At the checkout line at Safeway I am asked if I want to play the Monopoly game. I don’t but my kids get a kick out of it, hoping to land the Xbox. I say, “yes” and am handed a billion cards. I only came in for peanut butter and jelly and am now on the hook for $300 worth of non pb&j items and 15 plastic bags.
Do they really need to ask? What are my options? Throwing loose fruits and vegetables in my trunk for an entertaining treasure hunt once I arrive home, or, having it all placed in .10 bags that I’ll forget to bring on the next trip?
I put the groceries away at home and retreat back to work. One of my sons comes in to tell me they are only 2 stickers away from winning the Million Dollar jackpot. I tell him, “Great” and turn to go back to work. He looks and me and says,
“If we win a million, will you get back together with Dad?”
My heart stopped. Thoughts flashed by,
“Is that what they think? The divorce is about money? When did that happen? What does this mean and how do I fix it?”
Meanwhile, I replied,
“Our divorce has nothing to do with money, sweetheart. Daddy and I will not get back together if any of us wins a million dollars.”
He nodded as if he understood and then walked away. I know he didn’t understand but I also didn’t know how to explain it to him in a censored childlike way.
So, I retreated back to work to think about the impact of the interpretation to his psyche. I wondered about the future impact to him as a grown man.
My focus on explaining the divorce to my children has been letting them know how much we both love them, how our decision has nothing to do with them and how we will work together to continue loving them and taking care of them. Pollyanna stuff which I feared would come back to bite me in the ass.
Well, ass bitten. Much as I’d like to believe they don’t hear my bitching from behind closed doors, one of them has heard enough to extract money as a cause of our divorce.
Truth is, if you really love someone, you’ll go so far as to live on a street corner with them holding jars, signs or guitars to make it work. It would suck, but partnership plus love is a helluva thing.
How would I explain that Mom and Dad have no partnership without hurting or confusing him further? I’ve decided I don’t need to. Maybe this is one of those things he gleans on his own when he’s a man.
I don’t know. I’ve talked to child counselors and read a lot of books about divorce, children and breaking the news. Much of it falls into Pollyanna-land though.
No one can prepare you for how to share a soul truth with a young child that would only serve to crack at the fabric of a heart already damaged by the reality of loss. No counselor or author can know your child’s heart the way you do. It is your unique child, after all.
Most of the advice is based on statistics. Though well intended and often sound, deep down, I don’t give a damn about statistics.
I may always feel sorrow at the damage caused to their hearts but am also comforted in the knowledge that the divorce is a lessor damage than remaining married would be.
I only pray that as their hearts gets mended they do not also become hardened in the process…