Sunday, February 08, 2004

A disturbance in the Force

Never think the little people aren't perceptive. Today my 4-year-old was talking to a friend, and in that way kids have of trying to validate their theories, he slipped in that my friend does the same kind of work that "my Daddy used to do." I noticed it, but said nothing. My son apparently is working on a theory that I no longer have a career. On the face of it, this is odd, because a year ago I took a 6-week break and he had no anxiety about that. I have only been away from work this time for less than four weeks. The ironic thing is that in four years of vanishing on my kid every weekday, I felt pain and sadness about going away. I was sad that he would think of Daddy as someone who goes away. Yes, it was nice for him to see a role model of someone working. But basically I wanted to be around him more. Now, in the present situation, He may have overheard some phone conversation, or something, but we have been circumspect. So I assume he knows nothing about a medical problem. When I had several doctor visits in a row at the beginning of this saga, before the blog began, he did ask why I kept going to the doctor. I told him the doctors haven't looked at me in a long time and they want to check me out thoroughly. Around the time of the diagnosis, there must have been periods of lots of unnamed anxiety in our house, and snappy, distracted parents. I know I was snappy and impatient with him to an extra degree. The way I see it is that he sensed the anxiety, and noticed that Daddy went back to work for a week after Christmas and is now not going to work. Alone, either of these might be OK for him to cope with. But couple the Period Of Ill-Defined Stress with a sudden change in the definition of Daddy (Daddy not working?) and his internal Safety Calculator (not a conscious process) may have the impression that Daddy is somehow broken in some way and is no longer capable of being a computer programmer, or somehow no longer welcome at work. When your daddy has been defined as the guy who goes out the door in the morning and comes back after work to have dinner, that kind of change could be unsettling. I think I have already reassured him that I am physically well. Little people this age are concerned about the notion of death and often ask about people who have died or whether they will die. I made a point of carrying him around a lot recently and showing my strength in other ways. A young mind like his may equate strength with health, but regardless of that I just sense, now, that he is not worried that I am sick. So now it appears he worries that I no longer work, like normal daddies. It must be unsettling. Just like it would be if your mom suddenly stopped making sandwiches and cutting them into triangles.
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by