My wife is away on a business trip. During her past trips, our children have missed her so much that before this most recent outing of hers, we decided to buy two webcams – one for her laptop, and one for our home PC.
For six days (her trip is scheduled to last eleven days), we video-called each other and our three kids were able to talk with her and see her as well.
For today’s call, she did something different and asked each child if they missed her.
Our oldest son, Christopher, is eleven and has had enough experience with leading questions to know how to answer this query with what she wanted to hear. I knew that he and his younger brother did not miss her all that much because they had been able to see her every day and tell her everything about their day. It was almost like she was still at home – albeit in a little box on the computer monitor.
He answered with how much he missed her and couldn’t wait for her to be back.
Our youngest child, Ophelia, really did miss her mother (what did you expect…she’s five!) and told her so in her high-pitched slightly-lispy voice.
My wife was elated to hear how much she was missed.
Our middle child, nine-year old Jared, took his place in front of the webcam and was asked if he missed her.
He simply said, “No.”
“Not even a little bit?”, my wife asked back as the pixels from her webcam struggled to capture her crestfallen face.
“No,” Jared replied.
I was reminded of the scene in William Shakespeare’s King Lear where the King brings his three daughters together and asks them to tell him how much they love him. The two eldest, Goneril and Regan, butter up the old monarch with flowery speeches overflowing with protestations of love.
When Lear asks his youngest daughter, Cordelia, what more can she add to the words of her sisters, she simply replies “Nothing”.
She truly can add nothing to the over-the-top flattery of her siblings because, in her heart, she feels the love a daughter feels for her father. No more and no less.
A few lines later, Lear laments “So young, and so untender?” Cordelia responds with “So young, my lord, and true.”
I give my boy points for honesty.
When I spoke with her after the kids had said their good-byes and went off to play, my wife remarked, in a sarcastic tone, how nice it was to know that Jared didn’t even miss her anymore.
I explained about how he spoke the truth because, due to the webcam, it was as if she wasn’t really gone. I reminded her that if we had not bought the webcams, he would be missing her and would be miserable like he had been on all her other trips.
She understood and felt better about his honesty.
Thank goodness she didn’t have to stand in a storm with her Fool and yell “Blow, winds, and crack you cheeks!” before she understood that her middle child does miss and love her.