So, I thought I had it sussed after yesterday's questions about the 'why don't I have brothers and sisters?' I figured I could avert his attention easily enough that I would be able to get away with awkward conversations for at least another three years. I was even about to stock up on chocolate as per Dannah's suggestion!
But it seems he's a little quicker on the uptake than I give him credit for.
We have our time every single night. Once his homework is done and we've had dinner, once he's had a bath and he is ready for bed, we set aside 'guy time.'
We watch TV or we talk. And because he has his PJs on at this time, it's ok for him to ask for cuddles. It seems an unwritten rule with my boy that he will only ask for cuddles (except for moments of upset) when he is in his pyjamas. But that's our agreed time every night. I turn my phone off for that time and he puts his toys and games away cos that's when we 'catch up.' He tells me about his hard day at school, the spelling tests, the number crunching (times tables are hard work) and why Declan got a smiley face taken off his chart (because talking back is naughty and it's cheeky and you should respect your teachers, right?). He asks me how work was, whether Samantha (one of my employees he has a little crush on, I think) was there and how much I missed him.
I cherish that part of my day, the quiet time with him.
Anyway, our rule is no interuptions at that time. That's the way it works and it's the way it's been a good while now. HE TOOK ADVANTAGE!!
"Dad....." he asked, as soon as we sat down, "Why didn't you and Mum live together?"
"Erm.... well... it was..."
"This morning you said you'd tell me 'another time.' It's another time now. Will you tell me now?"
You can't really say fairer than that and I think, for a six year old boy, he can understand a remarkably greater deal than I often give him credit for. So I decided to take the plunge.
"Ok. Well, your Mum lived in Russia with you for a long time and I live here in England, so..."
"But you never came to see me did you?"
Ah. Awkward. I was becoming clear at this point that there was no getting around it at all.
"Ok. You want the truth, son?"
"Got your grown up head on, cos this is complicated stuff?"
"Let me put it on."
At this point he (purely for comic effect) ran out of the room and back one moment later informing me,
"Ok... right. Well, your Mum and me decided, before you came along, that we didn't really want to be girlfriend and boyfriend anymore.... so,"
"Why?" he interrupted.
"Because. Well. You know how it is, right? You see a girl at school you like and you might like her for a really long time and then she likes someone else or you like someone else or you just decide one lunch time you wanna hang with the guys?"
"Yes. I liked Natalie but then I liked Nicole and Melissa and now I like Katie."
"So did you like someone else or did my Mum like someone else?"
"We both just decided that maybe we liked each other more like friends than like girlfriend and boyfriend. Do you understand what I mean?"
"So, by the time you came along...."
"I came from my Mum's belly didn't I?"
"And you put me there?"
"My friend says a boyfriend and a girlfriend go to the hospital and they open the girlfriend's belly and the boyfriend put a little tiny egg in there and then they close it all up and it grows into a baby."
That was a phew moment, courtesy of the story that 'Liam's Mum,' had concocted for Liam!
"That's sometimes how it works. But the boyfriend doesn't have to be there to put the egg in. So sometimes the boyfriend doesn't know."
"Is that so the girlfriend can give him a surprise?"
"Absolutely. I didn't know about the egg and then your Mum and me decided we weren't going to be a boyfriend and girlfriend anymore. Then your Mum moved back to Russia and married your step-Dad. And so they looked after you."
"So when the girlfriend gets a new boyfriend if the egg hasn't grown yet is the baby her new boyfriend's?"
"No. Not exactly. But... you see.... I still didn't know about the egg until you were four. Do you remember when you first came to England?"
"That's the first time I knew."
"Why didn't my Mum tell you and then you could have come to see me."
"Because she was in Russia and we lost each other's phone numbers and...."
"She could have sent you a letter?"
"Well... ok. Can you get reeeeal grown up now, just for a few minutes?"
"Your Mum thought that, because I lived so so far away, it might be better for me not to know and for your not to know in case we missed each other all the time."
"Well, you know sometimes you go to your Auntie's house for a weekend and you have soooo much fun... but sometimes you want to come home just because you miss me? And you know sometimes I come and pick you up early just because I miss you?"
"Well, can you imagine if you were all the way in Russia all of the time and I could never get to you? That would make me so sad."
"And it would make me sad too, Dad."
"Yes, so see your Mum thought it would be best for us not to be sad. So she didn't tell me until she was able to bring you close by so we wouldn't have to miss each other. Don't you remember? When you first visited, it was only a short time that you came here forever?"
"Hmm. Yes I remember."
"So that's why I didn't live with you or see you."
"My Mum didn't like it when I got sad."
"She didn't like it when you got said either."
"I know. So do you understand why now?"
"Yes. She had to wait until she could bring me here."
"Yep. Wanna read a story??"
So there. It's done - he knows. Well, he knows a softened up version, but still knows. A fair few years earlier than I was anticipating telling him, but better sooner, I guess.
Shoulders minus weight = aaaaah :)