My sister and niece gave us such a clever Christmas gift. They filled a jar with slips of paper. Each slip has a question written on it. They also gave us a blank journal. We were instructed to pull out one of the questions each week and have each member of the family write his/her answer in the journal. At the end of the year, we would have a wonderful keepsake filled with all of our answers. The slips include questions like, “What is your favorite movie?” “Name five things you enjoy doing.” “Who is your best friend and why?” etc.
The other night at dinner, the kids wanted to pull out another question. We got, “Name something you own that is important to you and why is it important.” So the kids did their usual, “What do you think I am going to write? Guess! Guess!” We each took turns trying to guess what each other’s cherished possession was. They were all quite excited to participate and there was much exuberance – except for Landon. Landon was pretty quiet.
He said, “I’ll bet no one knows what I am going to write.” His siblings each guessed. His dad guessed. No one got it right. Then he looked at me and said, “What you do think it is?” I told him I knew what he was going to write. It was a very small t-shirt (far too small to fit him now) with a picture of a horse on it and he keeps it under his pillow. He looked shocked and then he said I was right. He asked how I knew and I said I pay attention. I am with the kids four days a week and I know what is important to them.
Then he took the book and wrote, “My favorite possession is my Native American t-shirt because my mom and dad gave it to me when they got back from a trip and it reminds me of when mom and dad were still together and I wish they were still together.” Ouch!
I certainly can’t blame a boy for wishing his folks were still together, but just like that it was as if he wished I didn’t exist. There were seven other people at the table and I was the only one who knew that the t-shirt was his favorite thing in the world and yet I did not know what it represented.
My husband and I talked about it later. He tried to tell me that Landon’s wishing his parents were still together didn’t actually mean he wished I did not exist. I suppose there may be some truth to that, but it is also pretty hard to take the fact that I can be a part of a family every day for nearly five years, we share meals and stories and vacations and adventures and yet at least one of the kids would still give it all up to go back to what he had before. Will he still feel that way five years from now? Ten years? Will he always wish that his mom and dad were still together? Sometimes even when it’s easy, it’s still hard.