Thanksgiving Story

I am awake and writing at 2 am again. This morning it’s because I am thinking of what to tell my kids about our cancelled Thanksgiving, and how I will have to be positive and flexible about it even though I feel anything but.

I am thinking about all the other stories I have this year that make it hard to put a happy spin on more disappointment.

I have a story about hectic afternoons at work, wiping down exam rooms and hooking pregnant women to monitors and typing up ultrasound reports while sweating beneath my mask, struggling to keep up with all the patients in an understaffed clinic.

I have a story of a woman miscarrying alone because of visitor restrictions in the clinic. Of watching her cry in the dark after telling her the baby had no heartbeat, unsure if I was allowed to put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

A story about the night after middle school went remote again and Stephen was sad, and I was sad, and I couldn’t make it better.

The 8th grade story of my teenage son, who went from having a full life with school, Christian club, robotics club, and running cross-country, to spending his days alone in the basement, isolated from his friends.

The story about the morning I spent locked in my room, waiting for my COVID test result, hoping my family wasn’t exposed, and wondering when I would be allowed to kiss my kids goodnight again.

The story about when I got home from work and Reid raced to give me a hug, and instead I had to back away from him, with my hands up, and tell him “Not yet! No hugs and kisses yet! I have to change and wash first!”

His face fell and shoulders dropped, and he said, “Oh yeah, I forgot.” And I felt like a horrible mother, even though I know on some level he understands.

And now the story of the google sheet I created to plan thanksgiving with my family: J was bringing salad and pie; A was bringing relish and cocktails; S was bringing rolls and stuffing. Now they’re bringing nothing, since I cancelled as the COVID numbers spiraled out of control.

So now I have to tell my kids about another disappointment, another cancelled event. It makes me want to cry. I think of the place setting craft I bought, sitting unopened in its bag, and about the names we were going to write on them to welcome the guests who aren’t coming any more.

But I can’t tell them a story about my failed spreadsheet and irrelevant place settings. I know when I talk to them, I have to smile and be upbeat about eating turkey by ourselves. “I know it’s a bummer,” I’ll say. “I’m feeling sad, too. But we still get to eat special food and I’ll make you special drinks and we can eat on the fancy plates!”

And when I go to work early on Monday for another surely stressful day, I will tell myself the stories I need to keep going: I am brave, I am strong, I am a good mother, my PPE will keep me safe.

Moms can’t lie, but they have to edit. One of the most important jobs we have as parents is the stories we tell our children. We have to keep their world safe, and their life stable, even when we feel like it’s crumbling around us.

I wonder: what COVID stories will my children tell? If I do a good job editing, their stories won’t be very interesting–just a blip in their childhood rather than a break.

In the evenings, when I am exhausted after dinner, the house is full of noise. I hear Reid and Will wrestling and giggling on the floor, Stephen playing guitar, and Adrian playing outside. The twins tell me about fun Friday, and about the games they play in gym. Adrian tells me about his friends and drawings. Even as my mind races with anxiety about what the next month holds for work and school, I think: they sound like everything is normal. And I hope they feel like it is. That means I’ve done my job as their storyteller.

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5 Reasons why it’s ok to be a *slightly* unreliable Mom

It was 5:45am and my dad, my four sons and I were aboard a shuttle to the Denver airport.  The passengers around us regarded us with stony silence and cold glares.  We had delayed the van’s departure with our lateness, having underestimated the time it would take to get the kids ready, unbuckle their carseats from the van, pack the suitcases, and shlep it all to the waiting airport shuttle in the dark.

We were relieved to have made it and relaxed into our seats, finally calm after our harried race to the shuttle.

“Mom, what time does the airplane leave?”  Stephen asked out of the silence.

“Sometime around 9?” I replied.

“What time, EXACTLY?”

I sighed and rubbed my tired face.  “I’m not sure exactly.  I’ll get my ticket out at the airport and check when we get there.  But sometime around 9.”

“You should check now!  I need to know exactly!”  He insisted.

