Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Seeing Eye to Eye

"It is so hot with this cap on," I said to my daughter, Caroline. Summer decided to arrive in New Hampshire last week and yesterday was particularly hot and humid. At my request, Caroline brought Ava and Anna out for a visit.

"So take it off. Why do you feel you have to wear it?" said Caroline.

"I don't want to freak out Ava."

"Mom, you're projecting that onto her. It's just a new haircut to her," she said.

I took off the cap. Ah, relief! After a while, Ava came in from playing outside with Papa as he grilled the burgers for dinner. I was alone in the living room when she saw me without the cap. Her mouth stiffened a bit and the corners turned down as she stared at my hairless head. It all happened so quickly. I knew without a doubt she was a bit repulsed at the sight.

"I have medicine for my booboo and it makes my hair fall out, so Uncle Brian helped me and," I began.

Before I could finish, Caroline appeared and interrupted, "LeeLee got a new haircut. Don't you like it?"

Ava didn't respond verbally, but turned away and wouldn't look at me. We got busy putting plates and sliverware on the dining room table, Buck came in with the burgers, and we all sat down at the table except Ava. She stood by the open window and kept announcing that it was raining outside.

"Com'on Ava, here's your seat. It's time for dinner," said Caroline.

Ava stole a glance at me and turned back to look out the window and said again that it was raining outside. In that momentary glance, I knew she wasn't comfortable sitting across from me with my head uncovered. I quietly got up, put my navy blue cap back on and sat down at the table. Ava then joined us and had no problem at all looking at me or eating her dinner.

Our adult dinner conversation included the topic of my treatments, the effects so far, and what I might expect as time goes on. It became very clear to me that my daughter and I do not see eye to eye in terms of how to help Ava understand my serious illness on her level. Ava listens to the adults in her world as they discuss LeeLee and what has happened. She knows something is up. It feels less than honest to tell Ava that I got a new haircut. Well, let's face it, it's not true. I'm more comfortable telling Ava that LeeLee has a booboo and needs medicine that makes her sick sometimes and makes her hair fall out, but it will all grow back and I will get better and she will be able to come and spend the night again soon. So far, I haven't had a chance to explain that to her. So far, her mother doesn't see it the same way I do.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna. I stumbled upon your site and am reading through your posts. Had to comment on Ava. I have a 3 yr old son and for a while I also made the mistake of thinking he didn't know what was going on with me. I don't have cancer, but I have a rare disease that puts me at high risk of various cancers and I go to MD Anderson for treatment every 6 months and must leave him for a few days during that time. From experience I have found that being honest with him is best. He worries less that way. Definitely put a positive spin on it. I think you have the right idea, but it might take some time for your daughter to recognize that.

    Take care,