Tuesday, January 13, 2009

His Secret

Josey got off the school bus yesterday and moped his way into the house. He complained that he didn't feel well, but couldn't specify what felt bad other than a vague wave at his head. He said he hadn't hit his head or gotten hurt in any way, so I wondered if someone had been mean to him and he was reluctant to tell me. After much probing, he insisted that nothing had happened and that everyone at school was nice to him. Later on he had a bit of a fever and complained of a bad headache ("like there's a bowling ball smashing around in my head!" - how descriptive) and dizziness so I gave him some tylenol and he was fine for the rest of the night.

I stayed up late studying, and when I finally went to bed I lay awake wondering if something really had happened. What if an older kid had hurt - or worse, MOLESTED - him and told him that something bad would happen if he told anyone. I fought the urge to go in and wake him up and finally fell asleep, vowing to have a talk with him in the morning.

When he woke up I was already downstairs with Tristan sleeping on me (a new game - wake up at 5:30 and insist on going downstairs, then pass out on Mommy while she sits uncomfortably on the couch watching infomercials). I heard him thump out of bed, go into our room, then begin to cry when he couldn't find me. Assuming this new behaviour was because of the imagined horrible incident yesterday I quietly called out to him so he knew where I was. He was happy to find me and snuggled up close to us.

I took a deep breath and wondered how to go about introducing the subject without scaring the bejeezus out of him and decided to go the "secret" route. There are some good secrets, I explained, like knowing what Roanen's Christmas present is and not telling him, or planning a surprise party for Daddy's birthday. Then there are bad secrets - secrets that don't make you feel nice and excited inside. If someone tells you that something is a secret and it doesn't make you feel good, then it's important to tell someone you trust, like Mommy or Daddy or Grammie or Grampa, or even your teacher, so that the bad feelings can come out instead of staying inside and making you feel yucky. You won't get in trouble, and we'll be very happy to know, even if it's about something bad. He listened without commenting or asking any questions so I let it go for the time being.

All was fine this morning. He played as usual, but became quiet and thoughtful at lunch. All of a sudden he looked at me and said "Mommy, you know how we were talking about good secrets and bad secrets this morning?" My breath caught in my throat and my heart started beating faster. How was I going to deal with what he was about to tell me? This was huge. "Yes Buddy, what about it?"

He paused for a second, then leaned across the table and looked at me with big, serious eyes. Then he whispered:

"Can we please have a surprise birthday party for Daddy?"

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