Dad Will Kill Them Dead!
No one tells you about the joy and pain that children bring, at least not in a fashion that you can understand until you become a parent.
My heart aches and my fists are clenched. My daughter is going through a rough spot and I can’t just make it go away.
It is nothing permanent and I am not worried it is going to turn into anything bigger, but it doesn’t make it any easier to see her struggle a bit. Growing pains, a hiccup in the road caused by some changes and time at a new school. It won’t last.
She is as tough as nails, but she doesn’t see it. She doesn’t have the benefit of life experience to see what everyone else sees and it is ok, she will, but not yet.
In The Beginning
He asked me not to die and I decided to blog about it. It was December of 2004 and my son was weeks away from turning four.Â Who knew that a simple question would be the thing that led me to take blogging seriously.
Up to that point I was kind of screwing around. I hadn’t found my voice or developed a rhythm for writing. I was just improvising, which I guess I still do now, but without the focus I have today.
He wasn’t old enough to really understand death but for a short while it was on his mind and we talked about it. It helped prepare me for discussions that came later. When my daughter screamed “Daddy You Died” I knew just a little bit more than I had when I went through it with her older brother.
There have been many posts in which I chronicled the lives of my children.Â Some are simple tales and some relate stories about stolen innocence.
The longer I do this for the more grateful I become for this living journal of our lives.
Middle School Magic
He told me he didn’t want me to die but this time it was a very different discussion. He is in sixth grade now and very aware of the world around him.
We spent time talking about his history class and talked about war. One of his grandfathers is Vietnam Veteran who saw combat. Grandpa doesn’t talk about it much but his friends do and so my son has heard…things.
Today we touched upon some old discussions in which he had asked me about the draft. I told him it wasn’t active when I turned 18 but I had thought about it during the first Gulf War.
I was in college then and went to goodbye parties for friends who were Marines. The conversation shifted over to Iraq and the present. I mentioned I had heard about some security jobs there and that I knew people who had talked about taking them.
Combat pay. I told him that was what some of them were interested in. I said I had heard some people were making about $60k a month to work in very dangerous situations.
“Don’t go dad, I don’t want you to die.”
Honesty and Off The Cuff Talk
I looked at him and said he didn’t have to worry. I told him I was thinking out loud and that it wasn’t entirely fair for me to do that. I explained it was several years ago that I had had this conversation and that I wasn’t even certain if the money quote was accurate.
He tells me when he is older he wants to start his own business so I turned the conversation on its ear and talked to him about the importance of evaluating opportunities. Is it worth $60k a month to take a chance on getting shot? It sounds like a lot of money, but you can’t spend it if you are dead.
“Your job is to look at each opportunity and think about it. It might be as good as it sounds or it might be less. Sometimes it might be very bad. Your job is to look, listen and think.”
He nodded his head and I gave him a big hug.
My daughter was nervous when she went to bed. She heard the neighbor tell me about how some cars were broken into around the neighborhood and wanted to know if they would break into our house too.
It reminded me of a conversation her older brother had with me when he was really little. He told me if bad guys came I was to “kill them dead.”
I hugged her and told her I wasn’t worried about people breaking in. It was unlikely and I promised that the dog and I would protect everyone.
“Daddy, will you kill them if they try to hurt us?”
I didn’t say anything and hugged her instead.
“Daddy, that is a yes. You always get quiet when you are serious.”
I hope I never have to find out, but dad’s protect their families and sometimes thatÂ means killing the bad guys dead.
Hajra November 4, 2012 at 9:25 am
I don’t have children of my own so I can’t relate so easily. But I recently started volunteering at a hospital and I was assigned to the Pediatric Unit. I met a lot of kids with terminal illnesses and because I have been indulging in activities with them for over two weeks now, I feel some kind of attachment. I am afraid of losing those kids and I know that I will be facing it soon. But somehow they seem to be more acceptable to the fact that their days are numbered – they live each moment well, they have fun, they play, they learn.
I don’t think they understand the concept of death as such (most of them are under 7); but one of them mentioned how in a few days, he “won’t be around for mommy”. That is what breaks his heart.
And mine too.
Jack November 5, 2012 at 12:12 am
That is heartbreaking. The attachment to kids happens so very quickly. I am always amazed by how fast it can happen and how secure/strong/powerful it can be.
shannon November 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm
My daughter has anxiety about death. It shows up at bedtime.
It was easier when I believed in God.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm
How old is your daughter?
Joe November 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm
My worst nightmares are usually about someone doing harm to my children. I wake up enraged and have to remind myself that it was just a dream.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm
Sometimes I have similar dreams and the same reaction. I never understand people who don’t get fired up about their kids.
BigLittleWolf November 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm
You’re one of the Good Guys, Jack. Dads should indeed protect, as should Moms. But parents don’t always do so – sometimes unintentionally, other times through benign neglect.
Here’s hoping all our children will know the sort that protect enough (but not so much they don’t learn their necessary lessons). And here’s to that “living journal” as you call it. Remarkable, really, as we enjoy the privilege of chronicling not only our children’s lives, but so much of the world around us in the process.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm
I know you are absolutely correct, but it always throws me to hear/read stories about bad parents. So much of what I do is thought out and so much is based on instinct.
When a car came flying down the street I pushed the kids out of the way without thinking. It was just what had to happen. Since the car was 190 feet away it might have been a bit of an over reaction, but…
The blogosphere is fantastic. I never stop feeling thankful for its presence and gifts.
Brian D. Meeks November 2, 2012 at 5:52 am
Not having children, I can’t speak to what it is like to field such questions, but it seems to me you’ve got it figured out. I don’t like bad guys, so I’m quite fine with you killing them dead. Of course, being a romantic, I hope you choose to do it with something that really hurts, like big club with spiky things coming out of it.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm
Mace, maul, spiked club and Iron Maiden all come to mind, as does a flail. These are tools that can be used to encourage a significant attitude adjustment.
When the kids get a bit older I might include them in tales of how I handled the bad guys and saved the day.
Betsy Cross November 2, 2012 at 2:48 am
I had a similar conversation last summer with my daughter (10). She had been withdrawn for a while and I had no idea that her parents’ death was weighing on her. We were at the playground and her questions about the future caught me off guard. I had to be honest. I told her the truth and then I told her my plan. She smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. She just wanted to know that I didn’t have my head in the sand.
And then she trotted off to play.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 11:52 am
If we are healthy it is easy not to worry about dying because it feels a thousand years away from now and you don’t expect your kids to think about it because it is not something close to imminent.
But I wonder if maybe it is more prevalent then we realize. Maybe when we were young we thought about it too. When you are little and not sure who would take care of you if your folks weren’t around…
I love the image of your daughter trotting off to play. That is the joy of childhood right there.
Stan Faryna November 2, 2012 at 12:53 am
“I hope I never have to find out, but dadâ€™s protect their families and sometimes that means killing the bad guys dead.”
A great line.
Jack November 2, 2012 at 10:19 am
I really do hope that is where it stays. I don’t want the family to ever see the nasty side of me or other people.