This article was originally published on the College Park Patch as part of the weekly column by Gretchen Schock, Parenting on a Tightrope.
At that time we read every book from our public library about divorce and different styles of families. On this night, with moving on the horizon, my oldest son, who is on the spectrum, begins to tear up.
I ask what’s wrong and he just pulls me into a tight hug as I tuck him in for bedtime. I try to pull away slightly so that I can see his face, read his facial expressions. He just pulls me in tighter.
We remain in that pose for a few minutes. I quietly whisper in his ear all the things he is going to love about the new house. We’re only moving 5 minutes down the street. He’s going to remain at the same school. We will still shop at the same stores. Not much is really going to change in the grand scheme of things.
I can sense his breathing becoming steady, and as I pull away, I ask him again what’s wrong. And he simply says, “I feel sad.”
I nod. I understand his sadness. He doesn’t like change, and the feeling of not knowing what is coming next creates a lot of anxiety for him.
The next day as I drop him off at Before Care at school, I kneel down and ask, “Are you feeling okay about everything? About the move?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Why were you feeling sad last night?”
“I don’t know…we had a lot of fun at that house. I liked you there. You smile a lot there. Are you going to smile a lot at the new house?”
My eyes begin to tear up. I muffle out a “Yeah, I’m going to smile a lot at the new house too.”
He gives me a quick hug and then turns to join some kids playing with beanbags. I call out, probably too loudly, “I love you!”
“You too Mom,” he says over his shoulder.
As I walk to my car I think about how children and their observations once again amaze me. Though my ex-husband and I never fought in front of the children - we aren’t the yelling and screaming type to begin with - the kids saw more than we thought we were protecting them from. A simple smile gave it all away.
Have your children observed more than you were aware of?