Actually….They Do Know

. 2 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Actually….They Do Know

Oh, the best-laid plans of we silly mortals

Earlier, I wrote an article proclaiming that my children did not know about my heart problem. In it, I wrote that I’d need to assess when and how to tell them very carefully. I had to find the right moment in their maturity – not a second too soon and not a minute too late. It had to happen at exactly the right time of day, when they were not too hyped-up or too tired. I had to tell them in the right setting; probably our home, but I wanted to possibly conclude somewhere else would make for a better location for this moment. Looking back, it seems I wanted every single detail, even the wind direction, to be perfect on the day I told them.

A few months ago, I was speaking with my wife. I thought we were alone in the kitchen. I mentioned to her that “I’d only need to spend one night in Cincinnati.”

A toe-headed, pony-tailed face popped out of nowhere. The tiny but bold voice of my younger daughter called out, “Why are you spending the night in Cincinnati? Is this because of your heart problem?”

I was flabbergasted. My obsessive fretting of weighing all the pros and cons of telling them about this big deal in my life — gone in a peep! I didn’t even have the wherewithal to ask her how she knew about my heart problem, and whether her sister knew too. It didn’t really matter. She knew, and so did my older daughter. They probably knew even before I wrote that article back in February.

All this time, I thought I was acting bravely and for the good of my daughters. Instead, I was merely deluding myself and evading the inevitable revelation of the issue.

Ah, the best-laid plans of silly mortals. Looking back, I can only chuckle at the extremity of my self-seriousness and whimsically smile at the sensibility of children.

My daughter casually popping in makes my heart issue seem less of a big deal to them and to me. It’s merely part of the backdrop of our life, neither irrelevant nor gnarly. Yes, it exists – and that’s all.

That’s what I wanted all along.

Thank you to my incredible Foster colleagues for reviewing and editing this essay: Alia Irshaid Gilbert, Alice Sholto-Douglas, Amber Williams, Cams Campbell, JG, and Alexander Hugh Sam.


Images created by Olivia Lund.