I looked at him, his face anxious.  “Why do you need to know?”

Then it dawned on me.  I laughed.  “Do you not trust me and Grandpa to get you to the right place at the right time anymore?”

He shook his head vigorously.  “No!  I need to know too!”

I opened my backpack and shared the details of the trip with him, feeling vaguely guilty that I’d let him down.  But I guess part of growing up is realizing you can’t always count on grownups.

I wrote about my lesson on reminders for Kindergarten Stephen here and here.  When I didn’t remind him to return his library book, he blamed me for forgetting it and I realized I needed to stop being in charge of his library book and gym shoes and homework folder.**

3 kids and 6 years later it’s laughable I ever did such things!  When the twins were in Kindergarten last year, I had NO IDEA when gym or library or PJ day or whatever day was.  And they have never expected me to.  Sometimes they remember, and sometimes they forget, but they never blame me.  Now with 4 kids in school, one in middle school, work, scouts, piano, Stephen’s clubs, my failing middle-aged brain…Stephen has to text me to remember what time to pick him up.

I was feeling vaguely guilty about some reminder role-reversals, until I realized: it’s good to be an unreliable mom.  Not only because I want to feel better about myself, but also for selfless reasons!  Such as:

  1.  Teaches kids to think for themselves.  When kids rely 100% on adults and have complete confidence that everything is taken care of, they can check out and leave the thinking to the grownups.  But if they know that Mom may drop the ball, they stay engaged and think through what needs to happen.
  2. Teaches kids to take responsibility for themselves.  Kids need to take responsibility for their own school work and effort.  They shouldn’t be relying on grownups to manage their lives or blaming their parents when things go wrong.
  3.  Teaches kids they are important.  When my kids rescue me or a situation, they feel important.  And they ARE!  I don’t just pretend we’re a team, we seriously are a team.  I rely on them to help me, and they know it.
  4.  Teaches kids managing a family is hard.  When kids help shoulder chores and responsibility, they learn how difficult managing everything in the family can be.  They don’t take my hard work for granted.  It’s ok for it to not look easy.
  5. Everyone makes mistakes, how do we handle them?  The kids see me forgetting things and having to live with the consequences.  They see me working to solve problems, and how I brainstorm plans B and C after plan A got messed up.

Those of you with more brain cells and fewer children may want to ask yourselves: “Am I being too reliable for my kids?”  Or at least, don’t judge me when I get a text from Stephen that makes me smack myself in the head and yell “Oh yeah, robotics club!”  And go running out the door to pick him up.  In the Vogan family, sometimes we remind each other, and sometimes things fall through the cracks.  But I don’t feel bad about it anymore, because I’m only one player on the team and we all need to be engaged to win the game.

**Incidental note on how this is playing out in middle school.  Last year at parent/teacher conferences, one of Stephen’s teachers rushed up to me and said, “Don’t worry about that email you got about Stephen’s missing assignment.  It’s ok now, he took care of it!”  I looked at her blankly.  “I didn’t know anything was missing.  Honestly I barely read those emails.  It’s his job to get his work done and turned in on time.”  She looked surprised.  “Wow,” she said.  “He was the first student to approach me about what he needed to do for completion after the notification went out.”  Boom, unreliable parenting for the win again….

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The Tooth Fairy (again)

We’ve had a lull in tooth-fairy visits, but all of a sudden….she’s back!

Reid and Will lose teeth within a week of each other (yes, the same tooth.  They have identical dental xrays….creepy, I know).  Reid lost a tooth, Will lost a tooth, Reid lost a tooth, Adrian popped one out to shake things up, Reid lost a tooth…..and Will wiggled and wiggled and wiggled so he wouldn’t be left behind, and pop….out it came.  (At school.  He returned home with a little plastic tooth box for safekeeping and a blue note from the nurse which stated “Lost tooth.  Child rested and returned to class.”  I didn’t know losing a tooth was so strenuous.)

