....

My brother and I were standing in the kitchen; him preparing dinner, I catching up with things and angling for red wine. "You might want to speak to Nephew about Uncle M." he says all of a sudden.

Uncle M is my ex that I left back in February; he loved my nephews and they loved him dearly. And Nephew is very clever and has been asking anybody but me (see? very clever) about Uncle M.
My brother has mentioned it before and I have given it some thought; maybe even hoping the memory would fade and the kids would stop asking. But today Nephew had been asked whether he had siblings and he had answered gingerly "I have a sister" (forgetting little new Nephew 3.0 there), and then he had gone on to mention his uncle H, his uncle C and his Uncle M.

I looked at my brother for a while before I answered. "Yeah, well; I guess he's old enough".
Nephew is 5.

After dinner Nephew and I finished off the treasuremap we had been painting, and then went on with all his night rituals. Pjs, toothbrushing, a bit running around, and finally the exchange of endless goodnight kisses that I fake not to want, little skinny arms wound tightly around me. I put him to bed and then all of a sudden there was nothing else to do. He was there in his bed, trusting sleepy eyes fixed at me. I thought for a moment and decided to strip this of all complications (as if I was ever able to do just that =)).

"Nephew, I have something I want to talk to you about." (hesitating a bit here. Am I doing this right ? Is there an etiquette for speaking to 5-year-olds?)
"Do you remember Uncle M ?"
"Yes" he said. Making it no easier for me.
"Maybe you have been wondering why he doesn't come here with me anymore?"
"Yes" he said. Oh no, he's gonna make me do all the work here. (Of course he is; he's 5 years old)
"Well. We're not together anymore. He won't be coming here again." (I said it. Enough now.)
"Why?"
"Well..." (Hesitating again. Hell, I am bad at this. Might as well tell it as it is). "Things got bad and we started arguing a lot. Fighting all the time. And it got worse, so I decided to leave him."
"Yeah, I know what that's like" he said. "Once in a while you have a bad day and fight with everybody"
(relief)
"Yes, exactly. Uncle M. and I had a lot of bad days towards the end. We fought a lot, and so decided to quit." (hell, might be as true as any other explanation).
"Ok" he said, trusting eyes still not leaving mine, "but I miss him".
There was a question in there. And I could not ignore it.
"Mmmmm", I said, non-committedly; wanting neither to lie to him, nor to colour his vision of Uncle M. It was a bad breakup if there ever was one.
"But it is the best for me." I said, "We were both sad for a while, but now I feel much better."
"Yeah" he said.
"Is there something you want to ask me about all this?" I said, sensing that this might not be all he felt, he needed to know.
"Yes. Will you fetch the treasuremap for me to sleep with?"

I got it.

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