That first talk with the kids was hard. Seeing the looks on their faces when I told them I had cancer just broke my heart. They understood so much more than I wanted them to. That evening, we revisited the conversation several times, and I felt like they were handling it relatively well. But before I talked to them, I stopped in at the school to talk to their teachers. They needed to be ready to handle the kids’ reactions the next day. It was hard to realize that their teachers spend more waking hours with the kids than I do some days. I didn’t want them to get a free pass for poor behavior or skipping their homework, but I wanted the teachers to know what was going on, and to let me know if it seemed like they were struggling more than I knew.
After a few weeks, the kids had adjusted pretty well and our lives were seeming a little more normal again. I got a call from Turner’s kindergarten teacher, she said that the assistant had overheard him talking to his friends at lunch about death. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he was probably talking about some epic battle involving either star wars, ninjas, or zombies. Not likely he was talking about me. But she suggested he talk with the school counselor, and so I told her to feel free to arrange the meeting. He was so excited that he’d gotten to eat his lunch in the counselor’s office! He gave me the run down of everything they talked about—apparently I only made up the first few minutes. It turns out he was delighted to have an adult’s individual attention for a whole 25 minutes! He excitedly told me that she said he could come back any time, and he was thinking about heading there a few more times that week!
Apparently, after talking to Turner, the counselor thought she should check in with Emma Clare, too. We have a great bus stop, and the kids there are much like family—siblings who play well together most of the time, but sometimes fight and then make up quickly. It seems that this particular day, Emma Clare and another little girl at the bus stop were on the outs, and when the counselor came into the classroom and asked to see her, Emma Clare was afraid her friend had gotten her in trouble. Her account of what happened next: “Then I thought she was going to propose to me, mommy. She got down on one knee and everything and took my hand!”
The kids’ teachers were so supportive during the course of my treatment and I really appreciated knowing they were well taken care of. Even when my sweet kiddos didn’t know that they needed someone looking out for them.