Seriously…. How many children do I have?
Well, in reality and to most ordinary parents, this would be their most savoured question. It is like the one they expect and hope to be asked as soon as their parental status comes to light. It may go in the lines of
…so how many children do you have?…
It will be the opportunity for most parents to go on about the number of children and possibly how cute they are, how old they are, what they are up to. Some might even add a moan or two about how “stressful” parenting is….
Well, blady, blah blah.
For me, that question is the one I dread as a parent. The question is like a needle that stings my heart leading to an eruption of extremely distressing emotions.
Well, welcome to my world.
I used to have very many children and now for some reason, I am left with just one. One lonely child who is now not only left with me, but left alone without a sibling. What a wicked world! Sadly, they all died. My child is only 7 and she has been through the works with me.
Well, before you turn on the pity, I just want you to know that I do not actually intend shedding any more light about my situation. Please don’t give me that look…don’t I know it? Well, worse things happen so get over it!
Anyway, the reason that question creates a huge emotional sting for me is because when it pops up harmlessly, it leaves me clueless as to how to approach the answer fairly. Technically, I have 2 possible answers
- I can say I have just one child. But you see, the question is ambiguous if you ask me. How many children, triggers numbers in my head. I had numbers to present to this quiz master but now I have just one child left. To be fair “do you have?” specifically refers to the present tense. You know, like the current state of affairs…which would be 1!
- This brings me nicely into my second possible answer. I can say I have one “left”. This also satisfies the answer in the context of the present. However, it also creates an awareness of a change in status quo. “Left” kind of brings the existence of some other persons who were but who now are not here into the knowledge of the quiz master. It’s like dragging them into a party where they are really no longer welcome. At least not to the living who are always inconvenienced by this knowledge.
Yes, I insist that creating this awareness is always an unintended inconvenience posed by my response which the hearer has to deal with. Apologies begin to spring up by the askers who suddenly wish they did not ask. Or worse still, who start to worry that by leading me to this response, I will suddenly become so upset that I need one thousand apologies to feel better.
No, the apologies do not make me feel better. They only scratch the elephant that enters the room with claws of pity. I won’t break just because I make you aware of my status. Remember I provided the answer even though you asked.
So there you go, I have spilled the beans.
It’s ok to feel troubled by my answer. To worry about how I might feel afterwards but please don’t fixate. Don’t let it take over the rest of the conversation. Don’t let it make the mood sour.
The reason I chose to give this answer has nothing to do with you. It has instead to do with my angels. I just feel like it will be so unfair to give an answer that does not acknowledge their existence in this world however fleeting. It is also not fair on me. It psychologically and emotionally takes a lot from a man to be in this position… to move from being the “one time father” of many nations and to becoming the father of one clan.
So that answer gives me a sense of pride too. Its not easy to be me. To cope with as much losses as I have had to. It’s my only chance to show off my strength as a person.
Yeah yeah…it sounds lame.
Well, it’s not my fault that I no longer have victories at soccer, or straight A exams to boast about for my angel children. But I am still proud that I am still standing here in one piece living and coping with the void that their departures have created.
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