The past few weeks have been hard for us. Wife-features’ dad died. He was in his 80s and while that seems like a good innings it was rather sudden and upsetting for all.
We took our time and did a wee bit of research before breaking the news to the Bairn. Advice I found emphasised the need to be clear and avoid metaphors with young kids when describing death. Whatever you do, don’t say the person’s gone to sleep or your child will be terrified to ever go to bed again!
When we told the Bairn there was clearly sadness on her face and in her mind, and she said she understood. Moments later we were kicking a ball about and having a laugh. She hasn’t subsequently asked me about it.
Around the same time she’d asked Wife-features about zombies. Yes, that’s right. Four years old and asking about the living dead. Wife-features was disposing of some expired slugs in the garden at the time. A reassurance was given that the molluscs wouldn’t rise up and require a clean blow to the head.
First it was a pirate-themed party, then a zombie-fascination, and as I speak she’s having her face painted to look like a dinosaur’s. What next for my wee lassie? Dad, please can I stay up to watch Top Gear and break wind?
The loss of a family member is painful but it’s also reminded me of the importance of enjoying those around me now, and the thrill of the rollercoaster ride of being a dad. I’m in the process of booking a couple of weeks off work over summer, and was toying with doing what I did last year – I made sure one of the two weeks was when the Bairn was at nursery so Wife-features and I could spend some uninterrupted time together. “Date Week” I believe we called it. We went for walks, talked and generally reconnected.
This time I’m going for both weeks when the Bairn has holidays so we really make the most of our time together as a family. After all, there’s only one more year to go before school starts and – potentially – the missus is working again.
Yup, it’s a rollercoaster all right. And I’m holding on tight.