The tooth-fairy diligently visited for tooth-pickup on each of these occasions until recently.  She forgot one night.  Reid was VERY disappointed.  He loves the tooth-fairy and was eagerly anticipating her visit.  She felt guilty about this lapse, but we must remember that tooth-fairy fatigue happens.  Sometimes she worked all day and had a cubscout meeting and fell asleep binge-watching Outlander, okay!?  Give a fairy a break!  

It could be worse, after all.  When Stephen lost a tooth over the summer, the tooth-fairy failed to make an appearance for an entire week.  Each morning Stephen would sit at the breakfast table with his brothers, lamenting, “Gosh Mom, the tooth-fairy forgot to come AGAIN last night!  She is SO forgetful!  Do you think she’ll actually remember tonight??”  *eyebrows wiggling madly, attempting to wink conspiratorially*

“Oh really?”  I would say, glaring at him.   “Well, it’s hard for fairies to fly when people don’t believe in them.  Disbelief makes them lose their energy.  I guess we’ll see how she’s feeling tonight.” *mash his foot under the table* (Read about Stephen losing his fairy faith here…she’s still bitter)

But she eventually found her way into Stephen’s room, the poor fairy, crawling desperately until the end, striving valiantly beneath the weight of a boy’s skepticism.

Little Reid, whose tooth had not disappeared the first night (the tooth-fairy was away on urgent *ahem* business, he learned), found a baggie of quarters under his pillow, along with a fun-size package of M&M’s, as recompense for tardiness.

“Just coins!?”  He wailed.  “I thought I got a dollar!”

“Did you count the coins?”  I asked.  “What are they?”

He dumped them on the floor.

“Nickels,” Will declared confidently, peering over Reid’s shoulder.

“Actually, they’re quarters.  Do you know how much a quarter is worth?”

The little red heads shake back and forth.

“10 cents!”  Assisted Adrian.

“No, 25 cents!”  I said.

“Oh yeah, we knew that, Mom,” they assured me.

“I have four!”  Reid cried.

“So four quarters is worth a dollar,” I explained.  “That’s the same as if you had gotten a dollar bill.”

Reid gave a little smile through his tears but looked unsure.  Adrian patted him enthusiastically on the shoulder.  “See, it’s a dollar Reid, it’s ok!”  He assured him.

A few days later, Will also received a baggie of 4 quarters (and an M&M packet, even though his visit wasn’t late.  The tooth-fairy is dedicated to fairness, especially when it comes to twins.  She agonized over this choice, and what would be truly fair: he shouldn’t really get an ‘extra’ since I’m on time.  That wouldn’t be fair, Reid had to wait.  But Will would be upset if he didn’t get a bag of M&M’s and Reid did….but Reid’s M&M’s were interest for tardiness….but did anyone but me even know that?  Why didn’t I leave Reid a note to explain that?  I should have written a note, like those pinterest fairies.  Maybe Mom could explain?  Do first graders care about these nuances?  Geez, fairy, just give him the M&M’s and stop being such a psycho!)

He dumped his quarters out on the floor excitedly, exclaiming “Four….nickles!  Or dimes!  Or that other thing!  I don’t know!  Yay!”

Note to self: review coins with children.

Note to fairy:  just give them pennies next time and they won’t even know the difference.

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Read about the first family Tooth Fairy visit here

 

 

 

 

 

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Boy Land

Parenting boys seems to be a balancing act of preventing disaster while also allowing some risky activities.  Boys engage in a constant stream of activities that could potentially result in injury and/or destruction.  Some of these (ie flipping kids out of the back of a wagon/racing kindergartners down the driveway go-cart style in now-broken-wheeled wagon*) should clearly be squelched.  Others (ie the hail-inspired game “Hailer” in which one pelts his brothers with little balls as they run around the yard screaming**) may be ignored with a grimace and a pair of good headphones.

A summer’s worth of managing these incidents may lead even the most hardy boy-mom to forsake her ideals and suggest through clenched teeth: “How about everyone just go sit on the couch?  Watch TV, play video games, I don’t care….just don’t hurt anyone for a while? Doesn’t that sound nice??”

