Thursday, April 18, 2013


I have been felled by some sort of stomach virus flu-like bubonic plague thing. It started Tuesday night while I waited for JP to get home from the swim school. He was 30 minutes late and those 30 minutes were some of the longest of my life. Yesterday was very bad. I will spare you details, but I kept absolutely nothing in my body long enough for it to be digested which meant that the nausea that is always present, that spikes when I go more than 60 minutes without eating a carb of some sort, was very very bad, adding an extra element of fun along with the gurgling, furious intestines I was already dealing with. Holy mother it was a bad day. I couldn't even keep water down. JP still had to go coach, the logistics of canceling or rescheduling over a dozen lessons causing me to push him out the door with false reassurances that I'd be fine, so I had to pick up the kids. I waited until the last possible minute, dragging myself out of bed to throw on jeans and a non-sweaty t-shirt (apparently my fever broke during my afternoon fever-dream filled nap) and getting them about 2 minutes before daycare closed and trying not to feel guilty for it. When we got home, I walked in the side door and I kept on walking- through the family room to turn cartoons on the TV and into my room where I collapsed back on the bed. Claire was deeply concerned about me, she kept coming over to pat my face and kiss my tummy all better. Landon was just thrilled to get to watch TV during the day, on a school day. I'm not sure that's ever happened in his young life and he wasn't asking questions.

JP got home an hour later and deftly made dinner, cleaned lunch boxes, cleaned up dinner, folded laundry, supervised the kids putting away their folded laundry, supervised bath time, read books, and sent my two sparkling clean pj-clad children in to bid me goodnight. I think our interchangeability on child-care and home-care duties is perhaps the single greatest attribute of our marriage. A lot of love and a lot of avoidance of possible stress and unhappiness (and a surfeit of passion because we don't have to be stressed or yell-y) comes from the single fact that when it comes to our kids and running the house, we're two equal players in a system that functions the same regardless of who is having to do more at any one time. And that is never more clear than when one of us is traveling (usually me) or when one of us is sick (luckily, a rarity for both of us).

Today appears to be going a little better. I've kept down the whole half a bagel I ate in minuscule bites over the last hour. It's not enough to keep the nausea away, but at least it's some calories. And the frustration of being home but utterly unable to do anything productive (like find my maternity clothes and reorganize my closet) or even handle watching the Food Network, usually my favorite TV distraction, is starting to build. And if I can spare the brain matter to be annoyed about that, I think it means my odds of being able to eat some lunch are improving.


In far rougher news, the horrific Boston Marathon bombing brought the too-many-eth time I've cried at my desk at work, compulsively refreshing news articles to learn more about something I'm horrified to learn more about. As tragedies like this keep happening, JP and I have learned that we have to wait to talk about them until after the kids go to bed. It used to be that we could talk about anything over their heads at dinner, but Landon is increasingly aware and curious of everything we're saying and Claire has tuned in to our conversations at a far earlier age than Landon ever did. And so we waited and once the kids were down we shared stories we'd read of the heroism of the people who'd immediately run to help the fallen and talked about what we'd do (or what we hoped we'd do) in a similar situation. I remember telling JP that I was glad our kids were still too young to have much of an idea of what was going on in the world, so we could keep them innocent of all of these things (and avoid some really hard questions) a little while longer.

And then, on Tuesday I picked Landon up from school and the first thing out of his mouth was, "Mom there was a marathon where people go running and a bad guy made a bomb go off and people DIED." Oh. Apparently one of the girls in his class, who JP already dislikes due to her constant proselytizing and telling Landon that lots of people are going to hell to be on fire forever (we had to have a talk with his teacher and the director after that one), has parents who either ignore her presence when talking about grown-up things or purposefully show her things a 4-year-old shouldn't be seeing. Because she also gave Landon a detailed account of the video of the bombings and how "one person's skin was on fire and fell off his bones." Needless to say I am pissed at her parents. It's one thing to know what happened, that can be hard to avoid and I have no problem talking to Landon about it if needed. But the video? Really? How is that possibly appropriate for a 4-year-old?

Anyway, we spent a good 3 hours discussing the bombings on and off for the rest of the evening. As always, I'm so glad I have time to do that, that I can pick him up and face those questions first, particularly given some egregiously false information he was fed from his classmate. But it was hard. Hard to figure out what to say, how to say it, how to give enough information to answer the question and stem an imagination eager to fill the void in knowledge, and avoid giving more than he needed to know. It was a meandering conversation, interspersed with contemplative silence and the regular goings on of his day at school. We seemed to cover the basic facts, the origination of good and evil, and the mechanics of hand-cuffs before he was satisfied.

