We live in a suburb of Chicago. It is a relatively small town, where most everyone knows everyone else. Except for the ten years we lived in Texas, I have been here my whole life. My parents have been in the same house for 31 years. Many families have been here that long or longer.
One of the rites of passage of summer is going to Dairy Queen or "DQ" as we refer to it. For as long as I can remember it has been a gathering spot. When I first moved back, I had run into so many old friends there picking up a cone or dilly bar. It is one of the perks of being in a small town. Families gather and share ice cream. Sports teams go there after games and practices. It is an institution in the community. I grew up meeting friends there for DQ.
Tonight, we had dinner then went to mom and dad's so that Munchkin could play with Nana's new puppy--which is an entirely different post.
When we got in the car, he asked to go to DQ. I acquiesced Well, while I am used to running into my friends there, I was totally unprepared for my social butterfly to start running into his buddies! But there they were no less than 4 boys he knows either from school or TaeKwonDo.
While I visited with the other parents, he visited with his friends. All was right in the world. Well, until one of the little boys asked me if Munchkin's daddy really died. I thought the mother was going to collapse. I said that yes he did, and the little boy did not believe me.
Now, I have gotten used to the idiocy of grownups in asking dumb questions, but the realization that my son would have one of his friends doubt something that he says. That hurt. It made my heart hurt for him. I know that he doesn't completely grasp things yet, but he will. One day, he will realize exactly what it means that someone he calls a friend would think that he would make up a story about his dad being dead.
While I know that it is no reflection on us whatsoever, and I know that this other little boy is likely lucky enough to have no reference point of death in his life, so hearing that someone else lost something as central to his life as a father has to seem incredulous to him, I am not sure that my son will have that same level of understanding when he starts to "get" it.
The mother was profusely apologetic. At this point my Munchkin was conversing with one of his TaeKwonDo buddies. She apologized again and her son asked me if he really did die. The mom and I exchanged a look, I bent down and told him that yes, Munchkin's daddy did die and that sometimes that happens.
The mother thanked me for being so kind and apologized again. I told her that it was OK and that her son probably has never known anyone who died so it is a foreign concept to her. She told me that was true and then again commended me for my composure and kindness. Really, I was just showing her child the compassion that I would like others to show to mine.