The other day my 2 ½ year old came to me while I was working in my open office in my living room and said “daddy, I am sad.” Immediately I dropped everything I was doing, I grabbed him, hugged him tight, and placed him on my lap. Looking at him straight in his eyes, I couldn’t help but be concerned and shared his sadness. I asked him “Drey, why are you sad, pops?” Drey is his nickname, short for Andre, and pops is what I call him when he is exhibiting adult-like behaviors that show maturity way beyond his 2 ½ years. He looked at me with his eye wide open and his lips perked up and said “I don’t know daddy, I am just sad.” My heart melted right away, while holding back my tears I attempted to say something that could possibly soothe the aching heart of a 2 ½ year old, but my voice started to break. Before I could offer him some words of comfort, he said “daddy, are you okay?” He understood I was not okay at that moment, and without hesitation he reached over and hugged me: “daddy, do you feel better now?” he asked with empathy as he clearly understood how much I needed that hug.
That was it for me, I could not stop the waterworks. At that moment, I had so many thought going through my head that I still don’t remember them all. However, I do remember that I started to think how I failed as a parent, because I should be the one comforting my 2 ½ year old pops. I should be the one making sure he was okay and reassuring him that he had nothing to be sad about. I had to stop myself from allowing what I believed to be an evil thought to take root in my mind, because I did not fail him whatsoever. My wife and I did not fail our boys, we are not perfect but we do try to teach them empathy and how to express their feelings without fear of retaliation. We want our boys (Jay, short for Jamal, who is 11 and Drey) to be loving, caring, and understanding – we need to lead by example. We want them to know if they need to cry that it’s always okay to cry, because crying can be cathartic and therapeutic. Crying, as someone once said, is like a cleansing for the soul. I hope as many of us are spending so much time at home, we are creating an atmosphere where everyone in our families are not afraid to fully express how they feel. We may often think or say, as I have before, that kids have nothing to be sad about, nothing to worry about it, but adults are not the only one being affected by this pandemic. So, allow me to be an advocate for all of our kids, please check on them every day, talk to them, play with them, hug them, and allow them to be kids. After all, some of them may not be able to fully comprehend why they cannot see their little friends at daycare or elementary school – they may not be able to fully comprehend why they cannot see grandma, grandpa, aunty or cousins, whoever they cannot play with right now, but it doesn’t mean they are not affected by this whole thing. We are all in this together.
After that hug with my son, which last for a few minutes, when I finally calm down a bit, I said “I love you pops, do you want to go outside with me.” With a big smile on his face, he responded “yes daddy…” We spent about 15 mins putting on some warm clothes, because it was a little cold outside. Of course, we did not go anywhere far. We kicked around the soccer ball in the driveway, and sat down watching the sunset. As I attempted to explain to my 2 ½ year old pops that God created this beautiful view we both were enjoying – he said, “Thank you daddy, I feel better now.” And of course, I started crying again. We hugged each other, and went back inside for a late family dinner.
As I am sure many of you are already doing, I just want to remind you all to take the time to create memories together as a family. Maybe, God is using this unique time to bring families closer – maybe, God is using this time to remind us how much we need to appreciate each other more. Also, just like my little pops, it is very important for you to be able to have someone in your life you can share your emotions with and be real about everything without fear of retaliation or consequences.
Grace, Peace, and Love