While the kids were at Gramma's during this past ordeal, we discussed how we might shed more light on Ian's situation with them. I read Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer and we discussed our desire to have them know as much as possible without overwhelming them. Perhaps giving them a few weeks to settle into their new lives and questions before they head to Camp Kesem, a camp for children of cancer patients/survivors/victims.
A few minutes after Gramma dropped them off:
Ezra: "So, dad, what's up with that tumor?"
Following: THE talk. We explained to the kids that Daddy could die in a year. Or less. Or more. We talked about medicine and tumors.
Ezra teared up a little and came to snuggle with me. Audrey kept building Legos. When Ian said "year," she looked hard at me. I made the "yup, that sucks" face back at her. She lowered her gaze and continued to build.
Ezra asked if there was a telephone booth in heaven. He also has a question about hell pending (he wouldn't ask because he didn't want to SAY "hell," but he said he'd ask tomorrow).
I said, okay, so this is really sad and it sucks. So let's talk about how we do things now.
Me: "My priority is that we 'Live Well.'" What do you think that means?
Ezra: "That we know that if Dad dies then he gets to party with Jesus and if he doesn't die then we can thank God."
Rachel: "And really every day is a blessing and a miracle and we can thank God EVERY day for the life we have and the love we have for one another."
We're going to do things we might have waited longer to do, but we're also not going to DO ALL THE THINGS. We're not going to go to Disney World and the Grand Canyon and all of everywhere because dad's sick. We're going to live as we normally do, and just do our best to love one another and be kind.
Ezra: "Like we're going to Uncle Eric's wedding."
"Yes. We're going to do the things we're able to do and not go crazy trying to do all kinds of things.
It's important that we love one another, that we love God, and that we show His love to others. That's really important to your Dad, and so we need to make that important to us.
All the grownups in your lives, and some of the kids, know our situation. You can feel free to talk to any of them about anything - even if it's something you don't feel like you can say to or ask Mom or Dad. You can even tell them things you WANT them to tell us, but can't tell us yourself.
I'd like to tell your teachers at school next year, so they are aware of what's going on."
Ezra: "So if we start crying they'll know why?"
Rachel: "Yes. Exactly."
--- conversation immediately breaks into Lego logistics. Exactly as it should be.---
There will be more conversations, more questions, more tears. If you love on my kids, be gentle, and allow them to speak. If they act out, I'm sorry ... show them grace, while still pointing out inappropriate behavior. Bad life circumstances are not a license for bad behavior.