I come to you for advice now...this is something that I’ve started having to deal with almost daily...and I’m really not sure what to do anymore. I’ve tried to address it the best that I can, but I’m running out of ideas on what to say next. Seven-year old kids ask the BEST questions...and have the biggest fears.
Let me back up about two years...my daughter was around 5 at the time, and B and I had been dating for about 6 months. B had come over after work one evening and taken J and I out to eat, and we were riding in his truck headed back to my apartment. Everything is fine – we’re laughing and joking – had a yummy meal at Chick-Fil-A with no problems whatsoever. So imagine my surprise when I glance over my shoulder to the back seat where J was sitting to check on her and find her in tears. Like not just baby tears, but BIG crocodile tears streaming down her face and she’s almost sobbing out loud.
Shocked, I ask what’s wrong and the answer that I get surprises me. I’ll try to make this short and sweet and condense where I can...she tells me that she’s upset because she doesn’t want to ever have babies. This is not what I’m expecting to hear, and on further discussions (like an hour later) I find out the full story. Apparently a friend of J’s dad was pregnant at the time and she (who did NOT have any other children or any experience with kids before) decided to tell MY child where babies come from. Not the specifics about how they’re made (thank God that she had a little bit of sense!) but where they grow and exactly how they come out. In FULL detail. Details that I’m sure you can imagine would scare the beejeezus out of a five year-old little girl who innocently asked how did the baby get out of your belly.
Now, I’m not 100% certain, but I feel fairly confident in saying that most people who already have kids or at least some experience with children know that you don’t tell a 5 year-old the whole truth. You sugar coat it a little bit with magic. It’s not lying to them, it’s putting things into their perspective. And telling a 5 year-old that a baby comes out where you pee and rips you open and they sew you back up isn’t really what I want my child to be told at that age. Yes, I want to be honest with her about things, but at the age of 5...you have to restrict the flow of information and ease them into certain things. At the VERY least, you check with the child’s parent BEFORE you explain things in true, accurate detail...which this woman did not do. Or so I was told.
I calmed J down that night after several hours and assured her that she didn’t have to grow up, get married and have babies if she didn’t want to...and she made me give her a list of people that I knew that were my age and without kids –she’s smart, I tell you! I finally calmed her down, and just assumed that with the passing of time that she would “forget” about her horror at what she had learned. (What was I thinking? She stills prays for the cat that got “lost” over almost two years ago…) Or at least that some of the graphicness would fade a bit, sort of like a scary movie. But it hasn’t. At all. She still adamantly says (two years later) that she will NEVER have kids because she doesn’t want them coming out where she pees.
When I learned that I was pregnant, I was really hoping that being there with me through this pregnancy would ease some of her lingering fears and concerns. She’s VERY excited to have a new baby brother (even if she really wanted a baby sister) and is counting down the days until the baby arrives...it’s a slow process, because if you remember time passes MUCH slower when you’re a kid. So I’ve been really hopeful that this time was helping things...
Until the other night, that is. I was tucking her into bed, and she told me that she had decided that she really didn’t want this baby anymore. Knowing how disappointed she was to find out it was a boy and not a girl, I teased her a little bit about it, and we moved on to another subject, but on a deeper level it bothered me as a Mom. There’s inevitably going to be resentment when a new sibling arrives on the scene, and I don’t want to have to handle it for 5 months before the baby even gets here! Soon after, I covered her up, tucked her nice and tight and we said our goodnight prayers. The baby was included in her prayer. So maybe everything was ok?
I asked her about it and she explained to me that she meant to say that she still never, ever wanted to have babies and in fact, instead of my pregnancy helping her fears, she’s got more of them now – specifically dwelling around me and what might go wrong when it’s time to have the baby.
I curse this woman almost daily, just in case you’re wondering.
I’ve tried to be honest with J. I’ve explained to her (not in great detail) that you can do things to not have babies. I’ve also tried to explain that a doctor is with you when you have a baby and they give you medicine so that it doesn’t hurt – we didn’t go into the option for home birthing, needless to say. Or choosing to have a natural birth – it’s not something that would soothe these fears right now that she’s having. I thought that maybe knowing these things would help J would come to grips with this fear of hers. Instead, she’s just worried now that the doctor won’t be at the hospital in time to give me the medicine...or what if the shot hurts too much...or what if, what if, what if? The list goes on and on...and I’m not really sure what to say anymore. I assure her over and over that those things won’t happen, that everything was perfectly fine when she was born, so why would things be different this time around...but I just feel like maybe there’s more that I could be doing/saying.
So I turn to you, my blogging friends. What would you do in this instance? Is there something else that I can say to help her out? Or have I done all that I can do, and time and maturity will eventually help her overcome this intense struggle that she’s dealing with right now?
And it is intense. She’s visibly upset and worried about the process of having babies one day. And not the same kind of worry that she gets about what shirt to wear...she’s really, REALLY concerned about this, and I don’t want to blow it off and make her feel like it’s not a valid concern for her to have. Because it’s real to her. And that makes it important to me.
What else can I say? What haven’t I thought of? Thanks in advance for anything that you can think of...