But alas, even the couch isn’t safe…

Reid and Will spent one afternoon “surfing” down the stairs on couch cushions (which pre-boys I believed were for sitting on).  I watched their antics, debating the merits of this activity for a few minutes and then commented, “Uh…guys?  This seems a little dangerous….maybe we should….not?”

To which Will rolled his eyes and replied in disgust, “It’s FINE, Mom.  We’re SURFING.”  And launched himself headfirst off the top stair, landing on his stomach on the cushion, and gliding safely to down the stairs.

Um….ignore and hope for the best category?  It seems safe-ish??  My sister and I used to race down the stairs in sleeping bags, and look how great we turned out!

I went to the kitchen and back to fixing dinner for approximately 2 minutes, when I heard ominous thunks from the stairwell, followed by crying.  I raced to the top of the stairs and saw Will sprawled on his back at the bottom, his couch cushion surf board stuck a few stairs above by the velcro lining the bottom.

I narrowed my eyes.  “See!?” I demanded.  “Let’s be done with this game, guys.  It’s dangerous.”

“No!”  Shrieked Will, in between sobs.  “I’m <sob, sob> fine <hiccup>.  We’re still <snot slurp> playing!”  He wiped his nose with the back of his hand, grabbed his cushion and resumed position at the top of the stairs.

Reid’s face, about to collapse in misery at the end of the game, turned triumphant and he defiantly took his place next to Will.

I sighed.  “Well….ok, I guess.  You just crashed and you know what that feels like.  If you’re willing to risk it again, I guess it’s up to you.”

They resumed their “surfing” with a little more caution, and no further incidents.

Reid and Will have a new couch-cushion game, called “couch-cushion fighting.”  They begin by “warming-up,” which means running in circles around the toy room 10 times.  Then they grab their cushions and stand at opposite ends of the room.  They yell, “Round 1, ding ding ding!” and run at each other top speed, crashing cushions and pushing until one (usually Reid) falls over.  Then the winner jumps on the fallen brother on his cushion and yells “sandwiched!”

Reid being “sandwiched”

Then they pop back up and resume position at opposite walls for “Round 2, ding ding ding!”  After 10 rounds, it’s back to running laps in the toy room and more cushion-wrestling interspersed by practicing ninja/spider man moves (aka leaping off the top of the couch and landing/spinning in interesting ways).

All things considered, I think I vote for couch-cushion fighting….but maybe not so close to the TV!

*Read full account of Wagon Adventures here

**When played indoors, “Hailer” is accompanied by the Imagine Dragons song “Thunder” blasted at top volume from an old iphone.

 

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The Measure of a Man

A few weeks ago, report cards came home.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a ‘B’ for Adrian in math, especially recalling the number of failed tests I discretely threw in the recycling bin.

“Good job,” I congratulated him.  “Way to go, you brought that grade up!”

He looked at the floor and shrugged.  I put my arm around him, thinking perhaps he was sad it wasn’t an ‘A.’  “Hey, buddy, that’s really great, I’m proud of you!”

He nodded and shrugged at the floor again.  This wasn’t the reaction I expected; usually he would be beaming.  “What’s wrong, aren’t you happy about it?”  I asked.

“Well….”  he began.  He sighed loudly.  “Well, maybe I was copying off my friend’s paper.”

“As in you were cheating?”  I asked.

“Just a little!”  He said.  “Ms. M might have to talk to you about it.”

“Oh geez.  Don’t cheat, Adrian.  It’s ok if you have lower grades, you don’t need to copy off your friend’s paper.  Just do your best.”

“I know,” he said.  “It’s just hard for me.  But I only did it a little bit.  Don’t worry, the teacher might not talk to you if I stop,” he said, patting my shoulder reassuringly.  “You never know!”  He said, regaining his usual brightness.  He grinned at me and ran downstairs.

