A Lesson In Tact

My daughters lost their father at a young age.  Brittany was six and Jeanette was only three at the time.  They have been unbelievably resilient.  Now, five years later, they are making good grades, have friends, and are involved in activities.  While they do not have a father, I do not think that they feel that they are lacking although their father will always be missed.  Some say that time heals all wounds, and in some ways that is true. It does get easier to deal with grief over time, but I do not believe you ever completely heal.  There is always something missing.  Unfortunately, Jeanette had a reminder of this a couple of days ago.

Jeanette is a creature of habit.  She loves order and routine.  She is able to adapt and will do so as needed, but she never likes it.  So, I thought little of the chatter Jeanette made over a substitute bus driver.  The first day she talked about how silly he was, so I thought nothing of her wanting to talk.  The second day, she was more serious about their talk and I could tell something was on her mind.

Jeanette is the last child on her bus route, so the new bus driver tried to make small talk with her as he drove her to the sitter’s.  As the man conversed with her, they talked about school, and her sister.  The man asked what I did for a living and where I worked.  Then, he asked about her father.

Jeanette froze.  She hesitated.  She did not know how to respond.

Noting her hesitation, the man responded, “Let me guess, he is either in jail or dead.”

Jeanette replied, “Let’s go with the second option.”

The man got quiet and changed the subject.

Now, I realize that it is only natural when talking about families to ask about a mother and a father.  But, when my child hesitated, the man should have gotten the picture.  He should have changed the subject.  I am certain that he meant nothing by the comment.  However, it did not need to be said.  I do believe that he realized that it was not a good thing to say since he did change the subject after the comment was made.

I am writing this tonight because it bothers me.  It is really sad that a child has to experience loss at such a young age.  It bothers me that my kids do not have everything that other kids have.  Luckily, I have a great boyfriend, family, and friends that can help to fill the void left with the passing of their father.  Hopefully, reading this, someone else will think before they speak.


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