Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Little House on the Prairie

You would think I'd know this by now, but it is not possible to get through an episode of this classic TV show without Kleenex. Years ago, watching as a child with my siblings, it's the same quality that would make us all carefully watch our Mom to see if she was getting teary-eyed. But, we still love the show. We love the characters, the stories, the history--all of it. It is one of the few shows now that all of our kids will sit down and watch intently together.

So, when CB selected one from the library the other day, I thought it would be a great "family night" program. With the threat of snow looming large, Daddy out for the evening, and all of the kids in their pjs early last night, we decided to watch Part I of Little House on the Prairie-Journey in the Spring. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Long after the hour-long segment finished, I'm still wondering if it was a good idea AND if Part 2 should be shown at all.

In the beginning of the special, we saw Charles' mom and dad in their little house up in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin. In less than 10 minutes, however, we watched with typical Little House sadness, the passing of Grandma Ingalls. I cringed inwardly as I heard H raise the question, "Mom, what is grandmother?" Quickly, before I could answer, CB jumped in, "She died." To which H responded, "What is died?" But as she did, a look of recognition swept across her face. It was as if all of a sudden she knew what had happened to this motionless, pale woman lying in her quilt-covered wooden bed, while her husband lay his head on her chest and wept. But to confirm her suspicions, she whispered to me, "She is no talking?" I couldn't even open my mouth to answer her yes. I just shook my head and held her next to me as she cried. Not a wailing, hysterical cry, but the slow, gentle tears of someone who was reliving a moment right then and there of a not recently tapped memory.

We did make it through the rest Part I, but I am uncertain about Part 2. I explained the story to my husband when he got home and while I was happy to see that H was able to grieve and express sadness (rather than bottle it up inside), I just don't want to force grieving on her. I am also all to acutely aware that these types of scenes pop-up more often than I might like and that I am happy to have had this one in the privacy and comfort of her own home with people around her who realize the reason for her tears. So, I think for tonight, I'm taking the coward's way out and we'll come up with another after dinner activity. Maybe we'll see if anyone shows any interest in watching the rest of the show or maybe we'll just return in to the library and be done with it completely. It's due this Friday, anyway.

This time, I just don' t know.


5KidMom said...

Poor sweet H. Coming from the place of a Mommy to 3 kiddos who have lost parents, I would let her lead the way on this one. If the kids bring up watching Part 2, H can choose whether or not she wants to participate. If not, you could play a game (or some other activity she enjoys) together in another room, while everyone else watches the show. If she does want to watch, I think it's pretty important that you be right by her side while she does it. Grieving is hard, but VERY necessary. If she is brave enough to face her pain, she will need you to be courageous enough to help her through it. It is a very private pain, but one that the salve of motherly love and cuddles can start to heal. I'll definitely keep your family in my prayers this week.

patjrsmom said...

Thanks for your insight. I always think of you as an adoptive mom with a daughter from Ethiopia, but I forget that you have much wisdom to share in processing grief and loss-especially with children. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. It means a lot!