Thursday, July 26, 2007

On Fears















I'm afraid I inadvertently passed on my fear and sorrow over a little girl onto Eldest. They are the same age.

Last night, as I was tucking him into his top bunk, Rainman he requested, as usual, that we "talk about our day." So we did, running through what his favorite part of the day was, if he did something kind for someone else, and whether or not he had gotten into any trouble. (This time together at the end of the day, and this thing that we do as I tuck them in, is always one of my favorite parts of the day.)

Then, as Rainman he always does, he asked me, "What are we doing tomorrow?" (He's very much like his Mommy in this way...always wondering, "So what's next?!")

So I explained to him that Grandma and my Sis might be taking him and his brothers to the lake. I went on to add that he needed to remember to be very careful in the water, to not go out too deep and to always pay attention. And I (mistakenly, I see that now) reminded him of what had happened with Baby at the lake a few weeks ago with Daddy. (Baby tripped and went under. Eldest happened to be standing right next to him when Hubby leaped into the water to pull him up, and later remarked that he thought Baby was "just playing and splashing.")

I started getting a little choked up when I said to him, "Mommy and Daddy would be very sad if something bad ever happened to you or your brothers." He solemnly shook his head, yes, that he understood.

About 1/2 hour later, as I was tucking Middle into his bottom bunk, Eldest was still awake.

He said to me, in a voice that made me crumble, "Mom, I just can't get to sleep. I keep thinking about D-R-O-W-N-I-N-G."

Yes, he spelled it. I guess because either it was too scary for him to say out loud or because he was protecting his brother Middle from hearing. Actually, it was probably for both those reasons.

If I could have melted into a big sopping puddle of tears, I would have right then.

Instead, I climbed up on Middle's bed so I could look Eldest in the eyes, rubbed his soft buzz cutt and said, "Momma didn't mean to scare you. You will never drown, bud. Now think of happy things: the Red Sox, our Cape vacation in a few weeks, when we went to Myrtle Beach, or when we went to Edaville. No more sad stuff, okay?"

Again, he solemnly shook his head yes, that he understood.

After more kisses and hugs and "talk about our day" with Middle, I exited their bedroom.

And then I cried.

14 comments:

JMA said...

I just visited Rachael's blog. I'm hiding from my kids behind the computer armoire door because I don't want to explain to them why I have tears streaming down my face. So heartwrenching.

I know what you mean about close calls haunting. When Hailey was almost two, she slipped into what seemed like a very small amount of water, where we were fishing with her older brother. The image of her face under the water, eyes wide open, soother still in her mouth, is still so salient in my mind. I'm such a paranoid freak about my kids drowning, but I know that it could happen in a heartbeat.

slouching mom said...

Oh, I know. One reason why I am constantly trotting my kids to and from swim lessons is because when Jack was a baby, he fell into a pool.

I will never forget seeing him looking up at me FROM UNDER THE WATER with one of his big, brilliant smiles.

That image is seared into my brain.

Thus: I will do everything I can to ensure that my kids are the strongest swimmers they can be.

Hugs to you.

Major Bedhead said...

Boo went under the water in our little 2.5' pool a week ago. Only her little mouth was out of the water and she gave a strangled little "Mama!" I was three steps away, hanging the clothes on the line. It scared the living shit out of me and I haven't taken her back in the pool since then. I read Rachel's blog and bawled my eyes out. I try not to live fearfully or to pass that fear on to my kids, but my god, there are just so many things. I'm usually good at pushing them to the back of my brain and closing the door on them, but then this thing happened with Boo and then I've been reading about Rachel's little girl and it all just overwhelms me.

hot potato said...

it's hard to strike the balance with children between a healthy reverence of something and an overproduction of fear. i remember my childhood and having certain fears of things because my mom had explained what could happen.... it seems like it's unavoidable for us mommies to not pass fear along. life is unavoidable. and bad things happen to good people, innocent people everyday.

i would have cried too. i think you handled the conversation with eldest well. they will grow up to trust the words you give them and to trust that you always have what's best for them in mind, first.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

D-R-O-W-N-I-N-G is something I have personal experience with. I can't really read Rachael's blog.

I wouldn't survive if something bad happened to my babies.

Happy Homemaker said...

What a special story you shared.

Rachael's story is so very sad.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

My middle child has slipped under the water twice now===all within my arm's reach but, the scary thing is, she makes no move to be saved. No splashing, no coming up and screaming or gulping. Nothing---just under the water, looking up. Thank God, we've seen her within seconds and pulled her out both times. After reading about Hannah yesterday, I cannot get this out of my head. Plus, we are about to leave on a vacation to go somewhere with EIGHT pools and a kids' program. I am petrified to leave my girls with strangers even for a few hours.

Angela said...

Oh the worry. That is something I would have done when I was little, I still do it now.
Children tend to pick up on feelings. When I feel sad my little boy is more clingy then normal.

hqm said...

I would have cried, too! It is so hard to watch the innocence being taken from my girls lives. And that is what happens when you need to explain the unpleasant things about life. My seven year old just lost a classmate, she is different since learning that children can die.
As much as we want to sheild them , honesty is always the best choice in the end.

myminivanisfasterthanyours said...

I have not stopped thinking about Hannah since I clicked on her mom's blog from yours. It has literally been on my mind constantly. Crusher and Bam Bam start swimming lessons again next weekend, but learned to get to the side of the pool and get out in their swimsuit is not the same as fumbling around in a lake situation, possibly with clothes on.

I am so grateful for this horrific reminder, though.

Worker Mommy said...

I read about it on SlackerMommy's site a few days ago but just couldn't bear to head over there. but I did today. And my heart just aches for this family. I can't imagine...I don't want to imagine.
All I want to do is envelope my kids in my arms and never let them go.

cry it out! said...

I'm surprised you made it out of the room. I have a non-speaker right now, and I can't even begin to imagine words coming out of her mouth, let alone fears. I'm not ready. A great, poignant post.

Mike

Tinamtl said...

Oh no. Poor guy.

Well, it happens to all of us. Sometimes I think I need to tell Paola a bit about the real world and after I tell her...sometimes she is still thinking about it days later (and I regret it). I have trouble knowing how much I can tell. Then sometimes. She just hears it. Like, on the news, on the school bus radio.

There will be times in the near future when you will have less control over what he hears about. Then it gets even harder.

Kerry said...

Now I am crying... I just can't even think about the what if because then I start to dwell on the what if. one of them getting hurt is my biggest fear.

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