I have spent that past five years wondering when this conversation would happen; waiting for my sweet little boy to question why our family isn't "normal" or "traditional". To give you an idea, here is a picture of our "little family":
I used to cringe when we would read a book or watch a TV show that presented the "traditional" family structure of Daddy, Mommy, brother, sister, and dog. I worried that being inundated with these images would make my son insecure about our family.
So, I started paying attention to the family structures presented in all books and TV shows, seeking out those that portray the richly diverse structure of families.
To highlight a few, here is Sol Gordon's ABC book All Families are Different...
I even began noticing family diversity in classic fairy tales, such as The Three Little Pigs having only a mom and Little Red Riding Hood being raised by her mom and grandmother!
During one of our trips to the library, my son and I discovered a single dad raising his son in The Notebook of Doom series:
I even made our own little family picture book so my son would see himself in print:
Fortunately, one of my son's most recent passions happens to be the Transformers Rescue Bots, where a single dad and his four children work with a group of Transformers:
He loves this series so much, that I even threw him a Rescue Bot-themed birthday party:
And, most recently, there's Big Hero Six, where two orphaned boys are raised by their Aunt:
Of all the scenarios I had painted in my head, my son coming home from school in tears because he didn't have a dad for the father-son picnic or his sweet little hands resting gently on my cheeks while he asks where his dad has been his whole life, it never occurred to me that the topic would come and go like a whisper.
Instead of the dramatic scenarios I had imagined, my son was playing at the park with a friend he had just made when the kid asked him, "Where's your dad?" My heart skipped a beat as I waited for my son's response, to which he simply said, "I don't have a dad".
And, that was it!
They continued on to the spiral slide where they laughed and screamed as they tumbled down in a flurry of five-year old hands and feet!
Later that day, when we got home and were alone, I contemplated talking to him about what had happened at the park, but I wanted it to be on his terms, so I waited...and waited...and waited.
Two days later, I could wait no longer. I gathered my son up in my lap and asked him if he remembered the little boy asking him about his dad, and he said yes. Again, I waited for him to react, but he didn't!
So, I asked him how it made him feel and if he had any questions about not having a dad. And, he said, "Not really".
Huh....not what I had anticipated, at all!