Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Social Story

My four-year-old daughter peed all over herself and it taught me something about grief.  Yep, that’s usually how it works for me. 

Molly had to go to the bathroom and we were outdoors near the woods for a family outing.  I walk her over to the woods.  “But Dad, I have to go to the bathroom,” she says, as she looks around not seeing any buildings. “Trust me on this one.”  I say to her. I lower her pants and hold her little hands to balance her as I am about to put her in a sitting position so she can pee.  But before I can get her in position, she lets loose - while still in a standing position - soaking her pants, socks, and shoes.  I utter a quick “No, not ye…” but by now the flow is too strong to stop.  She looks at me with an expression of, “Not really sure I understand why you want me to pee all over myself, but you’re the expert.” 

            I stand there shaking my head in disbelief that Molly didn’t understand how to go to the bathroom in the woods.  Which brought up a very good question.  Did I ever teach her?  No I haven't, I just assumed that she would know how to in the woods.  Not sure why I thought that, I know Disney channel isn’t programming too many episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where they all go on a camping trip and take a leak in the woods – although it would make perfect sense for Pluto.

            I sometimes feel bad for Molly, for the youngest.  When we had Haley, Lisa and I spent so much time teaching her all the aspects of life – I even taught her about the Cubs / White Sox baseball rivalry. But now that Molly is growing up, I keep forgetting how young she is and how much she doesn’t know.

            It’s a good reminder for me when I have to deal with the loss of Lisa.  Over the past years I have spent so much time and effort with my older daughters, many talks and art projects and letters to mom have filled our past few years to understand what life is like without her.  Molly was only five months old when Lisa passed.  Right now she is not much older than Kelly was when Lisa passed.  How many assumptions have I been making that she knows Lisa is not around.  If you ask her she will tell you her mom is in heaven. But I haven’t done a good job going over, in detail, all that this could mean for her and for us.

            On some level I feel too exhausted from all the grief work to go over it again.  I don’t want to go back and have these same discussions with Molly.  But this is a good wake up call; I need to do a better job explaining the loss of her mom – geez, have I even mentioned that Lisa dying is not Molly’s fault?  I know I’ve told the other girls that a dozen times just in case they were having those thoughts.

            It’s challenging to know what goes through the mind of a young girl who is growing up never knowing her mother.  I need to bring out some old photos and start going over old talking points with her. If not, she might grow up not understanding some aspects of mourning and end up pissing all over her socks.


  1. Matthew - My daughter turned 1 year the day after her father passed. My boys were 9 and 6 so were well versed in baseball, Phillies and all things boys. I find myself thinking the same thing - how does she not know certain things. Oh, that must have been something my husband taught the boys.

    But, I will say that she is much more She has learned to figure things out on her own....via making mistakes....but still as a 3rd grader, I often receive comments from her teachers and other parents on her spirit, sense of adventure and independence. That is something I have taught her.....but not because I meant to :)

  2. Matt - I totally get it. Like you, I spend so much time making sure Jack was "okay" that I haven't given the same amount of attention to Quinn. He didn't have nearly as much time with his dad, and since he was so young, I didn't get a chance to grieve with him, as I did Jack.
    That's why I think it's just as important for Quinn to go to the groups for kids who have lost a parent, as Jack. I might find that I personally need it less, but his grief is probably just beginning, as he recognizes all that has happened in his life. Same for Molly.
    It's hard to go through it again, though. But am important point that you make - and like you said, a good wake-up call for those of us whose kids were really young.
    My boys however, seem to naturally know how to pee in the woods. :) Raw talent.