Oh boy. I had a moment, ya’ll. A stop you in your tracks, what do I do now, I don’t want to screw this up – moment.
It happened Sunday evening while my son and I were walking our dog. My son is six by the way. He’s a first grader, now learning his schoolwork from me at home. (God help us all).
Anyway…back to the walk. My kiddo was happy as a clam. He was running, skipping, giggling…and then out of nowhere he looked at me and asked, “Mommy, because you have MS, if you get coronavirus, are you going to die?”
Did anyone else hear the screeching of tires? The needle on the record making that loud scratch? The dance floor suddenly go silent?
I had a split second to give the correct, and honest answer.
“Buddy, I don’t plan to die. I plan to be with you for a very long time.”
His response, “But your immune system isn’t good.”
The thoughts in my head were asking why my six-year-old was so in tune with my immune system…and how he even understood what an “immune system” is, but I chalked that under the “my kid’s a genius” category that many of us have for our children and just kept it moving. (To be clear, I also thought my kid was a genius when he said “Mama” for the first time, and when he told me at the age of 3 that poachers needed to stop hurting elephants).
Back to the immune system. I explained to him that my Multiple Sclerosis didn’t necessarily put me at risk for getting sick. I told him that the medication I take to treat my MS, Ocrevus, kills cells in my body that fight sickness (which is a good thing for us MSers).
I explained to him that our goal was to make sure that I don’t get sick. I told him that my compromised immune system is why we so forcefully tell him to back away from his friends in our neighborhood if they start to get close to the 6-feet, social distancing boundary.
I shared with him that we need to make sure no one carries COVID-19 home to Mommy. I told him that it’s possible I could get sicker than others if I get COVID-19, but that I would fight it as best I could.
Then, I reflected on the last week. My son is not a little guy that has nightmares very often. In the last seven days, he has had three nightmares that woke him up.
I am working from home now. My job IS the news. That means the news is on TV a lot. What is the main topic of all newscasts (and for good reason)? That’s right. Coronavirus. I’m sure my son has seen and heard more than he should…simply because of my work.
So, I asked him, “Have you been worrying that I’m going to die?”
“Yes,” he admitted.
Then he got tears in his eyes and he said, “I don’t want you to die.”
I gave him a huge hug, and told him I wasn’t going anywhere. I told him that I am fortunate that I got my health in check over the last year by focusing on my nutrition, getting on the exercise train, and taking my vitamins.
That seemed to comfort him, but did it convince him? That I don’t know.
What I do know is we finished our walk with him giggling, running, and skipping again…exactly what a child his age should be doing.
Just remember, moms and dads, little ears (and not so little ears) are listening and understanding way more than we may realize. Give those kiddos an extra hug, an extra snuggle, a little bit of grace…and you know what? That little bit of grace…give that to yourself as well.
We will be okay.