Eight weeks of Papaw’s duty in some distant island.
In December. The most special month of the year. Birthdays, anniversary, Christmas, and New Year would have to be spent apart. Us on this distant island, Papaw on another.
It’s hard not to make a big deal out of it.
Especially when the kiddo is on maximum level of attachment with his papaw, and has been intensely idolizing him. The first week hadn’t even passed when one evening D suddenly stopped playing his legos and reached out to me, sobbing. He sobbed increasingly louder, eventually inconsolable. I asked him what was wrong (though I kinda already knew, I just wanted him to learn to recognise his feelings). Here’s what he answered:
“My heart hurts, Mommy, it hurts badly. I feel the devil’s hitting my heart, it really hurts. Huhuhu....”
Hearing such raw description hurts my heart too. I felt helpless. How was I supposed to comfort him: “Oh it’s OK, dear, Papaw will be home in about 7 weeks”? >_<
Adults can text, send instant messages, etc and keep in constant touch nearly all day long. But all the kid has are some short, interrupted phone calls (because of bad signal) and a few pictures his Papaw sent over blackberry. Skype’s not possible because hubby barely has internet connection working there. Video calls are unspeakable luxury (how do you make any video call when even phone calls rely solely on the mercy of current signals? And besides, the cost...).
Every time D heard the sound of our neighbours opening their fences, he would stop whatever he was doing, and asked me, “Is that papaw coming home?” Because that was usualy the first hint of papaw’s coming, the sound of him unlocking the padlock and sliding our metal fence open.
Right before hubby left, I came across this cool blog, thus got the inspiration to make this:
|Our "Countdown Sticks"|
The idea is I placed eight sticks into this bottle, each stick represents a week of Papaw’s being away. We would get a stick out every week, so that Darren would get the idea how much longer it is until papaw comes home. I told him that after we take the last stick out, meaning the next day we would go pick up papaw at the airport (crossing my fingers for no flight delay or cancel!).
Before that, D seemed clueless about how long papaw would be away.
We also crossed out each day on the calendar, just like he usually did at school. But somehow that didn’t cut it with him. So the countdown sticks have been better.
Originally, Kristen, the blogger whose blog I mentioned before, would write fun stuffs on the sticks, so every time they took out a stick, they would go do what was written on it. I couldn’t follow suit, because D has such a rigid way of thinking. When we say we would do A at a certain time, he would insist on doing A, no matter what.
“Insist” here means: “Let’s do A even though we gotta go through fire and storm, because if we don’t, I would keep talking and nagging and irritating you, that’s far worse than any fire or storm.”
If there is the tiniest possibility that A won’t be doable, we usually have an agreement in advance, that if X or Y happens that we can’t do A, then we would figure out what else to do, or promptly give option B as an alternative.
So, back to the sticks, I was worried that if we can’t follow through the written fun stuffs, he would be too upset or even have a meltdown (I’ve seen him melting down for far more trivial things). Of course I could have come up with small enough things that are more foolproof, but I didn’t get the chance to.
Well, the first 2 weeks were the worst (I hope!). With Christmas and New Year holiday, it’s been rather challenging to keep D (and myself) properly busy. We had our bad times, but it’s been pretty good. By God’s grace, we’re making the most of it :)