Today, I attended a luncheon for the Middle School celebrating students who achieved a 4.0 last semester.  The principal talked about how hard it is to get straight A’s while I watched Stephen, my gifted protege.  It sure didn’t seem hard for him.  My own mother prayed I would get a ‘B’ so I would chill out and see the world didn’t end below 90% accuracy.

One of the best lessons I learned about grades was from my high school Honors English teacher.  She was calling us up one by one to talk about our grade in class.  My friend went up and returned to her desk smiling.

“What did she say?”  I whispered.

“She said I did a great job and she’s proud of me,” my friend replied.  “I got a B+!”

“Way to go,” I said, smiling sincerely at her.  Inside, I was thinking of the accolades I was sure to receive with my solid A.

When my turn came, the teacher said, “You have an A, 94%.”

“Great!”  I said with a smile.

The teacher looked up at me soberly from her desk.  “Not great,” she said.  “You haven’t been trying in class and I think you can do a lot better.  I’d like to see better work from you next semester.”

I was stunned.  She said “good job” to a B+ and “try harder” to an A!?  But as I returned to my desk, I realized she was right.  An A without effort didn’t mean much.  The next semester, I worked harder in her class than any other, and I don’t even know what my grade was at the end.  But I felt good, because I earned it.

I have nothing against grades, but when I attend ceremony after ceremony for Stephen, who has never had to study, and see Adrian struggling on the sidelines, I wonder what we’re celebrating exactly.  Don’t we have it backwards?  Why are we cheering for the kids who already have everything?  Maybe some of them worked for their 4.0, but what about the kids who worked for a 3.0?

This afternoon, I will go to Adrian’s parent/teacher conference, which Adrian is anxious about because he’s worried about what the teacher will say about his grades and his cheating.

“I already talked to her about copying your friend’s paper, and she said you turned it around,” I reassured him.  “And I don’t care what your grades are, as long as you’re doing your best.  I’d rather see a D you earned than a B you didn’t.”

Indeed, Adrian’s teacher selected him for the “Bobcat of the Quarter,” a character award, because he has been doing his own work and trying harder.  But his math grade has suffered for his honesty.  I am prouder of Adrian’s bobcat award than all of Stephen’s honor roll awards (though he got a couple bobcats in there as well!).

Last night, Adrian cried in distress about his upcoming conference.  “It’s just hard for me,” he said.  “I always fail everything.”  I rubbed his back until he calmed down.

“Adrian, what are the points of the scout law?”  I asked.

“A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent,” he recited immediately.

“Good.  Is there anything in there about grades?”  I asked.  He shook his head.  “Do you know the fruits of the spirit?”

He shrugged, less well-versed in these.

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control,” I said.  “Those are the things God wants you to be.  Are grades in that list?”

He shook his head again.

I hugged him.  “The most important things in life have nothing to do with grades.  That’s not who you are.  You earned the Bobcat Award with your character.  You look at it and remember that, that’s what counts.”

He sniffled and smiled at me.

I think we like grades because they are numbers that are easy to get, and quantify achievement.  As grown-ups, I think we still look to numbers to calculate our self-worth: the numbers on our paycheck, our bank account, our Facebook page. But character is harder to measure.  I hope I can grow in the fruit of the spirit and points of the scout law along with my children, even though I will never get a number for them.

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Christmas Magic

Reid had a sad day on Monday.  Then on Tuesday, he had a no good, terrible, very bad day.

Reid and Will got brand new spider-man hoodies as an early Christmas present from Grandma.  I was going to wash them and write their names in them before wearing, as prudence dictates.  But of course R&W HAD to wear their hoodies to school IMMEDIATELY, as 5 year olds dictate.  It was Monday at 6:54 am–time for the bus–and I didn’t want to deal with meltdowns in my bleary-eyed state.  I threw caution to the wind.

“Don’t lose them this ONE DAY and I’ll wash them when you get home!”  I yelled down the driveway at their retreating backs.

I’m sure you already predicted the outcome.  Only one Spiderman hoodie came back.

