Tuesday, February 18, 2014

under a rock

I shelter my children under a rock. But that rock is getting too small. They barely fit under it. Sometimes life splashes on them. Sometimes life rains on them.

It could be that the rock is the same size, but my children are bigger. But they're not that big!

I am happy to have been raised naive. I had plenty of time to learn about The Real World as I became an adult.  I want the same sheltered life for my own kids.

I received a text from Pook today, just as school was getting out:

Maybe I over-reacted.

First of all, I saw 'lockdown' and 'gun' and totally missed that it was the high school, not his school. Second, I heard quite soon that it was a suspended student with a 'cache' of guns who had hidden them under the bleachers with intent to sell them. (He had two loaded guns on his person.) Third, by the time I heard about it, the kid was already in custody.

Over-reacted. Under-reacted. Reacted.  I don't want that to be the issue. How I act when there is a gun near my child's school is not the point. The point is that I have to react at all.

At dinner I asked Pook how he felt about it. He barely understood why I'd ask. "It was just a lockdown. Nothing happened."

I grew up knowing fire drills and tornado drills. We did not have lockdown drills.

I hear about a school shooting and I turn away. I don't turn on news on those days. I don't want to know anything more than "It wasn't here." I know the issue, I have strong anti-gun feelings, and knowing the sordid details just upsets me.

We never watch TV news anyway, so that isn't a concern. But sometimes I listen to news on public radio while I cook.  We almost always listen in the morning. There are times that either CD or I have shut off the radio when something dreadful has happened and we don't want to get into a discussion with the kids about it.  I had no intention of telling them about the Newtown, CT incident until our church said that they would "help children process recent events" and I decided it was better that they not find out in a group setting.

His principal wrote, after a different gun event in Atlanta, "the real things that matter are you and your family. Are they safe? Are they happy? Are they healthy? If you can answer "yes" to those three questions, then all is right with your world, and all the other problems of life will work themselves out. Slow down. Count your blessings. Be thankful. Be in the moment and breathe. Make it a great day or not. The choice is always yours."

Yes, I get it. But I don't want to have to get it. I don't want to have to count my blessings when not every parent can easily do so. I want for it to just. not. happen.

Another blogger I follow said, ages ago, after yet another tragedy, "I wish I could send my kids to school wearing a button that says, 'No, I don't know. Please don't tell me.' Maybe it's pure wishful thinking that I can keep them naive even a few days longer. A single day. An hour."


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


This has been a really tough winter already. Right now, Atlanta is under a Severe Winter Storm Warning. But, if I look carefully, there are signs of life in my gardens. There may also be some significant deaths, but we'll have to wait and see.

One morning last week, I came downstairs and peeked out the window into the front yard. This is what I love most about living in Georgia. (above, last week; below, this week)

Our groundhog (Beauregard Lee) expects us to see spring within six weeks. We always do. We see glimmers every February and I begin to breathe again.

I set out to look for more signs of optimism in my garden.

There are always the winter bloomers to count on down here. The hellebores didn't miss a beat. I will continue to spread them around until I can see them from every window.

And, Daphne. Wonderful, temperamental, fragile, fabulous Winter Daphne. If she can get just a few more days of sunshine, the whole neighborhood will smell her sweet scent.

Flowering Quince is another of my cold weather saviors. It will pop out first of all the spring bloomers. I'll know we're safe from the threat of an eternal winter if the Quince blooms.

So, while my grand plan to have fresh swiss chard has not come to pass, I'll cut some branches of Quince to bring inside to cheer me up and I'll try again next year.

swiss chard: not dead, but not happy

Monday, February 3, 2014


The time has flown. My little one! My baby! My Bug is a decade old. Double digits.

He pointed out to me, at my January birthday, that our whole family has significant 2014 birthdays: I am a prime number, his brother becomes a teen and his daddy turns fifty.

I would not have realized that I belonged in that crowd my dear. Thank you for including me. But I shouldn't be surprised. Even if I had been a totally nondescript age (was 46 less interesting?) you would have found a way to have included me. Because that is the way you are.

You already have the long, lanky limbs of a much older child. You like it when you're mistaken for a middle school peer (or twin!) of Pook. But you still fold up those long limbs to squeeze yourself into our laps. Anytime. After dinner laps, scary movie laps, nowhere-better-to-sit laps. I will cope with the numb legs for a while yet, because I don't know how long this will last. And then I will miss it.

You have so much to give. When your daddy and I were asked to describe you in one word, we chose "more." You've always been more, liked more, given more and needed more. Liking more action, more tickles and more spice to your food is fun, but you also have more worries, more emotions and more stress.  Giving 101% to everything can be exhausting, and sometimes you have a tough time shouldering it all. I want to be able to make it easier for you.  And so, whether you want it or not, I will always be nearby. Just in case.

Your energy draws people to you. So many people care about you.Your piano teacher adores you. (All your teachers adore you.) I'm so glad you talked us into letting you start piano so young. You were still four when we met her and convinced her to let you start lessons. You'd only been asking for two years. I'm waiting to see where you'll go with your new trombone. While I write this, I am listening to you play new piano music. No, you aren't required to learn it, but when it arrived in the mail you found you couldn't stop. For a while, sight reading fun music won over eating. That might be a first. You're pretty fond of eating.

Right now you're playing basketball for the winter and you'll join the swim team again for summer, but baseball is your passion. You even called yourself "Ball" when you began to talk. Pook loved it and gave you all the laughs you desired. You may take baseball seriously, but you take laughs any time you can get them. Your own laughs are so contagious! (Seriously, I should offer a prize to anyone who can watch this video snippet and not laugh aloud.)

I think I understand what they mean when they say that we are all ages at once. Just because you are turning ten does not mean that sometimes you aren't in need of the emotional support of a three year old and the time reading aloud with us like a five year old. And sometimes, you are so mature you are well beyond those ten years.You have been a challenge to me for all ten of these years. I can't rest on my laurels when you're around. But Bug, you make my life exciting.

I love you.  Happy Birthday.