Not sure if I am saying the right things

This afternoon while at the pool, J told me to put out my arms as she was going to jump into them. I obliged for some reason, but quickly regretted it, as her weight put quite a strain on my back. I grimaced in pain, which made J feel bad, and she immediately said, "I don't want to get older. I just want to stay like this," amid tears. She then went on to say that she does not want to grow up and that she wants to always live with us. I told her, as I have before, that of course she can always live with us, but I also said that when she is a teen, she probably won't want to be near us. Then she will go on to college and have fun and again won't think home is so great. Eventually she may find someone to marry, and she will want to be with that person. And she may one day have kids and will love them as much as I love her and they will be whom she wants to be with.

Her response to this? "But when I have kids, you'll be dead." Sheesh, girl, it's not as if I am 60 or 70 now!

It is hard to reason with a child when she gets like this, and I don't pretend to have all the answers. Or any of them, really. She also asked what if heaven is not a nice place and the devil comes to take her/us? (Note to self, find out what the school is teaching her about the devil; or maybe she just has been paying attention at church.) I explained that the devil probably wants only the bad people, the ones who kill others and do other really bad things. And, of course, she asked how I know this, and how I know what heaven is like.

I don't know it. I just think it/this. Sometimes, anyway.

When Jordan was younger, I told her we (her family) would all die then walk into heaven at the same time. Was that a bad idea to do that? I don't think so. I wanted to ease her into death, and I started with that. I am not sure if that came before or at the same time I told her that only old people died. Then I stopped hiding the harsh realities of the world from her, at least some of them.

Some days when things get rough, I tell myself that there had better be a heaven, a better place, because this world is so sad and broken. I don't say this in a complaining, negative way. I truly try to be positive, look on the bright side, and count my blessings. But it just seems as if you can't go a day or more without reading about a shooting or someone lying about something. Forget the poor economy, the plethora of natural disasters, diseases and illness, and constant fighting/division in the world. If this place is as good as it gets, well, I just don't even want to think about it. But having faith in the afterlife (and my faith is not exactly strong, unfortunately) gives me hope. It reminds me that when I can't understand why this or that is happening, it is okay, because I am not meant to. I just have to keep trying to do the right thing to get to the right place.

Hopefully, J will be off this kick for awhile, because I don't see myself coming up with any satisfying answers. But I know this discussion (and angst) will come back; it always does. But I guess I can take solace in the fact that she now wants to be with me forever. I am afraid in the not-too-distant future, she will not feel that way.

Yeah, kid, I don't want you to grow up either.


Sherri said…
I remember going through this as a kid - crying because I didn't want to grow up. I think it will pass. I think the relationship she has with you must be so good that she just wants to know that you'll be together a long time. That you can probably reassure her with, using the same affection and doing the same fun things you always do. I tell my boys - when they also go down the "I want to live with you forever" road - that we'll all get older and we'll all be able to understand aging and death a bit more, and.... that we have a lot of ahead of us - whether we live together, apart or whatever! I have my oldest going to college in a year - and my youngest still in preschool. We will be dealing with distance sooner than we want to. It is hard.
I often feel paralyzed when my son asks me these questions. In the moment, I want to say whatever will comfort him most. But then I also feel like I don't want to set him up for even deeper heartbreak later on.

When my kids were babies, I thought it would never get any harder than the days of sleepless nights and non-stop nursing. How wrong I was. :)
Facie said…
Sherri: I am not sure I ever said or thought that I don't want to grow up, but I did think and/or worry about death and dying. It was different for me b/c I spent most Sundays as a child above a funeral home (my grandma's house). I will try that "we'll understand it better as we get older." It does make me feel better knowing that she wants to be with me. :-)

Kristen: My keeping things from her (or lying, really) has caused me some grief, but there were times I just thought she was too young to handle whatever it was. I hate that she now knows that there are people out there who abuse others, guns can kill (including children in schools), drugs and drinking too much can result in harm to yourself, others, jail, etc. It was indeed easier when she was a toddler. But I know how much harder it will get in a few years.
Jessica R. said…
I think I'm going through this in reverse. Logically I know that I will want Sarah to grow up and move out one day, but now I just can't imagine my home ever being without her! And seeing that from a kid's perspective where mom and dad are everything is even scarier.
Facie said…
Jessica: As it stands now, I would love for my kid to live with me forever and never grow up. I want to say those very things to her, but I don't, because I should say something close to what I did, I suppose. :-)
Anonymous said…
These moments are so tough! I too struggle with wanting to comfort my daughter in the moment while feeling like I need to be truthful at the same time.

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