I was talking to a friend yesterday about your family. I told her about Mommy’s school, your school, Liza’s spunk, daddy’s job and your tent life. I bragged about all of you. With a few tiny worries slipped in. Worries about adults, not kids. You guys are great. I told my friend that I was probably too optimistic. Probably deluding myself about your mommy and daddy’s abilities. Oh well, I guess I thought its better to believe than to have no faith. It rubs off on everyone. Doesn’t it? Or am I just pretending?
Pretending is useful. It serves so many purposes. It’s for mental health, cognitive growth and idea formation. Its social, it’s a healthy and necessary part of child development, grown up life, too, a shield, a place to hide. You pretend that the Play Mobile people can fly, they fly to travel, to eat, to find safety. You build them shelters, serve them food and sometimes put them in danger. But then you help them overcome their obstacles, get them out of danger, find safety. These are life skills, tools; attributes of healthy humans. Problem solving can never be practiced enough. Keep it up, buddy. And even when pretending represents escape from reality. That’ too serves a purpose. Hey, that’s what I am doing.
Today I got a long email from your mommy’s dad, John. He came around last year about this time when you guys decided to move to Montana. He showed up for a little drama. Then left. It was weird. He rides a white horse, but wears a black hat, Buddy. Watch out. He scolded me about not taking good care of your family, letting you live in squalor, giving you no medicine when you are ill and not even providing a thermometer for the baby! I wonder why your mommy complained to him? She has really hurt my feelings. She doesn’t tell the truth, and manipulated her own daddy to think she needed him. That’s lying. It’s a kind of pretending, but not honest. It was mean. Sometimes when someone is mean, you want to be mean to them. My insides are having a wrestling match. And it makes my stomach hurt. It paralyzes me for a while. That means I can’t act. I can’t do anything. I am so so sad about it. Its called betrayal among other things. She didn’t keep an unspoken agreement in our relationship. To talk to one another.
When I feel this kind of sad, surprised by the betrayal, I know that I was pretending. And not in a healthy way. I was fooling myself , and that can be called denial. Not seeing what is there all along. Your mommy can be so mean and hurtful when she is hurting. And now I carry worry, anger and confusion about what she wanted to have happen after lying to her dad. What was mommy thinking? What is really going on?
At times like this, when adults get upset, sad and confused, we’ll protect you and Liza from hearing meanness or getting worried as well as we can, but this is also a time when we have to be honest. So you will know that we are struggling, that we seem upset at one another, and you won’t understand. But trust me, buddy, we love you and are working hard to be sure you people who love you stay close and available whenever you need us. There’s no pretending about that.