It’s coming. And I fear it’s going to be soon, the time when we have to “tell” our three year old. Of course, he has no idea what cancer is, and shouldn’t at his age. But his questions just keep coming and I’m getting worse and worse at dodging them. But in my defense, he is getting better at cornering me. Take, for example, our lunchtime convo today:
Evan: Mommy, I need to go to the doctor
Me: Why, are you sick?
Evan: You go to the doctor a lot. Are you still sick?
Me: I feel fine, honey
Evan: But you go to the doctor. Are you sick?
Me: I guess technically, but I feel fine, don’t worry honey
Evan: Are you going to be sick forever?
(Here is where I feel like I got punched in the gut and start to tear up)
Me: Wanna watch a Paw Patrol??
Ok, so admittedly not my finest parenting moment. But how do you explain something like this to a three year old? He knows something’s up, so I don’t want to lie to him, but I also know how kids internalize things and worry, which he doesn’t need. You may be asking yourself why I ever even told him I was going to the doctor in the first place, and that’s fair, but I tried all other kinds of fibs and it just didn’t work any other way but to tell him the truth in that respect. Any other place I said I was going, he would ask to come along and then I would have to lie even more about why he couldn’t come. I know lying is a sin, but does a child really need to know the details?
I feel like a part of my job is to protect my children from this. I want them to be carefree; I want them to be kids. But I know the other side of the coin is that kids tend, naturally, to be selfish. I want to raise compassionate children that understand that it’s their job as followers of Christ to help hurting people. I just don’t know that mommy needs to be one of those hurting people, ya know what I mean? Our daughter is only 17 months, so I like to believe she’s pretty oblivious to it all, but she is very, very clingy to me, so who knows? Maybe she senses something.
So how do you tell kids? How do I tell them that melanoma is a progressive cancer in most people? How do I explain all the doctor’s visits? How do I prep them for if there comes a time when I’m not able to take care of them? How do you explain that they may not be able to do a sport or activity because we have to pay Mommy’s medical bills? And the thing I dread most, how do I explain to them that they are at a higher risk of it happening to them, too?
I tell ya, every time Evan starts talking about when he goes to school or when he starts driving, I immediately get choked up, just wondering if I’m going to be able to be there to see it. I want to protect my kids from every kind of hurt, and that involves all the awful things that would go along with growing up without a mom. I know it probably sounds like I’m getting ahead of myself, but as a parent, you feel like it’s your job to plan ahead for your kids and when you have cancer, it’s hard not to think about all the possibilities that that entails. To the point where I sometimes (only half jokingly) tell my husband if I think a certain girl would or wouldn’t be a suitable second wife. He just laughs and rolls his eyes. We love each other like that. Maybe that sounds weird or morbid, but it calms me down a little to know that my husband would only marry someone who would be a excellent mother figure and strong Christian example to the kids. I mean, he obviously has fantastic taste in women, amiright?? 😉 I try not to let myself go there, but I promise you this, every time I do, God calms my spirit, often without me even asking Him to. He has taken care of us in every step of this so far, so I would be a real fool to stop trusting Him at this point.
I have no answers, unfortunately. This is just something that comes with the territory I suppose, but I do wish I could come up with something that would help our son feel like he has answers to his questions, but is also truthful. Without scaring him! Haha I guess I’ll just keep praying for answers and that the right words will come as the questions flow. This part is really hard though and I really don’t like it!