Losing your home and your things isn’t ideal under any circumstance. Tossing out our children’s toys was about as heartbreaking as tossing out ruined family photos for me. My kids didn’t deserve to lose what they lost. They aren’t able to grasp the reasons why this has happened to us. I kept silent about it for the first week. They knew we weren’t staying with family “just because.” They saw me cry and they heard conversations, but they never knew what was really going on.
I took them both aside one morning before we headed back home to start demo. I told them that things would be different and the furniture we had would be replaced. I told them it was ok to be sad when they saw the house, but that soon Mama and Daddy would have it all fixed. They just stared at me with blank stares.
The ride home was depressing to say the least. Most of our area was affected so the debris was everywhere. I told my husband, “They are going to remember today forever, you know. This is going to impact them in some way.” Turning into the driveway, they started recognizing our things. “Mom! Our couch is outside!” “There’s my book sack!” My heart was beating so fast … I didn’t know if they were ready or not.
We walked around and looked at what needed to be done. Again I reassured them that it looks like a mess now but in a few months you wouldn’t even know what happened. Inside I was praying that the words I was saying were both true and honest. I didn’t want to give them false hope about the situation. Lying to them would only cause more harm than good.
Navigating this with children is such a hard thing to do. You want to keep a routine of some sort, but that is almost impossible. School was out for over 2 weeks and every day we were having to devote so much time to getting sheetrock out and cleaning up, it felt like we only saw them a couple of hours each day. The adventure has since worn off and now living out of suitcases and Rubbermaid containers is almost nauseating. We are tired and the kids know it.
We try to keep an open dialogue with them on what is happening. I tell both of them every day that we are one day closer to getting back into our house. I tell them that if they ever feel sad or mad about anything, that Mom and Dad want to hear it. I tell them that their feelings are valid and that we feel the same way. I tell them that lots of kids in school are going through the exact same thing so they shouldn’t feel alone.
Has this affected them? Yes. It has. Elliot is five and has never been one to disobey us. Now she wants to push every button we have. She has been defiant and has shown some separation anxiety. I just have to remember that she is going through a tough time and needs as much love as we can give. Jax is eight and while his attitude has been good, he hasn’t said much. I can tell that his little brain is spinning with thoughts.
Both of the schools the kids are attending are now offering group disaster counseling. I signed both of them up in hopes that they might be able to get some feelings out to others that they are unable to say to us. They might hear from other kids their ages that are going through the same thing and that may make them feel a little better.
I am in my mid-thirties and am still living in a fog. I cannot imagine being a young kid and having this happen. The only thing I can do for them is love them, talk to them, show patience, and be as positive as I can be.