when bad things happen….

How do you explain the unimaginable…to a child? There are things in this world that are very hard to make sense of for an adult, but when you add a curious child into the equation things just got complicated.  We spend so much time trying to shelter our young children from anything and everything that could be upsetting to them. It is hard to know when it is okay to introduce the idea that life isn’t always going to be perfect.  There are things that happen every day that can’t be explained.  Like when a 2 year old gets diagnosed with leukemia, like when a young pawpaw is taken before he can see his namesake grow up, like when an alcoholic decides to make himself at home–in our house!

And of course, those devastating events on Sept. 11, 2001.  It is hard to believe that it has already been 10 years since that terrorist attack.  But at the same time, it feels like yesterday that I was working at Bellarmine University, in my friend’s office when our work study came in and told us what was going on.  Time is funny like that….it felt like I was waiting for years to hear that my uncle was uncharacteristically late to work that morning causing him to be outside of the World Trade Center towers when the planes it.  In reality, we waited a few hours to hear about his glorious tardiness.

My oldest is almost 9yrs and always very curious (hmm…sounds like a Curious George book, doesn’t it??).  C is also a very thoughtful young man…he really takes things in and processes them.  We have had many late night talks because he can’t fall asleep since something is weighing on his mind.  I knew discussing 9/11 with him would be difficult. While I was thinking about it, “Salvation Song” by The Avett Brothers came on. Damn…their lyrics are just incredible.  I am pretty sure they have a song that would fit everything situation in life. Anyway….this song just struck me as the answer in helping my son process the bad things in life. Especially the chorus:

We came for salvation

We came for family

We came for all that’s good that’s how we’ll walk away

We came to break the bad

We came to cheer the sad

We came to leave behind the world a better way

We cannot change what other people’s choices, how they act or what they do.  We cannot control the health of our friends and family in certain circumstances. We can only take charge of what we do and how we act. It is our responsibility to take positive actions.  On this desperately sad and overwhelming anniversary weekend, I hope we can all keep in mind that there are things we can do in everyday life to ease someone else’s pain or just brighten their day.  And if we all did that, maybe we really could break the bad, cheer the sad and leave behind the world in a better way.

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Tonight’s the kinda night where everything could change

All summer I have been dodging requests from the foursome to go and watch a Louisville Bats game (AAA team for the Cincinnati Reds).  It isn’t that I don’t like baseball, because I do.  We are a total baseball family.  My parents have season tickets (3 row that is) for the Bats and have since the new stadium opened.  In fact, that first year, I don’t think my Dad missed a game. My Dad is kind of a baseball fanatic.  Growing up, our summer vacation always included a stop at a minor league ballpark.  I thought this was the norm…and now find myself thinking about doing the same thing with our kids.  He doesn’t just like watching the great American pastime…..he has also written about Babe Ruth and is an esteemed member of the Society for American Baseball Research. My older two play…one even made his all-start team.  So, we get and like baseball.

What I don’t get and don’t like is when we go to this beautiful park (it’s been called the best minor league park in the country) and I spend more time at the concession stand, the playground, the merry-go-round and the bathroom (hopefully not in that order!!).  That is not baseball.  That is not what I want to do when we go.  I want to actually see the game.  I want to see the big time pitcher on his way up to the majors who can throw over 100 mph.  I want to see the centerfielder make a diving catch to end the inning and stop the winning run.  Heck, I just want to know that the winning runner was on base!!!  Is that too much to ask? Well, apparently for the last nearly 9 years, the answer to that question was YES!  Expectations were wayyyyy off base.

That is until this past Labor Day Monday. We had a breakthrough.  It started off as a breakdown…as in the kids finally broke me down and got me to agree to attend the last home game of the season on that Monday afternoon.  Lucky for us, the temps dropped nearly 40 degrees from that Saturday and it was a chilly 65 out. Perfect if you ask me.  We got there just 5 minutes late and lasted the ENTIRE game, including running the bases afterwards (which equaled standing in the line of anxious and tired kids that wrapped half way around the park to make that quick run).  Not once did we stop at the playground nor the merry-go-round.  We did get one snack and one potty break which was fine with me because the snack included beers for hubby and I. Totally bonus. Beer and baseball…is this real life??

After this amazing afternoon, I realized that we are quickly moving from the insanity of having a baby (or 2) anchoring us and determining our every move to this new and uncharted territory of freedom.  If can call having four kids between the ages of 3.5-9yrs freedom.  I guess it is all relative, right?  The realization just hit me….and opened up so many more doors and possibilities.  What’s next?! A cross country trip? Maybe we should start with baby steps and see how a Bellarmine soccer game works out before we make our flight reservations.

This song by Noah and the Whale has been a favorite for a while (great cd, too)….and while some of you might think I am blowing one minor league baseball game out of proportion, I can’t help how I feel…

Tonight’s the kind of night
Where everything could change

It is okay or at least it will be

Is there anything harder than leaving your child, kicking and screaming at preschool for the first time?!  I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn’t.  The only difference in the first time and the fourth is that I am more prepared for what will happen…but that doesn’t make it hurt less.  It is so unnatural…we spend the first 3 or 4 years doing everything we can for our children…protecting them from the harsh realities of the world, trying to anticipate any hurts they may feel so we can quickly make it better, just being their comfort and support…and then we drop them off to a brand new, chaotic world filled with new rules and strange faces. Of course they are going to cry!!  Wouldn’t you? (I know there are kids who don’t cry and that is not a poor reflection on your parenting…just means that their personality is ready to take on the world and up for anything!!)

Make sure you feel totally comfortable with the school and educators.  Speaking from experience, if you know that you your teacher loves your child, then saying goodbye between gulps will be less painful since the trust is there. If  your gut is telling you something is amiss, then don’t ignore it!!! That is your parental instinct kicking in….it is like your superpower-use it!! Assuming all is good with the school, then it is time to let go and give your child a chance to grow socially and build confidence.

It is okay…to hug & kiss your child and tell them you will see them soon and walk away.  Quick goodbyes are better because it helps your child know the routine.  One hug, one kiss and Mom will be back soon. L likes to scream and cry, at least until I get down the hallway and then all is magically quiet. Just to play up that Mommy guilt! 😉

It is okay…to give your child a chance to learn how to comfort themselves when you aren’t around.  This is a big deal and something that will help them in the future.  If they need that special lovie in their backpack, then do it.

It is okay….to watch your child’s confidence grow.  They love bringing home their school work-to show you what they can do! They aren’t babies any more, they are big kids. We know what our children are capable of, but sometimes it takes an outside person to show us that we should expect more.  I never thought that L, at 3 yrs old, could spell his (short) name.  But guess who surprised Mama on his 2nd day of school!! And he was sooo proud of himself!!

Transitions are hard for kids, but sometimes they are harder for parents. We all want to raise successful adults (even though our measurements of success may vary) and we all know our children have special talents and strengths that they should share with the world. Pre-school (or even over night camp for the first time) is a stepping stone on that learning path for us and our children.

This song, “We Were Born” by Cloud Cult, is so beautiful and meaningful. It just seems like a good fit for this idea of letting our children go…just a little bit! So, a hug, a kiss, a be back soon and this on repeat.

These lyrics really stand out:

I don’t know where we come from, and I don’t know where we go.
But my arms were made to hold you, so I will never let you go.
Cuz you were born to change this life.
You were born to chase the light.
You were born…

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