The 3 Most Difficult Conversations (So Far)
The top three difficult conversations I've had with The Boy (so far):
1. What the "n" word means
This conversation was difficult because I realized that despite my progressive way of life, there were times that I used the word with little to no thought about the meaning and connotation. I've watched TV shows that liberally used the word, sang songs (loudly I might add) with the word, and laughed when I watch The Boondocks, quoting a particular episode while describing it to my sister. The Boy is around, the whole time, sucking it in.
Fortunately, the Boy hasn't had his "n" word moment yet. This is the moment when someone sneers this word at you because of their own ignorance and hatred. As of now, the Boy's exposure to the word has been as a noun "Come here, N*****", as an adverb "N***** behavior" and as an interjection for foolish actions "N*****"
The Boy is small and wiry, and because of his high pitched voice and penchant for fart jokes, I forget that he is 10. The Mister and I do our best to expose the kids to both a seedy world and a culture enriched world. The world around him sometimes thinks otherwise. The conversation I had with him last summer was a reminder for both of us.
2. Why we die
When my Father-in-law passed away, that was tough for the Boy. Although he stayed on the receiving end of "Stop that!," the Boy loved his grandfather. A few months later, in a one, two, three punch, my mom, aunt and uncle were admitted into the hospital. Because kidney disease has wrecked havoc on their systems, the three are suseptible to infection and long hard recoveries. These complications require long stays in the hospital which in turn means we have to visit. Having accompanied me to the hospital to see my FIL, the Boy was squeamish about hospital visits. Not only are they boring, but I think the allure of free juice and Graham crackers has been replaced with boredom which leads to many pleas to "Let's just go!" I didn't press the issue because I'm squeamish around hospitals myself. Explaining death to a kid is tough. If you don't use the right words, you can keep them up half the night with the "Why am I here?" refrain. Or, if you use scripture, you can screw up someones theology.
3. Why Father P is no longer around
I liked Father P. He always ribbed me for my love of the Dallas Cowboys, feigning that he would not speak to me unless I took the offending Cowboys items off. He listened intently when I went through each of my crisis of faith, offering the best scripture for me to read and a kind ear despite me not being Catholic. He told me the Boy was doing well, and I worried too much.
Now I have to go back and dissect every conversation, because Father P has been accused of inappropriate behavior.
I looked forward to attending Mass this year. In the past, I was either too busy or too blue to make it to the Boy's school. There's something comforting about sitting in the massive building, the faint smell of incense, the slight chill in the air. Watching the children squirm as they strive to be still so they could make it through one more service.
This year's service started late and Not Father P (I don't remember his name) officiating over service. He spoke of fasting, alms, and praying. NFP also spoke of secrets. After Mass, he dropped a whopper of a secret. In a recent scandal, 21 priest were relieved of duty. Father P was one of the 21.
Shoulders slumped, jaws dropped, questions were asked. As the news penetrated my mind, I was sad and angry. Sad because if he isn't guilty, his name would forever be linked to vile actions. Angry because if the allegations are true, the powers that be placed children, my CHILD, in harm's way. When I asked The Boy about Father P and how he felt, he shrugged. Because we aren't Catholic, The Boy was never tapped to become an alter boy. As part of the lower school, The Boy didn't have much interaction with Father P. Father P mainly dealt with the upper school kids.
Phone calls from other parents begin to trickle in the day after it happened. They were angry that they had to find out from the local news and not the place where we pay our tuition. Some planned to pull their kids and demand reimbursement. Some wanted to strangle Father P. Some demanded that the school address the issue and allow for an opportunity to vent and ask questions.
Despite the uncomfortable task of having to answer if Father P touched them in their private parts, said anything inappropriate , or asked them to do something that they were then supposed to keep secret, the kids seem to be taking his absence in stride. The change doesn't affect them as much as it affects the adults. The Boy is still full of feet, farts and funk jokes, still retaining his innocence (as much as a kid in 2012 can retain). It sickens me that I have to have this conversation at all, but especially during such a spiritual time.
The next biggie...the birds and the bees. That I may leave to The Mister. I'm a little talked out.
Raya Fagg is a mom of two from Upper Darby, PA. This post is adapted from her blog And Starring As Herself…MRSRFKJ.