Monday, August 11, 2014
Day 31 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
Justin and I talked to the kids about my having cancer.
We all sat together around the computer and I put in a DVD from the doctor’s office.
I was running the mouse, ready to pause the show if they had questions. I’d already watched the video by myself a few times. I wanted to be as prepared as humanly possible.
If there was a time where it was crucial for me to not cry, it was during this conversation.
The DVD was about twenty minutes long, and puts cancer in the terms of a child. I even learned a few things after watching it.
Like the fact that chemotherapy is not a smart drug. It only knows to target ‘fast growing’ cells.
Cancer is a fast growing cell, but unfortunately, so are the cells that
Chemotherapy only knows to check if the cell is fast growing. If it is, as the video told the kids, chemotherapy ‘knocks it down’.
Basically chemotherapy is your typical schoolyard bully that medical science threw a harness over and put to plow.
The video isn’t scary, but it is serious, and sometimes serious is scary to kids.
Connor didn’t want to watch the video. He buried himself behind a pile of couch pillows and threw a blanket over the top.
He’s five and I’m thirty four, but I certainly understood the reaction. There have been many times in the last month that I’ve wanted to hide from the messy emotional side of cancer.
When Justin told him, “Connor, you need to watch this,” he would only peek out from a slit between two pillows.
Hannah got off the couch and came to sit by me at the computer. She wrapped her arms around me and sat watching the video with big eyes.
Justin and I paused the video in a couple of places to see if the kids had questions.
Hannah had a ton. I expected that. She’s my question-asker.
She was very worried about me losing my hair.
“But you’ll look like a boy!”
I told her, “That’s okay. I’d rather lose my hair than keep cancer. Besides, my hair will grow back.”
Justin asked, “Connor do you have any questions?”
Connor popped his head out from the pillow pile, his lower lip stuck out.
“Do you have a question, Connor?” I asked.
“I love you,” he said, then ducked back beneath the pillows.
After the video ended, I showed the kids my pink wig. They loved it. Hannah put the wig on and paraded around the house.
I told them they could get wigs, too, and the idea of playing dress up made cancer a little less scary.
Hannah was torn between getting a red wig and a rainbow wig.
Connor decided immediately on a Mohawk wig.
“But not a pink one, Mommy,” he said. “Pink is for girls.”
I smiled and told him he could get whatever color Mohawk he wanted.
Later, Hannah came to me with a handmade card that read ‘Simply the best mom’.
She handed it to me and said, “I want to say something but I don’t know how.”
“Go ahead, baby. Just say it.”
She thought a moment. I could see her sorting through all the words in her eight year old mind.
Finally, she said, “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s what’s inside that counts.”
Silver Lining: That, my friends, is what you call a Parenting Win.
I didn’t cry when we talked to the kids.
I cried later where they couldn’t see me. Justin just held me and wiped my tears.
But I feel better now that they know.
Before it felt like cancer was a dirty secret Justin and I were keeping from them. We wanted to have all the puzzle pieces before we talked to them, but even once we had all the pieces we still delayed.
Let’s face it, no one wants to talk to their kids about cancer.
I’m glad we did, though.
Bonus Silver Lining: I didn’t have to fight with them over doing chores.
They pranced about happy to help me clean up the house.
We’ll see how long that lasts.
I give it less than a week.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!