Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Telling Your Kids that the World Can Suck-Thoughts on Boston

I rarely have the television on when the kids are home, and for good reason.  At 5:30, I was blissfully living inside my temporary domestic bubble.  My husband wasn’t travelling and thus, able to take our son to karate, leaving me an hour of luxury to actually make dinner, as opposed to slapping something together.  As I stood in the kitchen, chopping onions, relishing the quiet as my daughter studied nearby, and looking out the window at the tree coming to life with its yellow pom- pom blossoms, I actually felt, peaceful.  I didn’t need to rush anywhere, no one was asking me for anything, and I was totally engaged in my task. I even think I was humming.  Very- rare- indeed.

The telephone pierced my silence. I almost didn’t pick it up because my hands were a little wet from the onion. Of course, I was out of paper towels, even though I had just gone to supermarket on a $300 run, but forgot the one item that propelled me to go in the first place. Now, my bliss turns to annoyance. My hands have onion slime on them and I see on the caller ID that it’s my mom.  If I don’t answer, Iknow she will call again, and probably at an even more inopportune time.  I grab a bunch of tissues and pick up the phone with a thin film of Kleenex stuck between my fingers.
                “Hey Mom, what’s up?"
                “Nothing much, where’s Larry this week?”
                “Um, at Karate? Why so interested in his travel schedule?” 
I am a little suspicious. Normally, I don’t get calls from my mother in the early evening.  Her phone call M.O. is usually slated for the a.m. where I automatically think someone has died, (yes, I have turned into my mother) or later in the evening when I am trying to maneuver post homework metltdowns, bedtime skirmishes, or shower debacles.  So, 5:30 was not a routine phone calls.

                “I just wanted to know if he was home.  Doesn’t he usually travel a    lot to Boston?”

                “Mom (I hear the irritation in my voice) what’s wrong?”
                “ Did you hear what happened at the Boston Marathon today?”
                “No, I haven’t had the news on all day, especially in the afternoon when the kids are home.”
“Oh, well, two explosions went off at the finish line, there were a lot injured people and two were killed.”
I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.  I was still reeling from Sandy Hook, eventhough that wasn’t even an act of terrorism, just some crazy, misunderstood lunatic who decided to take the lives of innocent babies. My heart still hurt.  I was having trouble processing.  Wasn’t I just humming while admiring the blooming tree outside?  Innocence was shattered again, as I exclaimed, “Oh my God,” over the phone, unbeknownst that my 12 year old was sitting at the table.
After I hung up the phone, it was hard to return to my regularly scheduled life. I wanted to turn on the TV, but I didnt.  My daughter wanted to know what was wrong, and I suppose I had to tell her. She’s not a baby anymore, they will most likely discuss  it at school. I picked up my iphone to try to make sense of such a senseless act.  Since it had only occurred a mere two hours ago, there was only limited information. 
“Mom, I know something is wrong, what is it?”  So, I told her and I was angry that I had to tell my kid about how much the world can suck. 
My husband and I decided not to tell the eight- year old. What’s the point? We sat him down after Sandy Hook and gave him a very brief explanation, careful not to make it too scary, mindful about emphasizing that he was safe.  We decided to do this because we were so convinced that someone in school would say something, and he wouldn’t be prepared.  Yet, no one said anything, so why not delay the ugliness that will destroy his innocence again? Why can’t we just let him have a childhood where he oesn’t have to worry about crazed gunmen, or terrorists?  The truth is, we can’t, because unfortunately this is our new reality.
I still mourn for those in the Twin Towers, and Sandy Hook, and yesterday’s calamity, and I carry it around my heart like a giant, dead weight.  I wonder how different life will be for my kids when they are my age. What will befall our country that they will have to explain it to their kids, if they even decide to have them because the world is even more crazed by then?  I wouldn’t blame them, though there goes my anticipated golden grandmother years. 
I felt guilty for enjoying the mundane only moments before.  I stood in the kitchen, motionless, staring into space, when the front door opened and the sound of my eight- year old’s laughter jolted me back to the world of the living.

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