"How did the people die?"
"They were just too hurt to fix, but most of the people who were hurt are going to be okay. There were lots of very good people who helped them."
"Like who helped them?"
"Doctors and nurses and police men and regular people who were there and wanted to help."
"And vets?"
"Um, maybe a vet."
"Did they catch the bad guy?"
"Not yet, but they will."
"I don't know exactly, but police are very smart and there are lots of them working together to do it."
"But how will they keep him with them?"
"They have handcuffs to tie his hands together so he can't run away."
"But he can run away with his feet!"
"I'm sure they'll bind those too." (Avoiding a discussion of non-fatal gun shot wounds and tasers.)
"But mom, he has bombs! He can just throw them at the police."
"Well, that isn't really how bombs work, and the police will be very careful."
"Wel... he could be in a cave."
"He could be, but the police can find people in caves"
"Why are there bad guys?"
"I don't know honey, but I know there are lots lots more good guys than bad."
"Where do bad guys come from?"
"Well, I'm not sure what makes someone do bad things, honey."
"No, are they born?"
"Yes, they're born, just like all people."
"Do they have capes?"

He seemed to have it all settled in his head by Wednesday morning and hasn't had any other questions. I handled it as best I could with Claire listening with rapt attention. It's hard. These events are hard enough for me to process on my own as an adult, they're harder to translate for a child, and the whole afternoon was a reminder that while babies present their own difficulties, big kids are harder. And Landon and I (and JP) are figuring it all out as we go.


  1. Yeah . . . how do you make them not afraid all the time? Mine hasn't asked about this yet, but when he does - how do I explain that he is safe? (Let's not focus to deeply on the fact that he is NOT, that he is, essentially, unprotectable.)

    Rough, as you said. Hope you get to feeling better.

    1. I was dreading questions along those lines- is he safe? can this happen here? Because I didn't want to lie, but there's also no way I'm telling him that he isn't safe. As it turns out, he never asked about it, and I genuinely think it wasn't something he was concerned about. It happened at this place with the marathon that is far away from Texas. And while he was worried about the people, and the police trying to catch the bad guy, he wasn't worried about himself. I just don't think he's extrapolated it that far.

      I've found that's frequently true in talking to him about hard things. The natural things my adult brain worries about, he doesn't think of at all; instead, he wants to know if the bad guys all wear capes.

      But it will come and I guess we'll figure out what to say then.

    2. How far is the Waco factory explosion from you?

    3. A little over 60 miles. We have friends who live further outside Fort Worth who felt their windows shake when it happened. It's just awful isn't it? The stories and pictures keep getting worse.

  2. Yes it's scary. The number of fatalities is even higher than the Boston bombings :(

  3. We're on spring break in Massachusetts. We had a little boy come for a play date with my youngest on Wed. His mom had run the marathon and finished well ahead of the time of the bombings. His father, 2 siblings and he were on Mile 17 in Newton and headed back home after waving to her. He brought up the subject (thankfully, we had already said something general and age appropriate for our 7 year old daughter) and I thought I would just about break down in tears as he spoke. I acknowledged the topic, suggested his parents may have certain rules for discussing it, redirected the conversation and engaged them in an activity. It is a terrible thing to have to explain bad things to children. You did great. Terrible thing in TX. It's too much this week.

  4. Hope you feel better soon. And great job, talking with Landon so smartly about the scary stuff. My 8-y-o was interested in watching the news with us, and we let him a little bit. First time we've done that. He had a few questions, but not many. We asked if he was scared about it and he said no. Just curious. I guess I can't shelter him forever from how the world is.

  5. We need to talk to K about it this weekend before we go home, because he's certainly going to hear about it in school on Monday -- the manhunt happened blocks away from our house. He already heard about the bombing somehow and asked if our house was still there.

  6. My oldest was 11 on September 11. We didn't keep the TV on much, and didn't talk much about it in front of them. I congratulated myself on how they hadn't been affected much. And then a month later, they were playing with blocks and building tall buildings, and flying airplanes into them, saying, "There went the north tower!" It struck me then that they always will hear about it, and this is a part of their world now. I hate that.

  7. Your practicalities of being a mom truly inspire me. My little guy is still too little (not quite 2) and I am just learning how to explain stuff. Thank you for writing. You change my little world with every post.

  8. Landon had a clairvoyant moment about the bad guys throwing bombs at the police...

  9. Unbelievable that anyone would let their 4-year-old know so much/see so much. How awful for the other kids. It sounds like you did a great job with it, though.