, unintelligible tantrum follows.
Daddy: “Give me that burrito Mar.” He takes the bag, sets it on the table in front of Sam, who immediately calms.
Sam: “Thank you so much, Daddy.” She eyes Mar warily. “Auntie Mar stay back.”
3) I fell down the stairs and broke my foot last week. After I got back from the doctor, this is how it went with Sam:
Sam: “Mommy ok?”
Me: “I broke my foot.”
Sam: “Mommy foot purple?”
Me: “yes, Sammy. I broke it.”
Sam: “Poor Mommy. I kiss it.” She kisses my foot. “All better now, Mommy?”
Me: “Yes, thank you.”
Sam: “Mommy happy now.”
And the funny thing? I was.
Sam is a pretty perceptive person for one who dresses like this: