[Quiet Thoughts] We’re All “Somebody”

Photo: This wasn’t a week for lots of photo opportunities. This is the yard in the sunshine yesterday. Or was it Wednesday? I don’t know. I can’t keep up with everything.


Ursa Major got off the bus today and took my hand the way he does every day. I asked him how his day was. He said he liked it, but he said it was also a sad day. He poked out his little lip, fighting back tears.

“What in the world?” I asked, alarmed. “What happened, baby?”

“[One of his classmates] is leaving [kindergarten]. He’s moving away. To a new town. He won’t be in my class anymore.”

Tears came down, his little heart breaking.

There are some things that Mommy can’t fix. I squeezed his hand, told him I was sorry. I wanted to cry, too, feeling a bit of heaviness in my chest in reaction to his sincere and sweet tears.

“And he’s going to get a new bus and everything,” he went on to say. All of the elements of kindergarten are still mystical and personal for Major. He owns his school experience. To think that someone is leaving it, getting new things, is a mind-blowing concept to him.

I told him we’d bought cupcakes at Wegmans. That cheered him up a bit. I told him that his brother was waiting for him. That seemed to help, too.

When we got in the house, he bounced over to Minor and gave him a hug. But then the mood went somber again as he told his little brother about his friend.

Minor asked an interesting question: “Well, was he your friend?”

Major gave an even more interesting answer: “No. But he was somebody.”

I really love this exchange. I’m not sure that I can articulate it, but I will do my best.

The loss I feel when thinking about Grandy is still quite raw. While I’ve had to nod and smile through the condolences of people who I know and see, I’ve still also had to keep my feelings tucked away. To show my tears would be an act of intimacy that I can only reserve for the absolute closest of confidants here (also, I’m not big on crying in public). I’ve put on a lot of masks this week. I haven’t been my full self in order to keep putting my feet on the floor in the morning and get through the day.

But I have wondered a few times this week about whether or not my masking my feelings is actually a good lesson to teach my boys. Frankly, I’ve wondered if my compartmentalizing is actually a sign that something is wrong with me. Maybe I should talk to somebody. Maybe I should be more sad, more weepy, than I am. I said on Wednesday that I’m ashamed of how functional I’ve been. I still am. I know I don’t need to lose it, but I just wonder why I’m not more sensitive, tender. This couples with a sort of odd mom-guilt: I don’t want to teach them that the loss of a family member is something you “just deal with” and “move on” from. I want them to know it’s a process. I want them to know it’s ok to be sad, and that their feelings matter.

So for Major to get off the bus with tears in his eyes, having “lost” a classmate to the journey of life… it made me feel a little better. No bad lessons were taught this week. Breathe. Breathe, Woman. Breathe!

I think I’m grateful for Major’s answer because I love that he recognizes other kids, sees himself a connected to them, understands that he shares a class and a culture with them. The fact that this classmate (who he named) is a “somebody.” Not a stranger, not just some “other.” He recognized this classmate as a member of a body he belongs to and values, thus he values him as well. Wow… there is just so much power in that emotional growth.

Anyway, Dear Reader. I simply cannot believe that it’s Friday. I’m bewildered by it.Where there was nothing here last week, I do have wishes for you this week, Dear Reader. Thank you again for your patience with me.

On this rainy Friday, I wish you quiet. I wish open windows and natural sounds coming through. A brisk autumn breeze, the rain beating down on the sidewalk, the clatter and patter of the leaves falling to the ground. I hope the world offers a soothing feeling this Friday evening, Dear Reader. I hope it carries you away to peaceful places. I wish you a bit of intimacy this weekend: the private smile of your favorite person, an inside joke only one other person shares with you, a kiss the surprising that allures, the touch of a hand that lights a spark of joy. I wish you an excellently told story from an unexpected source that surprises and inspires you. I wish you your first warm, savory broth, preferably filled with freshly harvested veggies. I wish you two beautiful leaves found on a meandering walk, a peek at the moon, still gorgeous if you know where to look… and most of all, I wish you the warming words of someone you love, and the affirmation that you are, indeed, loved profoundly. Near and far, there are people in this world who love you beyond measure, who miss you when you’re not near. And please, learn a lesson from me: call someone this weekend and tell them you love them. Invest your time in the people you love and admire, let them feed you and nourish you with their stories. You never know when they won’t be available to you anymore.

I’m so grateful to you, Dear Reader. I’m grateful that you care about my story, and I’m beyond grateful that you sometimes choose to share your stories with me. Thank you.

Until Monday, take care.


Finding My Feet

Photo: It is slack-jaw gorgeous here in MetroWest right now. Peak color, active falling of leaves, a gentle breeze to keep things in motion. The eye doesn’t know where to focus, because everything is too beautiful for words. Sunny day or gray like yesterday, it doesn’t matter. It’s undeniably beautiful.


I am a little amazed by what I’ve managed to accomplish. That’s not me trying to brag. Actually, that’s me feeling a little bit ashamed of myself. The drumbeat of home is steady, with the boys needing a lot at any given moment and the schedule always very full and very tight. There are things that have to happen. I feel like I’m hearing a voice that says constantly, “you just can’t stop. You don’t have time to stop.” And it’s true: there is always a new thing to take up, something dropped that must be picked up right now. I’ve received plenty of advice: “You don’t have to do everything. You can say ‘no’ to things.” Yet, that feels very untrue. I made commitments before everything went up in the air, and now they are all coming up due. I signed up to be Classroom Mom for Major’s class and the Halloween party is in two weeks. I was asked to help with church stewardship again this year, so I helped re-write the brochure and letter to the congregation. I have three freelance clients who politely let me disappear for a week, but now the deadlines are looming…

And yeah, I’m getting it all done. I don’t really have a choice. I don’t want to disappoint and, besides, I want to be busy. Maybe not this busy, but it’s a wonderful distraction. Hello Denial Stage of grieving. I know I’m just running away from it. Grief is still with me.

I think the most surprising thing I’ve encountered so far is the physical pain of grieving. Last week, it was a two-day headache that I couldn’t shake. Over the weekend, it was a full-body ache that wouldn’t let me be comfortable during the long ride back here. Today, it’s sciatic pain that rivals that of  my pregnancies. The pain in my lower back is incredible, and it shoots up and down my left leg in a way it has never done before.

There is no running, no hiding. There is pain, and you have to deal with it.

But I’ve got things to do.

So, that is where the shame comes in: I’m sitting here with a full understanding of what’s going on, yet I am foolishly ignoring it instead of dealing with it. The shame comes from knowing that I’m not heeding the advice of everyone who has lovingly given it to me, each of them telling me to take it easy, let this first week come and go. Surely I should know better than to not listen to everybody. Then again, there is this sense of anger: what the hell else am I supposed to do? Maybe if I didn’t have two boys, I could curl up in a ball and let the world pass by me for a few days. But they are counting on me to get up every single day, to be at my best. To be better than my best.

We were just starting to find some sort of routine with this crazy new school year. I was taking on new things because I had a handle on the new schedule I knew what I was capable of producing in a day. I was starting to find the necessary life-hacks and strategies necessary to get ahead. It’s frustrating to be back at square one.

I am reminded that Square One is, essentially, tabula rosa. There are opportunities here to seize moments and climb out of this. It’s hard, but I’m trying to grasp for the moments of inspiration and strength, climbing out of this hole and into a better place. Maybe my goal for the week should have simply been survival rather than seeking a “new normal.” Maybe I was a fool for thinking I could control what a “new normal” can look like. I don’t know what else to do, Dear Reader. I don’t know what approach I should take other than the one I am.

And so, it’s a warm Wednesday night, I’m exhausted and in pain. Despite my efforts, my task list doesn’t feel any shorter, and a new day comes before I know it. I’ll greet it as best I can, optimistic that I’ll accomplish something and find my feet again soon.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.




Bring Life Along With You

Photo: We brought the bikes to Maryland with us, because I knew the weather would be nice and the boys would get stir-crazy if they were stuck in Mom’s house the whole time we were there. Of course, they needed to get out and ride just as soon as they arrived (only children are up for activity after a 10-hour car ride). When I went outside to check in on them, the first thing that I noticed was the bright and beautiful moon (I’m always looking for it). Major stopped to see what I was looking up at. He pointed, smiling. “Oh! I see the moon! It’s glorious!” And I just had to marvel…at it, at him and his vocabulary. All doubt fell away in that moment. Bringing the boys was a great idea.


If I learned one lesson last week, it’s this: In the face of Death, bring Life with you. Pack it and all of its accessories. Hold on tightly to it when you have to stand toe-to-toe with Death. Marvel at it and wonder about it during the quiet moments after Death is gone.

We stood in our kitchen as Husband and Wife, Father and Mother, considering and reconsidering if and how to bring the boys to Maryland, if and how they should attend the funeral services. Were they too young? Would they understand? Would they be frightened? Saddened? Would they be a distraction? Would they be disrespectful or disruptive? Would I be able to mourn and mother at the same time? Not to mention fulfill my duties as eldest daughter, middle granddaughter? There are things to do when Death comes. Children aren’t really a part of those things.

What I learned last week is that children aren’t part of those things, it’s true. But what they are is a beautiful, almost luxurious, distraction. Their laughter, their tears, their fights, even… in the face of death, children are brilliant, bright, glorious life. Their requirements are many, their needs are immediate, their wants and whims sort of change the air in a room. While on a normal day, their chaos can be stressful, even infuriating (and, I should probably state that this was still the case sometimes), the state of mourning changes things…colors and shades things… softens things…

So there was laughter last week. Joyful moments. There were fights over toys, wrestling matches in the foyer. There were memories resulting in cackles. There were silent moments of awe.

And there were tears. Many, many tears.

I walked into my family’s church last week for the first time in nearly a decade. My great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunt and uncle were married in that church. I was baptized in it. I spent many an Easter Sunday and a vacation bible school week in the building. It still smells the same, though it is much smaller than I remember it. Still hot… always hot! But they still have awesome fans.

The first thing I did when I walked through the tall wooden doors to attend my grandmother’s wake was look to my right. My grandmother was an usher at that church for many, many years. She’d stand right at the doorway in a crisp white dress, white gloves and a sash.

They still wear those proud white gloves. Of course, Grandy was in a different spot.

Her funeral was well attended. It felt like the whole entire town was there. We sat with the boys in the second pew and brought coloring books just in case they became fidgety.

They were wonderful. Major, emotionally intelligent and of an age to begin to understand, was sincerely sad but also paid close attention. He commented the music was too loud. United Methodists enjoy a…different sort of service than Episcopalians do. Minor was content to be in my lap, but he was also squirmy and needy. I kept setting him down, he kept crawling back on. It was fine. They were fine. I’m glad they were there. I went to the graveyard without them, sending The Husband back to Mom’s with the boys. Allowing me my final goodbyes without anyone else to think about.

I think what I’ll remember most is the drive away from the graveyard. The casket, closed and covered with flowers, was alone and suspended above its final destination. It was striking, as it felt so lonely. Grandy was rarely alone. From the time she was born until the time she died, she was always with someone–there was always someone to care for (she had a little brother, 4 children, and was a teaching assistant for 30 years) or, eventually, there was always someone caring for her (my uncle lived with her up until the end). She held court in her living room every single day, enjoying the idle gossip of town, until she went to the hospital. I’m told she held court there, too, and was very popular with the nurses. She passed away surrounded by her children. So, to leave her there… everyone gone, just her and the stones… there was a silence and loneliness that is burned into my mind. We had to leave her there, to rest next to her late husband, her late mother, her late father…

and we’re left, to keep living, to keep her legacy alive.

I found myself listless and useless yesterday afternoon. 3pm came and went without a call, without any sort of industry or purpose. My body aches for no reason. My hair feels dry, my scalp and skin itchy. I’m sleeping fitfully, yet deeply, waking up with sudden jolts at random times. I had a really hard time getting up this morning. The boys woke up excited to go back to school, but this afternoon they are grumpy. Dinner is in the oven, but it’s passionless.

Normal will come. Every step I take will get me there. But the way forward feels cloudy, sometimes doubtful. Life is here, waiting, and I’m glad for it. But how to reach for it? How to seize it again? How to embrace it without tears? How to set new goals and strive for excellence without my favorite cheerleader?

And while I packed Life and took it with me, the truth is, life has been on hold for an entire week. Bills need to be paid. Projects need to be restarted. Meetings must be scheduled and/or attended. I’m actually overwhelmed by all that I have to do. And then there is this blog. Lord, how I didn’t intend to let it sit for a week without a post. I’m sorry, Dear Reader. I’ve never done that before!

I’m back, and I did miss you. I promise not to let this space become overly depressing. Then again, I admit that I’m overwhelmed and the life I lived two weeks ago is fundamentally different than the life I lived now. Not because there has been a large change with profound consequences. Actually, it’s the small and subtle changes that mean in a difference the way the sun rises and falls on my days. Sunday at 3 is no more. It was an anchor for my entire week. Now all of the things I used to do to make it happen are gone. It matters. I have to figure out what to do from here.

I promise that part of that will be to keep writing. Thank you for your patience with me, Dear Reader. I really, really appreciate it.

It’s Monday. The start of a new week with new opportunities. Let’s seize it together.

Until Wednesday, take care.


In the World to Come

Photo: Another photo from my “garden tour.” With the longer, cooler nights, the garden is transitioning. Some plants go “dormant” while others simply wither and return to the compost. It is an inevitable transition. The natural world brings poetry to life’s more solemn events.



My grandmother had a catastrophic setback sometime this morning. She passed away just as I was planting kisses on little boys’ foreheads and sending them to bed.

I wish I’d been able to say goodbye. I wanted to hold her hand, to give her a kiss, to feel the warmth passing through generations of skin and bone. I wanted to bear witness to the end of a wonderful life. To see her satisfied smile as she entered the Kingdom she always believed in. I wanted to know if Poppy or Nanny were waiting for her.

I feel a touch of embarrassment. I feel the urge to clean and feel sheepish about the state of the house. Surely she’ll come this way, I’ve thought. Surely she’ll come this way to check on us, to see the boys, to say goodbye. She, who always had a spotless house (I don’t think her floors ever lost that freshly-mopped shine), will tsk in my direction before being on her way.

And that’s when my heart breaks. Knowing she’ll pass this way, on her way. And will I know? Will she leave one last directive? Will she give me something to do this Sunday at 3? Will she tell me to stop yellin’ at my poor, sweet little boys? Let them be, they are just fine?

I hope that I’ll be able to hear her. I know I’ll feel her presence forever. But, one last time, I hope that I can hear her.

As you can imagine, it’s an intense time. Death comes with logistics. Mourning requires time and space. Function shifts to the basic. I’m not sure what my schedule will be next week. I will try to write at least one post. At least some Quiet Thoughts. And if I can write Quiet Thoughts for this Friday, I will. But if you return to this space and I haven’t posted, well… my apologies in advance. I’ll return soon, very soon.

Until next I see you, Dear Reader, choose love, choose kindness, choose to reach out your hand, choose to give a little of yourself, and take care.



Saying Goodbye, Walking Away

Photo: I can’t even believe that picture. I can’t even believe it!! Yes, I did take that picture. With my phone. Yes, that phone! The phone that usually takes blurry pictures!! This is one of those drop-the-mic kind of moments. How the hell will I ever take a better picture than this!? Also, big props to Marney Mae because I’m pretty sure that this beauty comes from one of the seeds she sent us!


No school today means two little boys are home all day and I could not be more thrilled. I’ve gotten more work done today than I have since school started! Little boys slept until 9:30, had a long and leisurely breakfast, played very nicely for about two hours and now we’re all outside enjoying the warm air and the unhurried schedule. Wow… what a difference a new schedule can make! Now I remember what it’s like to look forward to school holidays! Now, next week, they’ve got three days off, and I’m not delighted about that. But, actually, it might all work out in my favor because I will likely have to go home to Maryland next week.

My grandmother has been in the hospital since last Wednesday. There is no talk of her being able to go home. While her health isn’t deteriorating anymore, it does not seem to be improving. She is not eating, she is sleeping in fits, she is uncomfortable. All I can do is sit here and go about life, diligently preparing myself for having to go home and possibly say goodbye.

I’m not really sure how to deal with it yet. Matter of fact, I’ve been angry at myself for compartmentalizing it the way that I have. I have reached down and found the numbness, and that seems to work for me. I admit that a bit of alcohol over the weekend has helped with the gauzy non-feeling that I have. The news about my grandmother comes at the same time as another major shift in my life: I have decided to completely sever ties with my father.

Father sent me his obligatory annual text of “Happy Birthday, I love you” last week, and I decided that I’d call him instead of simply being satisfied with it. It was a phone call that featured laughter and pain, a normal thing. He didn’t ask about the boys. Talked about himself and his boys, mostly. He mentioned Christmas a few times. I didn’t think much of it. I felt pretty jazzed about the whole thing after I got off the phone. On Thursday morning, I get an email from him to me and my sister. The subject line: “I’d like to have you guys over for Christmas dinner.” The body: “Is that even possible?”

The answer was no. For many reasons.  Even when we were one big family, we have always spent Christmas with my mother’s side of the family. And as long as my grandmother is still alive, I’ll be with her. That’s just how it is. I offered that we create a new tradition, or pick back up the Christmas Eve lunch tradition we’d had before (he blew me off last year, as some may recall, for nothing more than “I just don’t feel like it this year.”).

The result was a series of emails so belligerent and ridiculous, first to me and then to my sister, that it was made perfectly clear to me that I’ve made a horrible mistake by thinking he could remain in my life. Outside of the pain upon pain he’s caused me for years, I now realize my obligation to keep my two sons completely away from him. This is no longer healthy or acceptable. It never was, really. My sister and I talked for a long, long time on Friday, after another set of emails just a vile as the night before. I’m not sure if she has completely come to the same conclusion I have. She processes differently than I do. I think, though, that she’s going to arrive at the same place I’m in right now.

and so… here I am… Saying goodbye to my grandmother, a beloved mentor and friend, and also walking away from my Father.

So imagine all of that, but then having to get up and look good for church and shake hands and smile and be. And wake up this morning to take care of the children on their day off, offering this, patiently dealing with that, somehow managing to get the systems that keep this house in order working. There is work to be done. Freelancing work, fiction work. #DVPit is on Thursday and I’d really, really like to pitch Meadowlark to agents. Thanks to that editor I hired last month, I have two clean manuscripts that I think are ready to go somewhere. I’m doing my best to follow the advice of a friend and not just throw them up on some self-publishing site. I worked on my pitches a bit this morning. Lord, I hope I can draft a query letter during school time tomorrow.

I happily waved to my neighbor who is mowing his lawn. I’ll give hearty good mornings to the teachers and parents at school drop-off tomorrow. Matter of fact, there is freshly made apple butter from Friday’s field trip in jars ready to be delivered to school while butter and eggs are on the counter warming up for brioche. Two loaves of brioche need to be baked tomorrow morning so that a little boy can take a treat to school for his classmates.

This is how the world functions. You just never know what is happening behind the smile, the small talk, the fleeting moments of interaction with the people around you. So make haste to be kind, be quick to do a loving act. Ease the pains of this crazy world with just a little bit of care. You never know, Dear Reader, how much your little act can do.

It is Monday, and there is so much to do. Stay focused, stay motivated, and we’ll all make it to Friday together.

Until Wednesday, take care.





[Quiet Thoughts] Mommy’s Book of Morals

Photo: Major’s first elementary school field trip ever was, of course, to an apple orchard. There is nothing more New England than an orchard and, I must say, this is probably my favorite orchard ever. Not wanting to show other people’s children on the interwebs, this is the only one I can show from my chaperoning.


Major lied to me this week.

It was a little lie, a silly one. Evidence of his marvelous brain working, him flexing his muscles of language and persuasion. Lying has only recently emerged–it was going to happen eventually, so I’m not terribly surprised. Yet, here I was with no time yesterday morning, having to face my 5-year-old, his lie, and all the consequences.

“Why is Mommy angry?” I asked my son. This is a question I ask often.

“Because I [did something I asked him not to, resulting in a mess and a significant delay in our morning routine]?”

I did a nodding-shake of my head. That yes/no shake. “Yes, that’s true. I’m angry about that. But why else am I angry?”

“Because I didn’t tell you the truth.”

“And did you know you weren’t telling me the truth?”


“You have to understand that this was a silly lie. It was pretty obvious what was going on. But you still wasted 10 minutes of my time telling me that silly story. It’s a big waste.”

I have to give him credit: he was wide-eyed, laser focused. He was yawning, as it was morning and we’d had a late night, but he was with me.

“It’s important that you understand that you are a big boy and I expect a lot out of you. Big Boys tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Big Boys tell the truth, even when they think Mommy is going to be angry.”

And my Quiet Thoughts this week come from that moment. At what point do we become the arbiters of the Big Book of Morals? How do we, somehow, end up saying the same things our parents said to us to our own children? I could hear my mother’s voice, see her face, as I was saying the words.

“You have to tell the truth, even when it hurts. You have to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking,” I said. “You have to choose the right thing, even when it’s not easy.”

He listened, nodded his head. I asked him to repeat what I told him, and he did so dutifully. These are lessons that will need to be taught over and over again, expanded and refined as he grows older. They are rules that I understand aren’t hard and fast, but he can’t know that yet. (I’m a fool. He already has an idea that breaking them without ending the world is possible.)

Truth be told, my Quiet Thoughts come from my guilt about it afterward. Long after I dropped him off for school and went on about my insane day, I wondered if I’d been too hard on him. I wondered if I was being too old-school, too strict. Who am I to be dictating such edicts and dictums? I break rules all the time! Often with a smile!

There is also an understanding that a new chapter in parenting is beginning for us. My role shifts and changes as his needs do. Here I am, teaching again, but these lessons are forever. Am I really the right person to teach these lessons? I know that I have to be, but that doesn’t mean that I am. Time will tell. You never stop wondering if you are royally screwing this up.

The heat is on in the farmhouse tonight. The Husband made it so. I was holding out until October 1st, but he caved last night when it got down to 62 in the living room. We could have snuggled! Whatever. I’m grateful for oil in tank, cider donuts in the kitchen, the opportunity to sleep in and then catch up. Drought-cutting rain is supposed to fall this weekend. A blessing… even if our garden is already on its way out. The best part of all? there are many apples in the house! Over a half-bushel! So, I must make apple butter this weekend. This house is going to smell awesome. I can’t wait to fill up a few little jars and send them off to dear friends.

I send to you, on this last Friday of September, a little bit of warmth, a little bit of light. Dear Reader, this world feels deeply dark, sometimes intensely scary, and  very often isolating and uncaring. So I wish you an outstretched hand, a welcoming smile, a warm moment with another person who sincerely cares about you. I wish you food that feeds your body well, preferably with all these wonderful foods from the harvest–tomato, leek, potato, fennel, beets. I hope that food feeds your soul, too, bringing you memories of happy times in happy places. I wish you moments alone with your thoughts and your desires, a time to reconnect with what you want and how you want to achieve it. I wish you moments of laughter with favorite people. I wish you two kisses on the cheek and a tight squeeze of a hug, someone looking into your eyes and seeing far beyond the shield you put up for yourself. When was the last time someone saw you, fully? When was the last time you took a moment to see a friend?

Above all, I want you to remember how loved and admired you are. Remember how much your story means to the people who care about you. Remember that who you are and what you do has consequence in this world. Choose to be kind, choose to reach out, and always know that what you put out into the world will come back to you twice fold.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, be bold, love fearlessly, take a positive risk, roar with laughter, and take care.


Kindergarten Diffusion

Photo: Whoops! I haven’t taken any pictures this week! So, here! Have another of the awesome fire pit. To be clear, the fire pit is so awesome that it deserves another appearance on the blog. But still… I should probably take some pictures between now and Quiet Thoughts.


There were many lovely things about my birthday yesterday (THANK YOU to all who sent me birthday wishes!). My husband gave me a beautiful new necklace and a pretty matching bracelet. My youngest went to school until 2 yesterday. I got to go have a delicious sushi lunch with a fantastic friend. I fielded calls from Maryland, always a wonderful thing.

But then the afternoon came, and stuff sorta unraveled. First, I opted to call my Father instead of leaving well enough alone and accepting his annual “happy birthday” text. Second, my eldest came home after another great day at kindergarten and introduced a new idea into the household.

“Wanna see what I made?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen. I was elbow deep in lasagna construction (wondering who the hell makes herself lasagna on her birthday? Seriously? Awful idea. Delicious, but exhausting).

This is not a new thing to do. Usually, boys build with legos in the playroom and then come into the kitchen at regular intervals to present their creations for my praise. I went with the script: “Why yes, I would like to see.”

Major presents a long stack of blue and yellow megablocks constructed in haphazard pattern. One block on the end was skewed slightly off so as to be a handle. “I made a gun!”

What the fuck? Where the hell did you learn that?

(I did not say these things out loud.)

“Oh, um…” I stammered. Minor came in right after him, looking at Major’s creation with the eyes wide with awe. Big Brother has created a new sort of thing. I could just see him concocting his own way of making one.

This is the second time in as many weeks that Major has come into the house with something he learned on the playground that I’m not terribly thrilled about. Some kid at school loves to use the word “freaking” the way that we adults use “freaking” (The exact line that Major is parroting is “I can’t see the freaking numbers!”), and I’m not delighted by it. I’ve told him multiple times to stop saying it. “If you don’t know what it means, there is no reason to walk around saying that,” has been the parental line. It’s only moderately effective at the moment.

But this?

“Mommy doesn’t really like that, [Major]. Mommy doesn’t think that guns are toys. Mommy thinks that life is precious, and life has value. Guns aren’t about that at all. So we aren’t going to play gun here.”

Major, of course, needed to ask his requisite “why?”

“Because, baby, guns aren’t toys. They are very powerful and they are very dangerous. They hurt people and they kill people. They serious, very serious things. Where did you learn  to play guns?”

Turns out, he learned it from the same kid who says “freaking” the way adults say “freaking.” This is his new chief playmate. Fantastic.

“We were playing soldiers. I asked if I could play and [Freaking Kid] said I could, and I thought that was nice.”

“Well, sweetie, that’s just not how we play, ok? This isn’t how we play. I’ll explain a lot more when you are older but, for right now, you need to understand that guns aren’t toys. Guns aren’t games.”

Now, look… I’m not as anti-gun as you think I am (or may want me to be). My father owned guns, so did my husband. I’ve been to a shooting range and fired a weapon before. There is nothing more terrifying and humbling to me than to know that I can pick up a firearm, point, shoot and hit my target. I want my boys to feel the weight of responsibility when it comes to guns. I want my boys to know how to be safe around guns, to respect and fear guns, and never ever to see guns as toys. I want all the gun safety without any of the gun culture.

And, frankly, this is something I thought I could address when the boys are older. There is nothing in anything that they watch or read or love that involves guns. It’s developmentally inappropriate for 4- and 5-year-olds. And yeah, I actually do think that there is a difference between swords/shields/lightsabers and guns. There is a thin line between fantasy play and real-world stuff, but it’s still a line, and that delineation is important.

“This isn’t one of those things where you guys get to keep pushing and poking at the line until you figure out what does and doesn’t make Mommy. Leave this one alone, do you understand me? We will teach you about this when you are older, but now is not the time and I am very serious when I tell you that we aren’t fighting about this. Do you understand me?”

Both boys nodded their heads. I don’t know how seriously they are taking me. I know it didn’t come up for the rest of the night.

Recounting the story to The Husband, I huffed, “Damn, this makes me want to homeschool them. I mean, for the love of God!”

“No, you don’t. You know you don’t.”

I don’t. Diffusion of new ideas and the expansion of boundaries is one of the chief reasons why school is important. It’s a good thing for Major to be exposed to what the rest of the world has to offer, bring those ideas home, and then have to evaluate the values of his family versus the values of the rest of the world. I recognize that there will be times when he will break with us. I look forward to the times when he challenges us and we get the chance to evaluate together. But, for now, I am enjoying my waning reign of absolute authority and unopposed arbitration over what’s right and what’s wrong in his world.

Kindergarten, man… full of all sorts of things I wasn’t anticipating!

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.