Tonight we had a very special after-school read aloud from Dinosaurs Divorce.
In case you haven’t read this gem of a book, published over twenty years ago, let me tell you: it runs the gamut. From mommy drinking because she’s depressed to holidays tearing the kids in two (“Why is that kid broken, mommy?”), Dinosaurs Divorce delivers.
I’m glad my three-year-old can’t read yet, though, because it was a nice luxury to be able to skip over the “your parents may have less money now,” and “loving your stepparents” sections because those seem a bit heavy and unnecessary for kids under 7. I’m not sure we’re quite at the discussing the next wedding stage yet. Mommy would just like to get to second base sometime this year.
Dinosaurs Divorce did allow for some great, surprising conversation. There were wonderful pictures of parents fighting and it opened up the door for Nathan to say that, yes, he’s seen mommy and daddy fight. There’s a full page of pictures about feelings (ashamed, guilty, mad, etc.) that I think will be useful during this transition.
There was great treatment of the where do mommy and daddy live now question, which I thought would be the hardest thing to talk about, but when I asked Big Bro, “Do your mommy and daddy live in different houses?” He surprised me by saying, unequivocally, “yes.” This kid is smart. I thought he hadn’t noticed that daddy is “at work” a lot, or that mommy’s bed is empty a lot. I thought my cover stories were working, but nothing gets by this kid. In this sense I feel relieved that I can stop lying all the time and just be honest about where their dad is.
Sharing this book with my oldest allowed me to talk to him about his first visit to daddy’s apartment in a few days. He seemed to take that conversation in stride, responding with the impatience typical of his age, “I want to go NOW!”
Well, little one, you probably don’t. Last I checked daddy didn’t have a booster seat or a single goldfish cracker, so mommy is hoping and praying that he gets that together before Thursday.
Once the book ended, Big Bro played like he normally does for ten minutes before, unusually, totally melting down.
Screaming for daddy (who was present but pretty quiet during the book reading; he’s not handling this so well himself).
Begging me for stories, “Just one more.”
This is going to be hard.
What about you? How did you help your children understand your separation or divorce?
How did they handle it?