Tonight we had a few distractions in our typical bedtime routine, one of which was a friend of the family dropping in. You see she is only 10 and her mum is away. She had just been talking on the phone to her and was unconsolable so her dad brought her over for a mum-like hug. She is a beautiful girl, the sort of girl I hope my daughter becomes and she is a pleasure to have around. It didn’t take too long before she was calm and relaxed and we had made plans to start a new craft project together, something she could give to her mum when she gets back.
Although the distraction was brief, it was apparently enough to set the thought processes into action for girl-child. We were later than usual by the time we headed upstairs for bed, again not much but enough to compound what was to come. I grouched at both kids, nothing major but by this time I was tired too and I was disappointed about the whirlwind that had clearly swept through their bedrooms and study area. That was the final straw, girl-child crawled into bed sobbing.
I was really looking forward to a nice quiet evening in, but that wasn’t going to happen unless I was able to calm down girl-child. It was easier to just jump into bed with her to be able to talk more comfortably. It started off being that she was merely upset because I growled at her. That seemed nice and simple, a few minutes and a few hugs and the sobs had subsided. I left her and wandered downstairs to find her a CD for her to listen to as she fell asleep.
Before I had even made it to the bottom of the stairs the sobs had ramped up in their intensity. By the time I returned with a CD her whole body was wracked with huge sobs. I put the CD on and climbed back in to bed with her. We started to talk to distract her from crying. First she told me about her day, the people that she plays with and the fun things that she does at school all of which calmed her. She then talked about a boy in her class that teased her. He teased her twice and it was weeks ago but still she is holding on to it. She was still upset that first he called her ‘chicken’ and then ‘chicken pox’. I was able to calm her down by talking about how her chicken pox have disappeared entirely and she doesn’t even have scars from them, unlike her brother and I. That just made her sadder, she wants to be exactly like me. She wants to have more freckles on her face and to dye her hair to match mine. It was hard to convince her, but she did comment that ‘everyone says we look the same’, so maybe when she gets bigger she will look just like me and we can be sisters.
Things were getting better, she was relaxing again. She put her arm around me, took a deep breath and began to sob all over again. This time it was because of the monsters. She couldn’t go to sleep because whenever she falls asleep there are monsters. Now even I I know that the monsters weren’t really in her dreams but there was something that was stopping her from sleeping. I tried to convince her that she has control over her dream, she could be like Harry Potter and Hermione when they change the boggart from something scary to something funny just by saying ‘Ridikulus’. Wehad a giggle about scenes in the movie, we even practiced saying ‘Ridikulus’ but it didn’t seem to help.
Then I suggested that I could help her in her dreams, that she could dream me and I could make the monsters go away. That was probably the worst thing that I could say, her little body shook even harder as she sobbed into my arms, ‘but what will happen if you die mumma?’ Oh my God. My poor little girl is so busy fretting about life without me that she is unable to live now. I tried my best to explain to her that I didn’t plan on dying any time soon but she countered with ‘but everyone dies mumma, I don’t want you to die’. We talked as rationally as we could about death, but for a 5 year old she knows far too much. She told me that ‘sometimes people get diseases and they can’t get better so they die and I don’t want you to get sick and die’. I couldn’t promise her that I, nor anyone else in our family, would never get sick, but finally I was able to convince her that we are all healthy and fit and hopefully we won’t get sick. Eventually the sobs subsided and she seemed content that we could could just snuggle, enjoy being a family and love each other forever.
My beautiful little girl, I want to protect you from death, disease and sadness as best I can. I want to ease away your concerns of the last few hectic and emotional months but I don’t know how. All I can do is hold you tight when we hug, check on you eight times and have a snuggle if I get time. I love you and of course your brother and dad too.
I know that parenting is always going to be a challenge but I really thought that we would have a few more years before we had to have discussions about mortality.