“Really, guys!?  ONE DAY!”  I said.

“I left it on the playground, and when I went back to get it, it was gone!”  Wailed Reid.  “I hope a bad guy didn’t steal it!”

“I think your standard bad guy runs bigger than a child’s 6,”  I reassured him.  “Someone probably took it to lost& found.  Look there tomorrow!”

That evening, Reid lost his tooth while brushing his teeth and put it under his pillow, cheering him up.  He went to sleep with a smile on his face: “the tooth fairy will come tonight, and tomorrow I’m going to find my hoodie!”

The tooth fairy DID visit that night (Despite her unreliable reputation.  Tooth Fairy of the Many Excuses services our home: “a lot of kids lost teeth this week, she’s probably running behind” or “You lost it late in the day and she didn’t get the message during business hours” when she is less than prompt)

Reid excitedly discovered the dollar under his pillow, ate breakfast, and couldn’t find the dollar again….gone.  It went downhill from there: terrible, no good, very bad morning.

  1. Lost tooth fairy money
  2. Didn’t get to write the new day number on the “Days til Christmas” countdown whiteboard (Adrian beat him to it)
  3. Had to collect downstairs trash instead of upstairs trash (Will beat him to it)
  4. Amorphous daily advent calendar chocolate (very distressing to eat Christmas chocolate that doesn’t represent anything)
  5. Ran out of time to fill water bottle before school (due to excessive time spent crying about the above items)

And that was all before 7am!  “Love you, have a great day at school!”  I yelled down the driveway at their retreating backs.

They came home that day unable to find the hoodie or the dollar.

“We looked in Lost and Found,” Will said.

“I looked too and it’s not there!”  Adrian added.

“A BAD GUY STEALED IT!”  Reid wailed.

“I really don’t think a bad guy would take your sweatshirt.”

“Someone took it on the playground,” said Will.  “A first-grader took it but it has something from his nose on it.”

“What is his name!?  What do you mean there’s something from his nose on it?”

“J took it and we told him it was Reid’s!  Then he put something FROM HIS NOSE on it!”  Will said.

“Uh-oh.  Well try to get it back and I’ll come by today and look through the lost and found again.”

Reid patted my shoulder kindly.  His little blue eyes looked earnestly into mine.  “Don’t worry, Mom.  We’ll get it back.  Will asked the elf in his class.”

Will nodded proudly.  “I told Snowflake the elf we need help and to get it back for us!”

Oh dear.

“Ok, well that’s a thought too,” I offered (sorry to you elf on the shelf fans; loving your pics of elves tied to railroad tracks and pooping chocolate kisses and all, but the school using dolls to try to manipulate kids to cooperate at the end of the semester…. ?)

I drove to school to check out lost and found, full of faith in humanity and in my children’s inability to find things.  As I was handing over my ID at the front desk, attempting to enter the secure fortress that school has become, I noticed a spider-man hoodie sitting on the receptionist’s desk.

“That’s exactly what I’m looking for!” I exclaimed, pointing at it through the glass.

“What?  Oh no, this was just dropped off for another student with his lunch, that’s not yours,” she said.

“Oh ok, that’s funny,” I said.  I continued to stare at the bright red and blue jacket.

“But really, that looks EXACTLY like what my son lost.  It’s a brand new spider-man hoodie?  Size 6?  He left it on the playground and said maybe a first-grader took it by accident?  I didn’t have a chance to write his name on it yet.”

She picked up the hoodie and checked the tag.  No name.  “Hm, yes, size 6.”  She glanced at the receptionist next to her, then back at me.

“Who is that supposed to be for?”  The other receptionist asked her.

“J, in first grade,” she responded.

“That’s too small for a first grader, too,” the woman pointed out.

They shrugged and handed me the jacket.

Thanks, little elves….maybe we got some Christmas magic after all!  Do you have a connection to the Tooth Fairy and lost dollars?

