I have really good sleepers. But it seems that occasionally the kids each have a turn having trouble getting to sleep. Gracie was the first one that we broke the rule and let her climb into bed with us in the evening when we were up late watching something online on Daddy's laptop. She loves the time. She feels super special because it's just her and she knows she's getting to do something super special.
Last night Daniel couldn't sleep. Daniel is my amazingly good kid. He will just sit in bed, quiet for an hour our two, restless, but not get into mischief (unlike some other people in our house). So tonight I took pity on him. I invited him into our room to finish watching a show with Mommy and Daddy. He scampered in with enthusiasm. Gracie likes to get tucked all the way in, covers pulled up almost to her nose. Daniel, on the other hand, wanted to sit on top of the bedding (maybe he wanted to be sure not to fall asleep). We were snacking on pretzels. It was five minutes before I realized he hadn't helped himself, so I told him he could and he immediately ate one.
We were watching the last fifteen minutes of a medical drama, a rather tame show, no murders, usually no crazy drama, just a doctor who likes to be a hero and save the day making house calls on the rich. I was explaining to Daniel what was happening and as it was winding down he was asking me if they solved the mystery and I explained there was no real mystery, blah, blah, blah. I was interrupted by the final scene, an adult son punches his father square in the face (his father showed up after twenty years, acting as if it had been no big deal that he had walked out on his boys). Daniel just burst into tears.
Of course we tried to explain the situation, which made things "worse" in the sense that Daniel was upset, thinking about the daddy walking out on his son. I, of course, reassured and reassured him that Daddy was never going to walk out and leave him and that Mommy and Daddy love him very much, just like Grandpa Bill and Grandma Grete love each other and Papa and Grandma Cook and Grampy and Grammy... but then there were questions about the people in his life who aren't so fortunate. I rocked him and assured him and reminded him that I didn't know why all mommies and daddies didn't stay together and why sometimes they were so mean to each other that they decided not to be married anymore, but that his Mommy and Daddy weren't ever going to do that.
After I tucked Daniel back in bed quite a while later I thought about the questions and the answers. Even with single parenting all around me I didn't know how to explain it to my son. But I want to. I don't want to be afraid to talk about how we make mistakes. Because we do. But I don't want my kids to live fearful that our mistakes will make their lives painful. I want them to understand that our choices, their choices too, have consequences that often hurt other people. I want them to understand God's power of redemption too. I want them to know that God gives us amazing gifts, beautiful gifts that sometimes come from less than perfect choices.