The Answer In My Head Might Not Be The ‘Best’ Answer To Give…..!?
I was always aware that one day Aiden would question the D word.
No, I’m not taking about drugs or drink….. or even doughnuts.
I’m talking about Daddy.
In my head, I imagined I’d play it cool and calm whenever Aiden brought it up – because I would be prepared for it, right? I remember once running through different scenarios in my head and how I would answer;
“It’s not your fault…. That Daddy’s a twat…!”
“I want you to know the truth….. Your Daddy’s a twat…..!”
“Our family is just me and you but full of love…. And Daddy’s a twat….!”
Ok, ok, I know none of those work! Daddy IS a twat but that’s not for mummy to say in front of Aiden (no matter how much I feel the urge to scream about it!) I can’t and won’t pass my feelings onto him.
And besides, I just know that Aidens going to grow up to be a strong minded and independent man. He’ll make up his own mind by himself.
Aiden’s Never Really Noticed The D Word Is ‘Missing’
He last saw his Dad when he’d not long tuned one – Daddy had been around for about 3 months (3 whole months in a row was a record for Daddy who usually lasted 3 weeks before the novelty wore off and he couldn’t be arsed anymore).
But one day his Daddy just never came to visit. Or the next day. Or the next. I knew in my heart deep down that he wouldn’t last. But I always had this thing, this longing inside me wiling him to stick it out so that my Son could have a proper Daddy.
Aiden spent the first week or 2 after he disappeared crawling around occasionally saying, “Dada. Dada”. But thankfully, after a few weeks he was forgotten about.
It was at this point that I decided to cut ties for good. I knew he’d come crawling back eventually (and he did) but seeing how Aiden was so aware of Daddy not being there anymore and how heart-breaking it was to watch, I knew I had to break the cycle. Plus I refuse to have my little boy grow up thinking it’s ‘normal’ for a Daddy to be around sporadically. Popping in and out of his life then leaving Mummy to deal with the questions, the tears and the sleepless nights when hes missing him.
I Don’t Mention The D Word
I don’t bring him up. Ever. In fact, until this point I’ve tried to avoid anything that might put thoughts or questions into Aiden’s little mind. But it’s hard and now that we’re facing the subject, the D word seems to be everywhere;
There’s an episode of Peppa Pig (Peppa OH MY GOD you’re so annoying Pig!) where they are all shouting – “Where’s Daddy. Where’s Daddy!?” (Well Peppa, you’re even more annoying to me now!)
The Lion King…… all about Simba and his Dad.
Finding Nemo / Dory…… all about Nemo and his Dad….
Fathers Day is looming…. I try to distract Aiden when there’s adverts on TV.
And I know that now Aiden is at nursery, there will be lots of Daddy’s dropping off and picking up their little ones – that’s what Dad’s are supposed to do!
I know I can’t keep constantly muting the TV or distracting him anytime we see a Daddy.
I can’t shelter him from the subject forever. But what do you do when kids ask about an absent Daddy?
The D Word: When They Ask About An Absent Daddy
It started off with him simply saying the word Daddy randomly one Saturday night about a month ago when we were having a movie and pizza night. I say movie night but it’s really just our daily dose of Toy Story (‘Woody Buzz’) being played at night time while he gets to stay up late.
At first, I thought he was saying Doggy which is the name of favourite soft toy and his best friend. But when he said it again, it was a very distinctive ‘Daddy’.
I was stunned. Really caught off guard. I sat back in a little bit of a daze with a lump in my throat.
I started to panic because my over-thinking head kicked in at rapid speed and before I knew it I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head; Does he remember his Dad?? What if he misses his Dad?? Will he want his Dad in his life?? “Oh shit, just as I’ve finally dealt with everything to do with that twat now he’s gonna have to come back into our lives!?”
Then I gave myself a slap back to reality.
Aiden hadn’t seen his Dad for 2 and a half years. The likelihood of him having a clue who that man is, was zero. I know that because I came across an old photo of ‘Daddy’ when I was sorting through the files on my laptop and Aiden shouted “Grandad!” (which, I’m not gonna lie, I found quietly hilarious!)
We carried on watching Woody Buzz and I assumed was just something he heard at nursery and figured it would pass.
But over the next few weeks he kept saying it more and more;
“My Daddy.” “My Daddy home.”
“Uh oh…..” I thought, “Doesn’t look like this is going to just go away”. Gulp. Sigh. Shit.
How The Hell Do You Tackle This Subject With A 2 Year Old?
Last week, it was clear the subject wasn’t just going to go away. I knew I couldn’t keep ignoring it and pretending it wasn’t happening. But what was I meant to say? Where do you even start? This is so not as simple as I thought it was going to be. The last thing I wanted to do was handle it in a way that’s going to screw the kid up.
So, I figured I’d just tell the truth. Not the truth as in;
“Well, Aiden. You see your Dad’s a 40 year prick who thinks he’s 20 and cares more about being a selfish dickhead and partying with the kids than being a family man”
But be honest about our family not having a Daddy in it. Because that’s the truth. And we’re still a family, the two of us. Our own little family full of love.
I waited for him to bring it up again and our conversation went something like this;
Aiden: “My Daddy home”.
Me: “Honey, you don’t have a Daddy”.
I looked at his puzzled little face – I’m never sure if he’s understanding the words I’m saying because we’re still in the in between stage of understanding some of what mummy says but being completely oblivious to others (also he’s quickly mastered the art of selective hearing).
I carried on;
“You see, some families only have a Mummy. Other families only have a Daddy. Some have two Mummy’s and some have 2 Daddy’s. Some have no Mummy or Daddy at all and the little boys and girls live with their Granny’s and Grandad’s. Families are all different but what they do have in common is they love each other very much, just like us”.
He looked up at me with his big, beautiful blue eyes, smild and said;
Me: “Aiden doesn’t have a daddy, but he’s got a really cool mummy doesn’t he?”
He beamed and shouted;
I went on to name all the important people who he has in his life; Granny, Grandad, Auntie Linzi, Auntie Lynda etc… showing him how many people love and care about him.
We hugged it out and it seemed to work. He seemed to accept it and that was that.
How Much Information Is Enough?
I decided to do it this way and leave it at that. I figured any more information than that is too much for a toddler to process. There’s no need to bombard him with the, “Wheres my Daddy?” books at 2 years old when I’m not even entirely convinced he even knows exactly ‘what’ a Daddy is yet. For now, let’s just keep it simple and general while reassuring him that he’s loved by lots of people.
I have no doubt that a few years, maybe even months, down the line we’ll have the subject to approach again. But for now, I feel like there’s no need to draw attention to the absence of the D word in Aidens life. Because in reality, whatever he’s ‘missing’ from not having a Daddy around, he ultimately gets from Mummy.
These days, it’s a getting more and more rare to see families with ‘Mummy, Daddy and kiddies’ together. It’s sad but true.
Families nowadays come in all shapes and sizes and dynamics. I’ve decided that’s the angle I’m going with. There might be a ‘figure’ missing in someways. But Aiden isn’t missing anything. He’s happy, he’s cared for, he’s loved. What more could he need?
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