Monday, August 24, 2015

I get so emotional, baby

We try to read to our four-year-old every night. Usually it goes well, but one night this week I found myself crying uncontrollably.

I was reading him The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc. It's about the eponymous lion who takes in an injured bird and nurses it back to health. A sweet story, only when you buy this book they don't tell you that around page 22 you'll find this picture:
After he is all healed, the bird thanks the lion and then he flies away. Nobody warned me about this. It was not on the back cover, nor was it mentioned on either of the cover flaps. The Kirkus review neglected to say that after 21 deceptively sweet pages I would suddenly and painfully realize that the book was about my son eventually leaving home. I wasn't ready for it, and I started to weep bitterly. My son got worried and, hearing the silence, my wife came in and said, "What the heck are you reading?"

That stupid picture just started this horrifying avalanche of panicky thoughts in my brain: I need to do so much better at this parenting thing. I'm too grouchy and need to pay closer attention. The time is going too fast! Stop time. MUST. STOP. TIME. He's too innocent and sweet to go out into the world. I'll just tell him that everyone just lives at home with their parents forever, and when his friends tell him that they're moving out to go to college I'll tell him they're lying.

My emotions are more raw and close to the surface now that I have kids. I worry about them. Has this happened to anyone else? It's embarrassing and I need to pull it together. I didn't see my dad cry until I was 30 and had a child of my own, and it was at my grandmother's funeral, and even then I don't think he even shed actual tears, just got a little choked up while he was speaking about her. My son saw me cry 24 years too soon.

Eventually the bird comes back for a little while to do his laundry or whatever and it's sort of a a happy ending, but I was still upset.

Yes, I cried, but try reading something like this to your adorable four-year-old and see how well you do.