The other day my 11 year old son came up to me and said "Mom, I'm mad at Steve's doctors." I asked him why he felt this way, and his response was "I don't know why they won't just fix his back and be done with it. Why does he have to wait and wait and wait?" It was then that I realized we had never explained to him that Steve was not going to get better and that the doctors had done all they could do.
He was so upset. When Steve and I got together, my son was 6 years old. Steve and he had a lot of fun goofing around in swimming pools, wrestling, and just "being boys." Over the years, the horse play has slowed down to nothing. It never occurred to me that it was missed.
Steve and I talk so much about his pain levels, doctors appointments, surgeries and medications that when we are hanging out with the kids, we try to avoid the subject. I realized that was wrong. That the older one, at least, should have some explanation for what has happened and why it is never going to go back to the way it was.
Our younger two really don't know any different. They have never had a Dad that wrestled with them. They are so used to Daddy lying on the couch, that they are slightly confused when he does play with them or take them to the park.
After that conversation with the 11 year old, I also realized that we have to be more careful about what we talk about in front of the younger two. And how we act around them. We often forget that they understand more than we think they do.
For example, when our four year old wants attention, he starts walking with a limp and complaining that his back hurts. That's also how he attempts to get out of doing chores or anything he doesn't like. He's just simply used to Daddy getting to lie down when his back hurts.
Steve and I had a long discussion about this over the weekend. We are trying to make it a more positive environment around here. (More about that tomorrow). We don't want the kids to grow up with a "sick" Daddy. We want them to just grow up with a "Daddy". It will be a work in progress, but with some positive thinking and some intentional living, I think we can change it around.