There are pieces of writing that ask to be written–often very politely, and when you have a chance–and those that demand it–as in right now, hop to it, and thank you very much. And despite the fact that this has been a very long and exhausting week and that I am writing through an unmistakable gray film over my eyes, longing to sleep, this one is insisting that I tend to it now.
It is also a fiercely personal post . . . one that requires I share not only my perceptions of the present but details about my past. But as this blog is a gift to my children; and my history, I have learned, is becoming theirs, I will share it here.
Oscar has always had a tendency to stick close to my side–in public and at home. But over the last month or so, his need to be near me has reached unprecedented levels, so much so that even if I was only in the next room but still out of his line of vision, he’d stop what he was doing and find me, check on me, and ask what I was doing and how long I’d be doing it. He’d follow me upstairs to gather laundry and back down to the laundry room. He’d watch from the front door as I gathered backpacks and lunch boxes from the car. He’d get out of bed to ask me when I was going to bed.
I gave his behavior a lot of thought. I wracked my brain trying to discern what it could be that would lead a child, who has all the security he could want and that every child deserves, to be so ostensibly worried about where I was and what I was doing. We were never the parents that waited until our children were asleep to go out so as to avoid the drama of saying goodbye. We always tell the boys where we will be if our schedules take a different turn on a particular day. We have never not been there when we said we would. Ever.
I then muddled over the fact that this could be “adoption-related.” Perhaps Oscar was having thoughts about his birth mother–surmising that if she “left,” so to speak, perhaps I would, too.
I also thought that it might be simply Oscar’s one last hurrah before he went truly independent on me–a last phase of clinging tightly before he started to let go.
The truth remained: I had no idea. So, I did what I do in such situations–I stopped guessing and asked my son, and what he told me I could have never predicted.
I quietly took him aside last Saturday morning and asked him if he knew why he needed to check on me, to follow me, to make sure I was still there. I thought at first that though he may understand the question he may not be able to articulate the reasons; but as I had nothing to lose and–since this is Oscar–everything to learn, I persevered and waited.
And then, “Yes, I do know why I do that.”
A deep breath, and a “Well, can you tell me so that I can understand?”
He looked at me with the wisdom and awareness someone ten times his age and said, “Pop-Pop left you when you were just two years old. And he seems like such a nice person. And you’re a nice person. And I guess sometimes nice people leave.”
Pop-Pop is my father, and he did indeed leave when I “was just two years old.”
Oscar then added, “And you told me that even though he left, he still loved you. So, I guess that even if someone loves you, they can still leave.”
What followed was a poignant conversation that I simply never thought I would have at such an early juncture in my child-rearing not to mention the tears that inevitably come as I call up the image of Oscar’s face at that moment, the seriousness of his expression, the soulfulness of his eyes. All the work that I have done over the years to ensure that the losses I faced as a child would not impact my children went right out the window.
I may have learned this week that despite my best intentions to create a positive spin on the difficult chapters of my life, that my children are also going to be shaped to some extent by my experiences. But though my history may become theirs, my story will not be.
Thank you, Oscar, for your introspection and for your willingness to communicate–and for your ability to teach me what I need to know. We will be by each other’s side–today, tomorrow, and always–my love. That I can promise you.