The reality of just how sensitive and perceptive my children are hit me across the head last night with a big THUMP. We were driving home from a full afternoon and evening at church - the kids prattling on about what they had done, who they had seen, what they had played. Eventually the talk turned towards the remaining obligations we had to accomplish when we reached home last night (i.e. homework, bath, stories).
James' homework was to collect four items that started with the letter "G" and put them in his blue bucket to share at school the next day. So we started brainstorming "G" words - like giraffe, gorilla, grass, and glue. Eventually the word 'grandparent' entered the conversation - which then prompted a discussion about different grandparents we know - their own Grandma and Grandpa Long, GiGi (our dear friend Nici's mom who is kinda like a grandma to my kids and a mama to me - who I promise I won't steal Nic), some random grandparent name that I'd never heard of (Pee Pee) that James swears is what his buddy at school calls his grandma (WHATEVER crazy kid) ... that sort of thing.
And then talk of this Friday's Grandparents Day at James' school - when all grandparents are invited to come for lunch and a program - and how James is SO excited for Grandma Shelby to be there with him.
And then someone said it - I'm not quite sure who it was - 'I wish Nonna could be there.'
It was like a stab to the heart. Because I wish she could be here too. So much so that I can't put that need/want/desire into words.
James then piped up about how she was sick - and that's why she couldn't come visit or play with us or go to things like Grandparents Day. I confirmed that - and said I really wish she could be here with us as well.
And then silence fell. They were all quiet. For some reason the radio wasn't on. It was just the kids and I - looking out the window - all of us in that moment of time when there just isn't anything else to say.
And from the quiet - I heard Anna whisper to James 'shhhhhh.... don't talk about this. You'll make Mommy start crying because she misses Nonna so much.'
I seriously felt like someone had reached a hand into my chest and pulled on my heart. And I silently choked back tears in the quiet that ensued.
She then started to say something completely silly - acting like a goofy kid - obviously trying to change the subject.
How did that happen? When did my child become so astute and sensitive to me and my feelings? I've tried so hard over the years to keep my emotions in check when I'm around her - opting to cry in the solitude of my car when no-one is around.
It made me overwhelmingly happy and proud that she was so worried about the emotional welfare of her mom.
It made me overwhelmingly sad that things are so crazy for us that she is even aware of things like sadness and hurt. And that she knows that her mom hurts deeply and profoundly.