My girls are at an age when they notice everything. When I drop something on my toe and curse under my breath, they ask why I said a naughty word. If I tell them no candy yet shove some M&M’s in my mouth, they point it out. I wish they would notice how I always eat my veggies at dinner and would follow suit. But lately, they have been noticing couples and parents everywhere – at the store, at school, on TV or movies, etc. They have been asking questions about why parents act the way they do, about married vs. unmarried couples, and about decisions that parents make. In other words, we’ve been having some pretty deep conversations around here lately.
We were watching Marley and Me the other night, bawling our eyes out of course, and a scene came up when the parents were fighting over what I consider usual life stuff – kids, a crazy dog, working, marriage. Anya asked if her dad and I ever fight. I firmly believe in being as honest as you can with your children, to a certain extent. So I told her that yes, her dad and I fight. I asked her if she can remember seeing her dad and I fight a lot or if she was worried about us. She said she couldn’t really remember us fighting, that’s why she wanted to know if we do and why we do. She asked what we fight about, and I told her the same things that this couple were fighting about. I told her that life is often hard and complicated, and sometimes we fight with the people we are closest to. She looked at me kind of funny. She asked why you would fight with someone you loved.
Sometimes, your kids say the things that are so bluntly honest and innocent, and it completely takes you off hand. That is such a simple observation – why do people that love each other fight? And I did not even know how to answer that. Why do we fight with those we are closest to? I hypothesize that it’s because those are the people we are the most comfortable with and those we can let our guard down. We fight because we have to be honest with one another and be able to share what makes us angry, crazy, or just confused. At the end of the day, those are the people that do not judge us for the way we exploded over the clothes on the floor or the forgotten phone call. They will love us regardless and will fight back, not only to get their own point across but to also keep us. I just wish I could have found a more eloquent way to explain this to Anya – instead, I sat there with a confused expression on my face and a muttering of “hey, go check on your sister.”
I’m glad my girls are so inquisitive and curious about how life is and how people react and experience life with one another. Their questions only seem to make me think more broadly about life myself. I found that I have someone who is strong, supportive, unconditional, and willing to fight back with me because we love each other enough to care that deeply. Unfortunately, the questions never seem to end – and I need to be quicker on my feet with the honest yet age-appropriate answers!