The joy and the pain of being a parent

Last night, Dominic reminded us why it is at once joyful, painful, emotional and unpredictable to be parents. He has recently been watching a video titled "Extreme Dinosaurs", in which four dinosaurs have been transformed into souped-up versions of their prehistoric selves. They battle historic, contemporary and future bad guys. He likes to pretend that he is an extreme dinosaur himself.

As Sharon and Dominic were having storytime before bed last night, Dominic made the seemingly innocent comment that he wants to be an extreme dinosaur for Halloween next year. Sharon agreed that would be a fun costume. Then, inexplicably, Dominic began to get emotional and said that he would never be able to be an extreme dinosaur. Sharon was caught off guard, and told him that nobody could "really" become an extreme dinosaur. Before we knew it, Dominic began to sob. His sobs quickly progressed to full emotional sadness and the tears rolled down his cheeks. This was not a nighttime fit of anger. He was truly sad.

He came into our room to tell me about his wish to become an extreme dinosaur, and about the fact that he could never be one. I told him that I didn't want him to become an extreme dinosaur, because then I would miss my best friend, Dominic. He told me that I could get a new Dominic if he were to become an extreme dinosaur. When Sharon told him that she would miss him, he told her that she would still have Daddy. This about broke our hearts, because he was so serious about the whole discussion.

He continued to cry and Sharon continued to attempt to soothe him, and I retreated to the living room to see if things would calm down. It took about a half hour for him to stop crying, and he finally fell asleep on our bed. However, Sharon related to me the emotional sequence of the discussion that preceded Dominic falling asleep.

After I had left the room, Dominic began to bring the concept of God into the discussion. Wow! This about floored me when Sharon told me this. My son, the four year old philosopher. He was asking Sharon if God would be able to turn him into an extreme dinosaur. He asked if our house could fit in heaven. He told Sharon that he didn't want to die. Sharon kept assuring him that heaven is a wonderful place where we will eternally be happy and at peace. His probing questions were both heartfelt and intellectual. He wanted to know why God wasn't helping all of the people in the world. He said that if God would turn him into an extreme dinosaur, that he would be able to help all of the people. This about made me cry when Sharon told me this. Then, as Sharon related to me, he curled up, clasped his hands, and said, "Dear God, please let me help all the people." Soon after, he fell asleep.

I'm sure that I am leaving out some details, but that is the overall subject and tone of the conversation from last night. I was touched that Dominic was thinking about helping other people. I was devastated that he seemed to realize the concept of death and of not being able to help everyone. I was proud that he was smart enough to articulate his feelings so clearly to us. Once again, I found myself loving him ever more deeply.


Sharon Jo said…
We have a pretty amazing little guy on our hands, don't we? His busy brain astounds me!
Sean said…
great story, Eric. sounds like the kind of discussions we have around our house, though none that intense recently. Wil is especially sensitive to wanting God to heal him when he gets hurt and giving credit to God for when he is healed (ie, when the pain goes away), sometimes within the hour.
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