A little light bedtime conversation

September 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Posted in AdoptThis!, M'ijo | 9 Comments

One of those conversations where, as every word comes out of your mouth, you think, g-d, I hope I’m getting this right. 

I really, really hope I’m getting this right.

A while back, we ordered a custom board book for P’ito from this store.  It’s an infant version of the story of our family coming together.

Mommy and Mama wanted a baby to love.
They had lots of cats but no baby (composite picture of three cats, including Louie)
You were born on.. (photo of P’ito’s Guatemalan Mommy “M” and P’ito)
You lived at the hogar for 8 months
The nineras washed you and fed you and tickled you and loved you (Hogar photos)
Came home with us, we will always love you, etc. etc. etc.

We always fill out the details of the story a bit more as we look at the pictures.  I have been saying for a while now that he grew in M’s belly and after she gave birth to him she knew that she wasn’t able to take care of a baby then, so she asked the hogar to find a home for him where he would be loved and grow up big and strong.

Tonight as we were reading the story, first he asked me where Louie was.  “Mama, what that mean, die?”  I stumble through how animals and people, when they get really old, their bodies get sick (BAD word choice) and stop working and then they die.  This is when I wish I believed in a heaven.  Stumble through reassurances – Mama and Mommy and (names of everyone in his life)’s bodies are working just fine (well, sort of. but yeah, working just fine) and they are not going to die (knock, knock, knock, kinehorah, kinehorah).

Then, as if that wasn’t enough parental angst for one night, he asked another question that I don’t have an easy answer for.  We were talking about how Mama M couldn’t take care of a baby at  the time he was born*, and he asked:

Why?

How do you explain complex and painful adult decisions to a two-year old?

Without worrying him?

*I read somewhere about the difference in emotional impact between saying take care of you and take care of a baby – any baby.  The former implies a possible fault in the child, the latter keeps the emphasis on the first-family’s situation at that time.

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  1. I’ve had this same issue come up with my older son regarding my daughter’s story and I still don’t feel I have “the right” answer, so I am curious to hear what others have to say. Jack was 4 when EJ came home and is now 6. No matter what the conversation, no matter what “detail” I might give him, he either punches a hole in my logic or he spins it so it’s a fear in his life or EJ’s life now. For example (short-handing it big time), if I say her birth mother didn’t have enough money, he either tells me that we could have sent her money to keep EJ or he freaks out that if something happens as we don’t have enough money (esp. now with 3 kids) that he will have to go to another family.

    This also reminds me of a story…a few months after EJ came home, Jack was not acting himself. We were concerned and thought it had something to do with EJ, but we had talked to him SO much about her story that we really weren’t sure what was bothering him. Then one day he asked us when “the family from another country” was coming to get him. Turns out we had gone on so much about EJ’s first family and us being her forever family, that Jack assumed he would have to leave his first family too! Poor kiddo!!! Since then we talk a lot about us ALL being a forever family!

  2. For starters I don’t believe in Heaven either and I’m not Jewish.

    Second, I didn’t know P’ito was in a hogar. Email me which one. Wonder if it was the same as Valentina.

    Finally, be open and honest…. to a point. Valentina undestands that her TT has cancer and chemo is medicine that makes her sick but is making her better. But we don’t EVER talk about her dying and hopefully we won’t have to until she’s grown and knows all about it.

    Man this parenting thing is hard,isn’t it? Why didn’t someone tell us this?

  3. I think you never know what the *right* thing to say is. Who doesn’t remember some random, innocuous thing that their parents or another grownup said long ago that sticks out in a negative (or even positive) way.
    We have told Squeak that his mother was a “new grownup” and didn’t feel ready to be a parent yet. This is true in his case, especially since his “L-mom” did try to parent him for a few weeks. Doesn’t work as easily in other cases, such as P’ito’s.
    I wish we had more information about Squeak’s agency foster parents (especially pictures!), but we haven’t gone down that road yet.

    With death, we’ve described it as when someone is “all done being a person/cat/tree/etc.” It doesn’t hold true, exactly, when talking about untimely death, but it seems to be enough for him now. We, fortunately, *kenahora*, haven’t had to talk about untimely deaths.

    I totally agree that these are the situations where you hope your voice doesn’t catch and you measure every word coming out of your mouth. The great thing is, these conversations don’t just happen once. So if you regret something you’ve said, you can reframe it next time and repeat that version again and again.

  4. I second what the PP said about having another opportunity to talk about it. Difficult conversations like this will happen over and over again with our kids and we do have the opportunity to reframe/rephrase each time. Gosh its hard. I also agree with you about the “could not take care of a baby” not “you” so no blame is understood. Sigh – we have not had the difficult chats yet, but we keep reading Ally’s book (like your sons) and some others and just continue to hope as moms we’ll do ok when it comes up. Do you read Felicia’s Favorite Story? For our daughter I think it helps to read a book not about her but that mimics her story, 2 moms, Guatemala etc.
    Sounds like you did great. Good Luck!

  5. I think you don’t really explain complex and painful adult situations to a 2 year old. He wouldn’t really understand anyway. Although I don’t always like it, I often answer my kids with “That’s just the way it is.” or “I don’t know.” Because really, sometimes that’s the best answer. I know it’s heart wrenching and that’s really what your question is rooted in. But find a way to relate the “Why?” to P’ito in a way that he understands. And in the same way you embellish the story each time you tell it, you gradually introduce the “Why?” and it will seep in.

  6. OR you could spend $800 on an animal you bought at the state fair because you are afraid to have any difficult conversations with him? It works for some people.

    • Everytime I saw that on FB, all I could think was how far that money would go in Guatemala. Damn bunny.

      • No kidding! Unbelievable. Just be parents, already, and stop spoiling your kid so badly. We use the phrase “we don’t want a _______ (insert child’s name)” when we have to say “no” or do thinks S will not like because she is what happens when you give your child anything and everything.

  7. today – if Clinton gets the nod the Reps will have a dump truck load of dirt on her. That’s when Bloomberg/Hagel come in and save the day.;8230#&.kind of like the ambiguously gay duo from SNL, only without the gay.


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