Last night, our family sat up late, watching a very sweet movie called “We Bought a Zoo”. The movie is about a dad, struggling to recover and raise his young kids after the death of his wife. They decide to move house, schools etc and somehow land up buying a zoo. The movie is sweet and sad and as I am a bit sappy, I shed a tear or two. After the movie, the kids were sent to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. Off they went. I went upstairs a few minutes later to get ready for bed myself and popped in to kiss my kids goodnight. Claire was fine, but Ewan had a trembly lip. I asked if he was ok and he nodded, but I could see he was sucking in his cheeks, trying not to cry. I kissed him goodnight, knowing we weren’t really saying goodnight… yet.
A few minutes later, he came through to my room, sobbing. We cuddled through the sobs and when he could get some words out, they were “how old is Skittles? [our slightly geriatric cat]” and “how long could cats live for?”. I answered that our Skatkat was about 14 and cats can live to be older than that, but it’s impossible to say how long our kitty can be expected to live. I asked if it was because of the death of an animal in the movie that he was so sad… and he said yes… cue more profuse sobbing from him… and the fact that the mom had died… cue profuse sobbing from me.
How do I comfort my child about this, when this is one of my biggest fears?
I can’t promise him that our cat won’t die soon and neither will I. I have no intentions of dying anytime soon, but the thought of it happening and leaving my family behind fills me with fear.
I tried to tell him that bad things could happen to us but we don’t know if or when that could be, and the important thing was to enjoy our lives while we can, to create happy memories and to know that no matter what may happen, we could find a way to get on with our lives. And to be grateful everyday for what we do have. I told him that we were very fortunate in that we never, thus far, experienced anything terribly tragic. He pointed out that Nick had lost his dad as a kid and I wondered whether that was playing on his mind. I responded by saying that was true, and even so, the family had gotten on with their lives and even though it was a sad sad thing, the family still found their happiness. We talked, cuddled and cried together and eventually I suggested that it was time for him to go to bed, even though I wanted to hold him tight all night long. He told me he hopes that Nick and I live till we are at least 80 or 90. I replied that I hope the exact same thing.
He went off to bed and I suspect that he carried on crying a little, as did I.
I hope I handled that situation correctly!? Allowing him to cry and express his fears and not to make false promises about him about our future.
It did make me realise how much my kids are growing up. His awareness of life, death and emotions indicate to me how much more mature he has become. My boy is definitely growing up.
On a lighter note, Claire’s sense of humour has changed recently. I’ve noticed her comments and responses to situations are witty and quick now. I love that! Last week, her younger cousin wanted to play on her dad’s iPad and complained when she discovered the iPad’s battery was low. She told us that her dad’s battery was flat, to which Claire responded “Inside him or his iPad?”
I guess if anything the best thing I and any of us can do is take my advice to my son and make the most of everything we have now. Enjoy life and make memories. I have been pondering whether to make any new year’s resolutions (I reserve the right to make any throughout the month of January, and it is only the 7th today!) and maybe I have just found mine. Make memories and have fun. Put down the technology and enjoy the real world a little more.