Children are awesome. They say whatever it is they’re thinking, whether you ask or not, and they’re usually pretty positive overall. So why jade all that positive goodness with talk of chronic illnesses? Because while I may not know everything, I do know that eventually children ask. Simple as that. If you think they won’t, well, then you live in an alternate universe!
All joking aside, it’s something you’re going to have to do at some point so it’s best to be ready. I say this as someone who does not know the meaning of preparation. I typically wing it, because I’ve explained to so many people throughout my life what’s on my face. Hence my blog’s namesake.
When my four-year old niece asked me, I was not ready for how she would react…
We’re laying down on an air mattress because I was able to convince my sister that to let me babysit since I’m never in California. After she discovered the joys of memory foam pillow-top and calmed down a bit we were resting on the heavenly clouds facing each other. I could feel her tiny breath on my face and remember being very sleepy and hoping that if I stopped moving and closed my eyes, she would too. Wrong.
She looked at me and in the most innocent way, asked, “Auntie, what’s that?” while pointing and touching one of my scars. “Aunty has lupus. Lupus is like a cold for the skin. My skin was sick and this is what happened. Now, I have these as reminders, but don’t worry, I am not in any pain.”
This bundle of joy inched even closer to me, and snuggled up. She kissed my face and I stared, dumbfounded. I’ve had cousins tell me, “we think you’re pretty but would be prettier without lupus.” I’m not delusional about how children perceive things. It’s hard to actually put into words the series of mini-actions that took place after I explained to her what lupus is, the best way I thought she could understand. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was surprised, after all these years, after all I’ve been through. The moment we shared was filled with love and understanding. How a four-year old was able to connect with me on a level most adults cannot is beyond my comprehension but I am eternally grateful for her. She’s my sunshine and no disease could ever take that away from me. If anything, I think lupus has actually made us stronger.
Still, while I’m no expert I think if a child asks us a question we should do our best to answer. You might be surprised by how well they handle what you say. It might even make you tear up–like me, cause I’m a huge baby. At some point I’ll have this talk with kids I will hopefully have–I can only hope it goes as smoothly and is as touching as this was.
Happy Monday everyone!