By: Wendy Rhein
This passed weekend we celebrated Nate’s birthday with three of his buddies. In typical Nate fashion he wanted an event unlike any other. That dream was translated into an afternoon picnic and romp at an old battlefield fort, now a national landmark. Each of the four seven-year-old boys had his own compass, his own canteen, and a bandana to tie over his head as they explored and played spy games around Civil War era cannons.
As we trekked to our picnic site from the car, each kid carrying something we needed, one of the boys asked Nathan about his father. Before Nate could answer, the same child turned and asked me, “Nathan doesn’t have a father, right?” I replied that yes, he does in fact have a father but he’s not part of our family. Another boy chimed in, “yea, that happens. Same with my cousin, except he has two moms now.” Yes, I said, that’s a family too. “Yea. And sometimes parents have to leave. They can’t stay married even when they love their kids.” Yes, I said. Sometimes that happens too. The third boy asked Nate, “so where is he, your father?”
“He’s in another state. I don’t see him. But my mom keeps the door open just in case we want to see each other when I’m older. Right Mom? (with a big smile on his face and a slight leaning into me) You keep that door open.”
I could not have been more proud in that moment. Proud of how these boys talk to each other and to me. Proud of how they can acknowledge how their lives are different and the same as other people’s. And incredibly, abundantly, and gratefully proud of my own child’s confident response.
Yes, love, we keep that door open.
No fears, no worries, just the honest truth.
And off they ran, this band of brothers, to tackle the fantasies of invisible enemies and “us versus them.” It gave me hope that the “us” is widening and expanding with each year as these boys and others like them grow into men.