Before Christmas I took T out for a hot chocolate. He was feeling a little left out that H was at home with me as we are home educating H. He chose a cake as a treat, the seats we would sit in and we both settled down for a colouring in session as that’s one of his most favourite things to do.
After a discussion as to which colour should be used to colour the petals of a flower he looked over to another table and saw an older man sitting and reading his newspaper. T seemed bothered by this and I asked him what he was looking at and he said.
‘When you’re old, do you like newspapers? Since when you’re a child a newspaper seems like a LOT of writing…’
I said no that I like reading newspapers so you don’t need to be old at all.
He still seemed to be thinking about something and then he said,
‘I don’t want to get old as you die when you’re old…’
I was so saddened to hear him say this. I then talked about all the wonderful things that you can do and all the amazing things you can see and of how many people he has to meet yet and that is so much fun.
He wasn’t having any of it as he then said,
‘I’m the only one without a Grandma in my class and that’s so unfair.’
And that was it. That was what was really bothering him. It wasn’t the newspaper with all it’s words or the old chap who was reading it and it wasn’t even the thought of getting older that was making him sad.
It was missing Grandma.
I’ve learned that being 6 is a fabulous time of your life as everything is still pretty cool, adults are amazing things your very curious about and your older siblings are these bigger versions of you that you want to be when you’re older as they can do so many things you can’t.
Being 6 means endless days of cutting, sticking making and worrying about where you’ve left your yellow pen as it really would look fab on that flower.
6 year olds jump about, scream shout laugh and, above all, giggle their way through their days and fall into bed tired but happy cuddling Woody or a teddy or a blanket.
Being 6 shouldn’t mean you’re having to cope with loosing your Grandma after loosing Granddad 2 years exactly before.
It shouldn’t mean that you look at older people and fear what they are as you know what that means for the future and you shouldn’t have to try to work out why you are the only one in your class that doesn’t have a Grandma, because I know he will have asked all his friends and I know he will be right.
T is 6 and he knows all about death. He knows what happens to your body, he’s been to 2 funerals and watched all his relatives being so desperately sad and he’s sobbed his way through the last one. He knows we will scatter ashes, he knows that we will talk about those we’ve lost (he loves our ‘absent friends’ toast we had at Christmas) and he looks at the night sky on a starry night to find Grandma and Granddad so it’s not a case of not understanding death. For T it’s about learning how to deal with the feelings that all this has brought about; the sadness that he’s lost someone he loves, that he’s not the same as his friends. that he’s 6 and he can’t rationalise an older person having lived for many years and having a full and fabulous life. He can just just see the here and now and for him, that’s pretty pants.
I think this is actual heart of grief. It’s knowing what’s happened but being left with the muddled feelings to sort through.
O has done the anger ‘It’s not fair that they’ve died!!’ H has done the memories ‘We used to have coco pops for breakfast when we visited them…’ and T? Well T has done the tears.
Cuddles, talking and letting him go at his own pace is what we need to do but it’s hard watching your littlest man struggle with something you just can’t fix.