Hey- I nearly forgot what happened yesterday! When I went to fetch Damien, the woman who looks after him was already at the gate chatting to another mom, and when she called for Damien, her 9yo son came running down the driveway while Damien was getting his stuff together. He showed me a picture that he had drawn of a car & said Damien had helped him with the flames on the side of the car.
Then he said: “Where’s Damien’s dad?”
Now, this is NOT the first time I’ve heard this question, but it floors me every time nonetheless because it catches me unawares!!
So I said: “He doesn’t have one sweetie.” Me maintaining a very matter-of-fact tone of voice, I mean, this is nerfectly pormal right?!?!?!
“Oh. Damien says he’s never seen his father” says the 9yo.
I replied “That’s right, he hasn’t”.
“Why not?” he asks.
By now Damien was at the car and climbing in with all his baggage and the 9yo’s mom had come to my window too.
“Because we split up before Damien was born.” I replied.
I often forget when dealing with kids who ask this question that usually, even if the parents were never married, the kids still see their dad every other weekend or month or school holiday. Divorce and weekend parenting is nothing new to our generation’s children. But not knowing your dad at all is a new one to a lot of kids unless they’re in the same kinda boat.
“What did he ask…?” says 9yo’s mom, catching the tail end of the conversation and suddenly concerned that he had been asking embarrassing questions. I quickly explained in the minimum of words and as lightly as possible that he had just asked where Damien’s dad was. Then we left. In the car I asked Damien how it had come up. He said that while they were drawing the 9yo had asked if Damien’s dad was an artist. Damien said “I dunno.” And it went on from there. Whenever Damien and I talk about his father I’m never sure exactly how much to say or ask. So I bit the bullet and asked him how he feels when someone asks him about his father. Is he hurt, or offended, is he sad, does he feel upset? Essentially, he implied that he is indifferent. Maybe he is after all this time, but I still worry about it!
There Is Never An Excuse
One in three is not a statistic - one in three is a crying shame.