 

 

 

 

 

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Bad Guys

On a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon, Stephen and I made apple pie together.  As we sliced, we talked.  I asked him what he learned at Sunday school that morning.

“Oh,” he said.  “Just safety stuff.”

“Yeah?  What kind of safety stuff?”

“Just what to do if there’s a fire or whatever.  And stranger danger.”

I nearly choked on an apple.  Stranger danger!?”

No disrespect, and I think our church is great….but Catholics warned him against stranger danger?  Let’s not pretend strangers are the greatest threat to my altar boy!

“Ok, stranger danger, but remember that unfortunately you are more likely to be hurt by someone you know.  A teacher, coach, pastor, priest, scout leader, family member etc?  Not someone jumping out of a bush.”

“Yeah yeah mom we don’t need to talk about it again!  I know I know!”

I sighed.  “I know, honey, it’s not something anyone likes to talk about.  I just want you to be aware that it’s not usually strangers who hurt kids.”

The next day on NPR, I heard the statistic that suicide has become the leading cause of death among adolescents.  And then a segment on what schools can do to prepare for shooters.

My boys like to play “good guys” and “bad guys.”  In their games, there is no confusion about who is who, and the good guys always win.  I smile at their play, and realize that “bad guys” live with Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.   Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things, and it turns out they’re all the same; just people.

The person statistically most likely to shoot my son is himself.  A trusted friend or family member is statistically most likely to assault my children.

It’s more comforting to believe in bad guys.

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Exciting Life

When I tucked Reid into bed, he had a huge smile on his face.  He had lost his first tooth at lunch.  The school gave him a plastic tooth necklace to keep it safe, and he put it under his pillow.

“The tooth fairy hasn’t come yet,” he said.  “I felt my tooth and it’s still there!”

“She won’t come until you’re asleep!” I said.

He smiled and shivered with excitement.

“Are you happy?”  I asked.

“The tooth fairy is coming AND tomorrow is Johnny Appleseed Day!”  He exclaimed.  “It’s all so so so exciting!”

The wonderful life of Kindergarten!

(Though Reid and Will were disappointed that they still had to collect the trash and do chores on Johnny Appleseed day…they thought they’d get a pass due to the “holiday”!)

 

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Growing up: a poem

My son,

I see you.

Standing on the edge, razor thin

Between childhood and manhood

 

Growth hormone

Testosterone

Molecules steal my baby

In pieces every night

 

Are you the same person

Who shared my body

Sucked my breast

Slept in my bed

 

I feel like God.

I see your past

And your future

In the present time

 

Intimate love, bodies mingled

Me

You

Another woman

 

Tomorrow

Standing on tiptoes to kiss a rough cheek

Yesterday

Your lips suckling in the dark

 

Today

I see you.

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Mystery floater

You give away the diapers, your kids are all at school, you think you’re coasting on Easy Street, and then you hear from the bathroom:

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“There’s poop in the tub.”

“What do you mean there’s…..oh my God….THERE’S POOP IN THE TUB!!  Boys, who pooped in the tub!?”

Reid and Will turned red and looked at each other.  They shrugged.

Reid offered, “I don’t know.  Wasn’t me.”

Will said, “I don’t know.  Wasn’t me.”

Eric said, “Someone sat there LOOKING at the toilet one foot away while he pooped in the tub!  Seriously, who did that?”

Reid and Will exchanged guilty looks.  “I didn’t do it,” they chorused.

I got Reid and Will out of the tub and into our shower while Eric sanitized the tub.  “Two guilty faces and a turd in the tub but no one did it,” he fumed as he cleaned.

The next evening at dinner, we were discussing the incident and chuckling.

“Still no confessions?”  I asked.  “Maybe they really didn’t realize they did it.  What do you think, Reid?”

Reid shrugged.  “I don’t know.  It wasn’t me.”

“What do you think, Will?”

Will shrugged.  “I don’t know.”

“Willy…..”  Eric prompted.

Finally Will looked up with a little shy smile.  “Well,” he said.  “My body made me do it!”

 

 

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