A few months ago Patty had routine physical, and her doctor ordered some tests, which came back positive so she needed a biopsy. While statistically odds were strong that it would be a nonissue, we were both a bit anxious – especially because of her cancer scare a few years ago.
We carefully didn’t say anything to the kids because we didn’t want to worry them. But on the day Patty went for the biopsy, Max asked me in a quiet, serious voice: “Does Mama need surgery again?” (He was about 4 when she had surgery before.)
I was stuck by his ability to observe and “read between the lines.” And, by the way this cancer fear stayed with him.
I suspect that in general kids see far more than we want them to. From an evolutionary perspective it makes sense – there’s survival value in being able to read subtle cues. Left to themselves kids will take those cues and make their own meaning, sometimes accurate, often exaggerated… but it’s important to remember that fear creeps in the absence of information.
What else are they seeing? And what meaning are they making?
PS. Patty’s biopsy was totally negative – which was a relief! This was days before we were leaving for Borneo and South East Asia for six weeks, so it was fabulous to get this resolved before we went!