Over Ice Cream: breaking the news to our boys

“When my parents told me were going to Germany I felt excited. I thought of how much fun we would have. I was about to jump up and down. But then I started feeling sad a little bit. Because I didn’t want to leave our dog and my friends. I started crying easily.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to move. I’ve told everyone that. It’s hard.”

“All I felt was sad. That’s all. I was going to miss my friends.”

Ice cream felt appropriate for the situation. Two bowls, filled with two scoops each, makes for two happy boys.
I waited for each of them to eat a few bites. Then I talked. “What if I told you guys that you could go to your dad’s school next year?”
Dylan’s eyes lit up. He’d been begging to go to school with Tyler for the last couple of years. “Really?”
“Yep. And what if I told you that I’d be at home all the time. I can come to your school and help you in your class.”
“That would be awesome,” Evan announced with his mouth full.
“And you can take swimming classes,” Tyler chimed in.
“And biking class,” I added.
The smiles around the table grew exponentially, but then something changed in Dylan’s eyes. It was too good to be true. He’d added it all up, and it didn’t amount to us staying put. “Where will this happen? Here?”
“No.” I reached for his hand.
“Did you get the job in Germany?” This time he turned to Tyler.
“Yeah, I did,” Tyler answered.
It took only seconds for tears to well up in Dylan’s eyes. Only a couple more for them to spill over onto his cheeks and fall next to his ice cream bowl.
“This will be a good thing,” I said.
“No, it won’t. I’m going to have to move away from my friends.”
“But not forever. Just for two years.”
“Two years?” Evan questioned. “How many days is that?”
“About seven hundred,” Tyler answered.
“That’s a lot of days.” Evan took another bite.
“My friends probably won’t remember me after that.” Dylan hopped off his seat. “And I bet there’s lots of bullies in Germany. Really bad ones.”
“There’s bullies everywhere,” I said.
“And I don’t speak the language.”
“You’ll learn the language.”
“Then that’ll just be harder on you.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I won’t remember English anymore. You’ll have to reteach me.”
I laughed a little. “I don’t think you’ll forget.”
The boys finished their treat. Tyler and I gave them a little extra time to hang out before bed, to let them unwind and let the news sink in. Then we brushed our teeth and gathered in Evan’s room for bedtime prayers.
“I don’t think I’m going to pray tonight. I think I’ll just wait in my room,” Dylan said.
“I’d like you to stay with us,” I replied.
“I just can’t be in here right now. I’m going to go cry.”
“What? Why are you going to cry?”
“I think you know why.” Dylan turned on his heels, but before he could make it to the hall a deep sob left his chest.
“Oh, buddy.” I turned to Evan. “I’ll come back, okay?”
Evan gave a nod. I followed Dylan to his room where he was already laying in bed, crying into his pillow.
“It’s okay to feel sad,” I told him. “I feel sad too. I’m going to miss a lot of people. But I promise, I wouldn’t agree to do this if I thought it would be bad for us.”
“But it is going to be bad. I don’t want to go.”
“You don’t have to want to go. You won’t get into trouble for not wanting to go. You won’t get in trouble for being sad or mad. We’re in this together. We’ll get through it as a team.” I reached my arms out and Dylan responded. He leaned his head against my shoulder and cried a while longer. I cried too.
Truth be told, that was one of the hardest nights of my life. Watching Dylan’s heart break made mine ache as well. I questioned momentarily if we’d made the right choice. If we should just stay and take it all back. But in my heart, I knew that God had given us this opportunity and he would get us through it.
With faith, I prayed over my son that night, for comfort, for peace and for our entire family to be stronger as a result of this journey.



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