We had Braedan’s first official school conference yesterday and, among other glowing compliments, his teacher said he is one of the happiest children she has ever known. “Always happy and always positive,” were her words.
Through my years as a classroom teacher, I have glimpsed the inner lives of many different types of children, each with their various strengths and weaknesses, each with their own individual comforts or struggles, and I always knew that I would most want to parent a child who was the happiest and the nicest over one who was the smartest. And trust me when I say they are rarely the same child! Many happy and kind children are also very bright and very conscientious students, as I know Braedan also is, but I don’t think I ever had a class where the very smartest kid was also the nicest, most well-adjusted or well-liked child.
So I am thrilled that my boy is so happy and that he both likes and is liked by his teachers and classmates. And, man, I hope it stays that way.
We talked with him the other night about the possibility (probability) that Austin’s cancer has returned and what that might mean for us all. I told him, as we have many times before, about all the emotions he might feel — anger and jealousy and sadness and fear and maybe, just maybe, abandonment — and how okay they all are and how open we are to hearing about them. We talked a little bit about dialysis and when I mentioned that Austin wouldn’t pee for two years, Braedan, like any typical almost-six-year-old boy, dropped his jaw and said, “But will he still . . . poop?”
After explaining how a kidney works (in my best kindergarten language) I said that Austin wouldn’t be allowed to drink very much and my sweet Braedan said, “But won’t he be thirsty?” Oh yes, Little B, oh yes. And later, I cautioned that we hadn’t yet told Austin any of this and he said, with great conviction, “Oh, I don’t think you should.” I agreed, offering up what Braedan could already sense, that it was too vague and too scary for Austin to have to hear before we knew if it was really happening.
So we will move forward from today with these images of our two children, happy and kind and able and good, and will carry that as our goal.