Thursday, May 10, 2012

The things kids say

This post is in direct response to Abby's previous post entitled "Your adorable children." ( It kind of set off a chain of blog entries from her and I would venture to say that it was a little controversial but, it's the way she feels and I think a lot of us understands where she's coming from.

Not everyone enjoys hearing about the cute things that your kids have to say about the death of our children. Likewise, we don't always think they're cute.

My own son has come up with some dandies in regards to Toby's death. I wrote about some of them a few entries back. I LIKE listening to him talk and while I wish it didn't make him feel sad or guilty, we encourage him to talk about Toby's death if he wants to. Sometimes, he has questions and sometimes he feels bad and it's good to get those things out.

With my friend A, we also talk about his partner a lot and I tell him things that Sam has said. As soon as Toby died, Sam asked, "Is he with Jim?" and we said yes and then told A about it. It made him happy. He deals with his grief differently, though. I think being sensitive to the idea that not everyone would be open to a 4 year old talking about the deceased in such a cavalier manner is important.

If you read Abby's entry, I think she makes some important points and I think they correspond well with a previous entry I did about surviving children. The Christmas cards with kids' pictures on them didn't bother me. Hearing children talk about Toby's death and asking questions didn't bother me. To be honest, being around babies and children in general didn't bother me. (Seeing pictures on FB did but that was a very specific baby and not babies in general.) I think part of this comes from having Sam with us and kind of being forced to deal with that over and over and over again, whether we were ready or not.

What DID bother me, and still does, and what makes me on the same wavelength as Abby are the parents who allow their children to cross a line.

In most situations, if the child asks a question about Toby in front of me then I try to answer it as best as I can and move on. It usually works. There have been a few instances, however, where it was turned into a total nightmare. In one situation, the child in question actually stood over Iris shouting, "Toby's dead, he died, he's dead, Toby's dead...and YOU might die, too!" If that had been my child, I would have been mortified. I would have apologized to the parent, been embarrassed, and at the very least changed the subject. This parent, however, sat there and laughed and kept saying, "I know, honey, he's gone, but we still love him." Had I not snapped at the poor kid, he would have kept going.

This totally traumatized me.

I blame the parent.

In other situations, the parent has started telling their child, in front of me, that Toby is dead and that he's in Heaven and we'll see him again someday. They have this whole conversation, kind of unprovoked, right there in my face while I'm kind of helpless.

I would say that if you're going to have a theological discussion about my child's death with your own child then at least try not to do it in my presence.

That is NOT adorable.

I hate to be all "don't do this and don't do that" to a grieving parent, because nobody likes to be around a person you have to walk on eggshells around, but there HAS to be a certain level of sensitivity here.

I think it's very important to remember that many parents, including myself, suffer from PTSD or at least some form of anxiety. Allowing your child to stand over them, telling them that their child is dead, is almost certainly going to be a trigger for something. Not all grieving parents want to have theological discussions with children who aren't their own when it comes to their child's death, either. This is something we have to be respectful of.

Yes, I DO have these discussions with my own son. And occasionally he has questions. But he's my child. My suggestion would be that until you know how the parent feels about such discussions, it's something you might want to have with your children in private.

I can definitely handle this better now, but in the beginning I didn't want to listen to other children dancing around, singing about how Toby is dead. I know that they're kids and that they probably don't even understand what they're saying, but in a fragile emotional state, it's not cool. 


Maxie's Mommy said...

For me the issue is kids. I LOVE kids. I have always wanted kids. Always. I knew if I didn't find the right guy, I would still have kids. If I couldn't have kids naturally, I would adopt. I have always loved ms friends kids. I think my friends and cousins are wondeful parents. I envy them. I encourage them to keep talking to their kids about Max. I just can't hear about it. Maybe I can't even articulate why. In some ways, I am jealous that my sons death is a "moment"'for them And their kids...if that even makes sense. We went from being parents and having a kid to being a couple with no children and it sucks. There are no baby giggles in my home, no toys making loud noises, no future "difficult" conversations with Max, no future at all it feels like and I still don't feel confident to say - oh, we'll have all that with baby M. Max will never write his name all scrawly, he'll never draw a picture, he'll never talk to me about Heaven. The truth is, I decided (like you said) that there are some things I can't explain- I just feel. So many friends were sharing the touching moments that they were having with their kids at home with regard to Maxs passing, I just felt I couldn't take it anymore. It was too much.

Rebecca said...

I actually understand that. The idea that our babies' deaths have spawned anecdotes to be shared as freely as the reviews of last night's AMERICAN IDOL elimination is hard to take sometimes. In some cases, like the example you gave with the little girl and Max's picture on the computer screen, it's touching. In others, it's almost creepy and disrespectful (like with the little boy dancing around and shouting that Toby was dead).

Sometimes, I honestly feel that people share those things with us like they're talking about characters in a movie and not actually talking to the people who have gone through the actual loss.