That curious little boy with bright eyes and bedhead standing face-to-face with Holden (with his own bright eyes and bedhead) looked up and asked me that this morning at Pre-K drop off.
I noticed my instant reaction was full of thoughts. Conclusions already made. He already knows the answer to that one. He knows Holden is somehow different than the others in this class when it comes to his family. It’s already starting… at four-and-a-half. Here we go.
My head replayed instances where this young child did most likely already see Holden with his step-dad, knowing that he had one.
Did I immediately come to conclusions because that’s where I’m comfortable? To jump ahead and not allow any other possible explanations. Couldn’t it just be mere childhood and innocent curiosity? Because I am the only one who brings Holden to school day after day; that’s all this young child had seen as of recent, anyway. And in actuality, I’m sure there are other children in his class that come from step-families as well. But maybe not.
It was easier to jump to those conclusions alright. Especially since Holden has been bringing home some language lately that I know has NOT been introduced in this household (haha). Language that allows me to believe that children are far more advanced socially than one would think at almost 5-years-old.
But back to that moment. I smiled, waited for Holden to answer the question. Knowing that quite a bit of time between the two of us has been spent getting excited and packing his bag to visit his biological dad, reading books on step-dads, building separate relationships and making memories with the both of them, introducing this idea of having two dads in his life who love him very much. Something that makes his family both different and special. I felt the urge to protect him and answer the question for him, but I didn’t. And Holden didn’t answer the question either. He just stood there, taking in the question. Wondering, I’m sure, how to answer. Does he really know that all this makes him different? It’s all he really knows. And maybe he wasn’t thinking about it at all, either. Holden doesn’t love to answer questions anyway. I think that’s his stance on being the only child. He has been picking and choosing which questions to answer and whose questions to answer (since there have been a lot of them- both people around and questions) since he was a baby. I didn’t force this one either.
And within seconds, they started to giggle, hugged, and were off and engaging in something else. Wrestling on the floor, building blocks, painting, name-writing, playing with arts-and-crafts. Off to play and learn. I so anticipate that red folder that comes home at the end of the day with all of his creations made of construction paper, glue, markers, and love.
I already knew that I can’t protect my child. There will be a lot out of my control. There is a lot out of my control already. And this is just the beginning. The beginning of social influences that might begin to open Holden’s eyes to the ways in which he is different from his friends. Being the child in a step-family won’t be the last way either. For this particular topic though, Holden will decide how he wants to answer that question the next time it’s asked, but for now he chose not to. And it might not have to be so complicated. It was so darn early in the morning after all. It takes him a few hours to wake up, to get his wheels rollin’. I struggle to slide his uniform on day after day, as his body instantly morphs into a 46-pound limp noodle at sunrise. “My legs don’t work this early!” as he throws himself on the floor pretending to cry. It’s only when he starts to play does he really wake up. And then he’s off to learn, through school, and through his “fwiends” even more.