Home > Family, Love, Parenting, Personal > Most people choose their families

Most people choose their families

My five-year-old son held up an old-fashioned Japanese toy hut.

He asked a bunch of questions about why people would fight for such a thing. I laid next to him on his bed and listened to all his questions. I began answering when he finally paused.

“Well, usually people fight for their homes,” I answered. “Once upon a time, far, far away, this was what people’s homes looked like.”

“Hmm. What happened if they didn’t fight?” He rolled the hut around in his hands.

“If they didn’t fight, usually it was because they chose their family. Someone wanted their house, so they ran away with their family. To keep their families safe. Because you can build–”

“–a house,” he finished, “but you can’t build a person again. Unless you do it with a machine, and then they’re a cyborb.”

“Close,” I laughed. “A ‘cyborg.'”

His brows suddenly furrowed. Grimly, he asked, “Did some people choose their house?”

I sighed. I never, ever feel like I answer these questions right.

“Yes,” I finally answered. “Some people chose their houses. But most people chose their families. That’s how it is even today. Most people choose their families.”

I watched his eyes start shimmering with tears. He rolled over and clutched his toy beagle close to his belly.

“I will always choose my family,” he told me.

“That’s a wonderful choice,” I replied, stroking his face with the back of my fingers.

Because I don’t know when to leave well enough alone, I said, “You know, if you have to choose between your safety and me and Daddy, it’s OK to choose your safety. Someday you’ll have your own partner, and your own kids who’ll make you laugh and love and sniffle–”

“Mommy, stop it. Stop it. You’re making me cry. You always make me cry.”

“I’m sorry, Sweetie. I just want you to know it’s OK. We’re always with you, me and Daddy. Always. In your heart.”

“Please get Daddy.”

“OK,” I told him, extricating myself from his limbs. “I’ll get Daddy.”

“But have him wait a minute so I can stop crying.”

“Sweetie, your daddy cried on national TV. He won’t care if you’re crying.”

He ignored me. “Don’t let him in yet.”

“OK.” I leaned over and gave him a forehead kiss. “I love you more than anything, Sweetie. More than anything.”

He nodded solemnly.

As I left his room to collect his Daddy, I wished once more that I’d opted to answer his questions with a little less truthiness and a little more finesse.

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  1. July 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Ah, stop fretting. What could be better than honesty, intimacy, love and family–and a great chance to talk about the important stuff. I say job well done!

    Do you know the book Free to Be You and Me? I love when Rosie Grier (sp?) sings “It’s All Right to Cry.” Does anyone remember him and the book?

  2. July 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Honesty, caring and love outclass finesse any day. Every day.

  3. July 15, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Why would you ever ever ever want finesse over truth? You are wonderful, exactly the way you are. Loving you.

    • July 15, 2015 at 4:49 am

      With a five-year-old’s from-the-blue questions, sometimes I want to cushion and present a small shade of the truth in introduction to the fuller truth later. Though that’s my want, in these moments: to lay the groundwork without the tears. (But I should know by now his follow-up questions find all the soft spots in initial explanations anyway!)

  4. July 15, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Choosing to truth-tell is another way of choosing family.

  5. July 15, 2015 at 10:12 am

    What a beautiful, tender exchange. I think you handled it perfectly. Such a beautiful post!

    • July 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you on both counts! 🙂

      I feel glad today for how last night’s conversation went. Momentary second-guessing passed, and then we awakened to smiles (after typical morning growls) and excitement for what’s right here and now.

  6. July 15, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    What a beautiful little heart he has ❤

  7. July 17, 2015 at 6:46 am

    I think honesty should always win, and what a special little guy he is!

    • July 18, 2015 at 6:03 am

      I agree in principle, if sometimes I feel sad–in the moment–that he must ever learn such sad truths. Better he learn them, for sure, and do it in an environment of support than alone or cruelly.

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