I never noticed or thought about how often people — strangers, VBS teachers, dental hygienists, to name a few we’ve encountered — use the phrase “mom and dad” when giving direction to children.
Do you know the kind of things I’m talking about? Like, “Take this note home to your mom and dad” or “tell your mom and dad what you did today” or “who’s picking you up? Your mom or your dad?” Things like that.
It’s something you don’t notice or take for granted if your children have both parents. But if your child has a lost a parent, as mine have, hearing someone say “mom and dad” makes me cringe.
It’s not that person’s fault. They don’t know. Assuming children have both parents in their life is perfectly normal and natural. But today there’s so many single parent homes due to divorce and children living with grandparents or other family members, not to mention ones like mine who have had a parent die, ya just never know. I’m sure I’ve done the same thing for years as I’ve worked with children in different capacities.
The dental hygienist the other day told Caden to make sure and floss his teeth at night and get help from mom or dad. She had her utensils in his mouth at the time so he couldn’t talk, and in my mind I’m saying to myself please don’t say anything Caden, just let it go, I don’t want to make her feel bad or have to explain.
But as soon as his mouth was free Caden blurted out, “I don’t have a dad.”
The hygienist said sympathetically, “I’m sorry,” and in this awkward moment I had to come up with some sort of explanation, right?
I said to Caden, “It’s OK. She didn’t know.”
At which point his mouth is free of utensils again and he said, “My dad died,” just as plain as day. He’s quite matter of fact about it, as I guess children his age can be.
Again the hygienist apologized and then we all just moved on.
What else do you do, ya know?