So, last night after talking with my mom...crying, and blogging, Phillip and I sat down with Kennith to talk with him. He looks forward to his calls from his dad and he was looking forward to spending some time with Jeff over the summer, so we knew we had to have the conversation sooner rather than later.
How do you explain alcoholism to an 8 year old? YOU PRAY BEFORE YOU DO IT and you tell him. Honestly and answer questions. Phillip and I talked with Kennith after Maddy went to bed, and when I told him that we wanted to talk to him he asked if he was in trouble (note here: Should make more time to have a conversation with each child alone so they don't always think when we talk to them it is because they did something bad)... anyway, I told him no... He wasn't in trouble.
One thing I noticed is that looking my son in the eyes was so important in this conversation. I think we say a lot with just our eyes, and it is important to speak to your child on the same level, making eye contact. (That is another random statement before I get to the conversation.)
We started the conversation by telling him that his father is sick, and that he has to live in a special hospital with doctors and nurses with him 24 hours. He has to live there for 6 months. He asked why Jeff was sick, so we told him the world... Alcoholism. We talked to him about what alcohol is (he was really worried, because I told him different types, and he thought he could never have root beer again, so we had to explain it again). We talked to him about the difference between adults who drink it socially and normally versus needing to have it and how it can hurt your body... that is why it is important for Jeff to stay with doctors and get help. He understood it.
Now, a while ago (about a year ago) he said to someone that I kicked Jeff out of the house... this bothered me for a long time, because that was not the case... so I took this opportunity to talk with Kennith about it. I told him that daddy Jeff has had a problem with this for a while, which is why we had to stop living with him.
Then my son asked me, "If daddy Jeff didn't drink like this, we would live together still?" I answered honestly..."Probably." He said oh. Then he said, but we wouldn't have them... and he pointed to Phillip and Alex. I said yep, we wouldn't have them. Then he smiled and nodded... he gave his dad Phillip and Alex a hug. Then he asked if he would go to Houston and just stay with Jeff's girlfriend. (Kennith loves her) We told him he couldn't. Then he asked if he could go to camp and Adventureland over the summer... we said yes. And that was it.
After he went to bed, I went to check on him and he was up, and in deep thought. He understands that why we left a long time ago, and he realizes what we have in our lives as a result of it, and how happy we are. He looked at me and I just loved on him, sang him his special "night time" song (I made up a lullaby for each of my kids and I sang to them as babies and sing to them still to this day), we just sat there and hugged... My son is very connected to God... I asked him if he wanted to pray for Jeff and he said yes. His prayer was something like this:
"Dear God, please watch over my daddy Jeff and help him get help and get better. I want to play with him and see him again. It is going to be hard, God so he needs you. Thanks and Amen."
My son... 8, teaching me so many lessons about forgiveness and faith. Then this morning he wanted to talk about it again, so we did. Since he can't talk to Jeff for a while, we are going to sit down and he is going to write a letter each week about what happened. So when we can send something to Jeff, Kennith can fill him in on what was going on. That way, Jeff can feel connected to him, and Kennith can feel connected to Jeff.
My son knows he has a dad and a daddy. My hope was (as his mom) that his dad and daddy would be the same person. But, it is not the case. My son is blessed... he can learn from both men in his life... and I can learn from them too. All three of them. And after talking to Kennith, I am at peace. I know that I did the right thing by telling him the truth.