Big Brother is 4 years old, although I have been known to say that he’s 4 going on 54. He’s outgoing and gregarious, and has a tendency to walk up to complete strangers and talk to them about the weather. (As a note: I don’t do either of these things.)
He’s loves to make noise (he even talks in his sleep) , he tells jokes about underwear and bottoms, and wants to be a super-hero when he grows up. (He used to want to be a policeman, but they don’t wear capes.) He loves jigsaw puzzles, colouring books, dress-ups, hide-and-seek, pillow fights, football games and running across open fields. He’s loud, competitive, and prone to running into walls, falling out of trees, and tripping over his own feet.
But he’s also incredibly thoughtful and sensitive. I don’t know if that’s normal for a 4-year-old boy. Maybe some of you other parents can let me know.
A few months ago, I took Big Brother and Baby to visit my parents for a week. (Sadly, Husband had to stay home and work.) One night, Nana was reading Big Brother a bedtime story when she called me into his room. “You better talk to him,” she said.
When I went in, poor little BB was almost in tears. “What’s wrong?” I asked, scooping him up to snuggle on my lap.
He looked at me seriously, sniffing away his tears and said, “You’re not going to love me anymore.”
I stayed my urge to give him a general reassurance and asked, “Why do you think that?”
The tears started flowing freely as he said, “Because you think I’m perfect the way I am. But I’m growing up. And when I grow up, you won’t love me anymore.”
That’s the kind of sensitive my little boy is. It’s not always easy to handle these moments, but I’m pretty good at understanding how he feels. He’s not too different from me as a kid.
But sometimes he surprises me. Sometimes, I’m just not prepared for his questions and concerns. And those are the times I learn how well I cope under pressure. There’s no “come back later” option when you’ve got a distraught 4-year-old on your lap.
A few nights ago, we were chatting and eating at the dinner table, and Big Brother said out of nowhere, “Poppy died, because he’s not part of our family anymore.”
Conversation stopped. Cutlery was put down. Husband and MiL looked from BB to me. “Why do you say that?” I asked gently.
“Daddy said that Poppy died.”
I nodded, and reached out to take BB’s hand. “That’s right, Sweetie. Poppy died a long time ago. He was Daddy’s Daddy. But he’s still part of our family, even though he died.”
Big Brother looked up at me with tears in his eyes and asked, “Am I going to die? I don’t want to die.”
Nothing prepares you for that.