Thought I’d start out with a funny since this post is probably going to make it onto my “softer side” page.
Noah’s been a tough little guy since the girls split. Tough in a lot of ways. Tough in the I’m mentally invincible and nothing can affect me sort of way, tough in the that didn’t hurt, sort of way, and tough in the I’m not going to admit to anybody that it’s hurting me right now sort of way. I think the truth is, he has no idea how to deal with the huge range of emotions going through him right now, so he’s doing what we pretty much all do best, which is to sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing life-changing has happened to him.
He finds ways to communicate though, and at my house, it’s usually through the dog. Dad, I think the dog is really sad. Why is that? ‘Cause he misses Carrie and Taya. Yeah, I bet he’s really sad, are you sad too? Yeah. What makes you sad? ‘Cause I miss them. I do too. It’s sometimes hard, huh. Yeah.
Another common way that he lets me know that he is struggling emotionally is to yell out to other random people in a comical sort of way…. Hey Noah, wanna go play with your friend? I want to play with Taya! Taya is my best friend! I love Taya! And then he looks around to see if he’s going to get in trouble for it, but all he does get is a room full of puppy dog eyes and hearts breaking with his.
I tell him constantly, it’s okay to be sad, Noah. Dad’s sad sometimes and if you’re sad, you can come talk to me about it, and I’ll help you feel happy again, okay? But, he still likes to act like a tough little boy that is impenetrable to anything. And tough he is.
Since all this happened, he’s had two big break-downs, both when his little emotions were just too much that they couldn’t be contained, and both revolved around losing his two favorite things in the world. The first was his trampoline. It got taken with all the other stuff the night the girls moved out. When Noah went into the backyard the next day and saw that it was gone, he had a complete break-down. Not a single bit of it was tantrum (believe me, any parent knows the difference). It was straight-up heartbreak, and he just kept saying over and over, “I told Carrie a thousand times don’t take the trampoline. Don’t take the trampoline.” Noah’s and my favorite thing to do together was go jump on the trampoline and play dinosaur or bucking bronco, and after the girls split, it became the number one place we’d go where we could just forget about things. There wasn’t much I could do except hug him and promise him we’d get another one when we had more money.
And then came Noah’s last straw. The final weight to break his emotional little back.
I’d been talking-up our upcoming camping trip for over a week, and a huge part of that was talking up how much fun we’d have fishing. If there was ever something he loved to do with dad as much as jumping on the trampoline, it was fishing, and he loved his little Lightning McQueen fishing pole more than anything else he owned. And then we went out together to get his fishing pole out of its usual spot in the garage, but it was gone. And dad had to open his big mouth without thinking first and say, uh-oh, it looks like Carrie took your fishing pole when they moved. The speed from which Noah’s eyes went from normal, to grapefruit-sized, and then to the most heartbroken expression I’ve ever seen was less than a second. I could hear the pieces of his heart fall by the thousands and he started crying inconsolably and hysterically. “Not my fishing pole, Dad. Not my fishing pole.” It didn’t matter how many times I told him, don’t worry, we can go get a new one, the damage had been done. It was something he thought was untouchable and it had been taken from him. I just held him as he clamped around my neck and cried so long that he had no tears left, and then I held him some more. “Why?” He just kept asking. “Why did she take my fishing pole?”
And for that one, I didn’t have an answer. Just a solution. But maybe answers aren’t needed. Maybe moments like these are a good part of his grieving process and ultimately healthy for him. Maybe he needs to cry, just like we all need to cry sometimes. Maybe he’ll walk away from each experience knowing that no matter what people do, no matter what they take away, and no matter who leaves, daddy never will, and daddy is constant, and Daddy can fix just about anything.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing