My heart was broken last week + a rant

Some of you, maybe all of you, may know that I supervise lunch hour and afternoon recess at a couple of our local schools. At one school, I police kindergarten lunch hour and mediate sandpit disputes and check boo boos and administer band-aids and ‘side hugs’ as needed. Then the bell rings and I say a quick ‘have a good afternoon!’ to “my” kindies and rush off to my next school where I supervise afternoon recess in the yard. This is my second year doing this, so many of the students remember me from last year (and I remember them!) and that awkwardness is mostly gone when they approach me. For the most part, they all pretty much know what answer that they are going to get from me in most situations. And they know that I will march beside them and help them to figure out their disputes. And they know that if they’ve crossed the line or run out of chances, that I will send them to visit the office for further discussion.

But last week was different. There were no disputes to settle. There were no lines crossed. There was just a little boy, close to, if not actually, the same age as one of my boys. He has bright eyes, a wide smile and always looks just a little bit more mischievous than your average bear.  On this day he was sitting in the grass, on the edge of the sandpit playing with a few other boys and they found a chunk of asphalt in the grass and ran it over to me, excited to show me their discovery.

“Coal! We found coal! Lookit! Lookit! Missus!”
“Ah, guys” I said smiling at them “that’s not coal, it’s a lump of asphalt. Like the stuff the basketball courts are made of. A piece must have broken off some…” Most of the boys wandered off at this point.
“Court?!? My mom’s going to court today!” Exclaimed my cherub-faced friend
“Oh, is she a lawyer?” I half-asked and half-hoped.
“Nah. My dad’s in trouble,” he said, still sitting, legs splayed, on the grass and looking down and picking at his pant leg. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Oh. Parking ticket?” I replied, with concentrated effort to keep my voice light and smiley.
“Nah. He’s in trouble for breaking a window and running away from the police and then at the hospital…” He looked up at me and added “they done a divorce.”

*Cue shattering the of my heart.* I felt it in my chest, broken. I felt the tightening above my ribcage and understood why this little dude had so many ‘line crossing days’ last year. And I felt so angry for this little boy, who has been told too much and witnessed far too much and who, despite his assertions to the contrary, it’s not “okay.” And I could see in his face that he has no way of really making sense of what the hell the adults in his life are doing to him and to each other.

Lord, I’m old and I don’t understand what the hell the adults in his world are doing to him. Or why. Or how. Or if they even understand the pain they are inflicting on this perfect little human THEY chose to bring into THEIR family. And then chose to blow his world all to shit and expect him to deal.

He did not need to know that his dad broke a window. He did not need to know that his father was arrested. He did not need to know that his parents are in court again. But he knew. And somehow, he was still able to find his smile for me that day. And try to reassure me that it was “okay” and “no big deal” and that it was okay that he couldn’t see his dad right now because he could maybe probably be able to see him soon because of “the yellow house.” Which I can only assume is an access/visitation center.

And you know what? I GET it. You meet someone. You fall in love, like, lust or whatever and you have a baby, by design or circumstance. And then things just don’t work out. Maybe there are substance abuse issues, maybe there are maturity issues, maybe the romantic relationship was just never really meant to be. For whatever reason, “forever” didn’t last. But as soon as you have a baby, you are a family. FOREVER. And like it or not, you both have to figure out a way to make sure that your baby still gets to have his FAMILY. So, you put your shit aside (I don’t care if she cheated on you or he’s an asshole) and you make nice. You celebrate family events together because you are a family for as long as you have that child in common, you’re a family and you OWE it to your child to be an adult.

We should be teaching our children to be brave, not forcing them into it by making them deal with adult situations and emotions long before they're ready.

We should be teaching our children to be brave, but not by forcing them into it by making them deal with adult situations and emotions long before they’re ready.

And believe me, I am not casting stones. I am speaking from a place of hindsight being 20/20. My eldest son grew up without his father around for most of his life and for no other reason than his parental units were too young and immature to see the bigger picture and both thought that we each knew what was best for him. Neither of us realized or acknowledged our duty to act like and to BE a family, that even when angry with one another, that duty existed because we decided to bring another human being onto the planet.

Single parenting is hard. Co-parenting is hard. Parenting in any capacity is hard, and that is why I’m constantly striving to do parenting better and to NOT repeat past mistakes. Oh, and I am happy to report that my son now has a relationship with his father and his father and I are finally mature enough to be friends again but even if circumstances were different, and friendship was not realistic, I do believe that with maturity and this magical hindsight, that we would still now be able to be cordial with one another, if for no other reason than to align for the amazing human person in whom we share a common interest.

I guess after this post is written and all is said and done, my real message is simply:

Please let us stop breaking our children’s hearts. One ounce of kindness at a time.

*End rant*

Absolute truth. Do your best, always do that.

Absolute truth. Do your best, always do that.

You never realize how ignorant you are until you have kids

Sometimes I really wish I would have listened to and believed my parents when they told me (often) that no, I really did not yet have all of the answers. Right or wrong, I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly well-read, educated, informed and knowledgeable individual. That has changed. Now I have kids who talk and ask questions that make sense and think deeper thoughts than how to fit a spoon into their mouths sideways.

Case in point. Deacon and Mason were talking about Easter and chocolate bunnies and egg hunts and I interjected with “well, you know it’s actually a religious holiday and not about chocolate or bunnies at all, right?” That bit of trivia was met with skeptical stares and uncertain glances at one another. “Um, what does that mean?”

“Well, it’s a religious, um, certain religions observe Good Friday because, um, well yeah. Easter has to do with the resurrection of Jesus, and other important religious things. It’s religious. No bunnies.” (note to self: shut up, you sound like an idiot)
“Oh! Because the old people didn’t have bunnies or something?”
“What exactly is religion?”
Oh shit. This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to talk. Like ever. I always end up talking myself into situations that I really should be relying on a reference book or at least Google to get me out of but instead of deferring to one of those superior sources, I press on.

“No, honey. Because as society has changed, it has commercialized Easter into being about chocolate and egg hunts and bunnies, but in all actuality, we are supposed to be celebrating the resurrection of Christ. But I’m not sure of the whole story, because, well, I don’t remember it, and well, we’re not really religious, I guess.” (I would add that we are spiritual and do hold beliefs deeper than MTV but we have never actually adopted an organized way of expressing that spirituality or those beliefs)

“Oh. Well, they must have been sad not to get any Easter eggs and stuff.”

Then, I did something that it has taken me YEARS of parenting to do. I let the subject drop. First, because I did not want to ruin the Easter they know and love by beating them over the head about how commercial everything is these days and how we need to rise above that type of superficial existence (yes, I recognize that’s a bit heavy for an eight and ten-year-old) and second because I realized that I didn’t have a fast fuckin’ clue how to explain the meaning of Easter to them and that fact was a ginormous hit to my ‘big brain’ ego.

So now, I have homework. Self-imposed but not really. Because while I don’t feel like I need to pretend to have all the answers or know everything (anymore, don’t ask sixteen-year-old me how she feels about that!), I do feel very strongly that part of my job as a parent to these beautiful minions is to guide them, to help them discover what they believe in and why and to give them a sense of and reality of strong traditions that help root them, comfort them and give them strength when life or circumstances try to deplete their reserves. My homework is to make sure that I know and can explain why we are celebrating any given occasion and what it means to me, what it may mean to others (may or may not be the same thing), and find out what it means to my children. Opening up discussions, sharing ideas and thoughts, educating and discovering together, being mindful and purposeful in our traditions and consciously choosing to create and perpetuate those traditions. That is my homework.

This is one tradition that I bring from my childhood. Grandma's Crimple Top. It's like Apple Crisp or Crumble, but about eleventy-billion times more delicious.

But whatever else I discover while attending to my homework, this is one tradition that I bring forth from my childhood. My grandma’s Crimple Top. It’s like Apple Crisp or Crumble, but only about eleventy-billion times more delicious. And all of my kids, except for Paxton (who is a story unto himself) LOVE it!

And just because this weekend has been about family and family time, here is most of mine:

4 out of 5 captured today. Declan-san was working but one day soon I shall capture his image with his siblings once again. Heart = Happy

4 out of 5 captured today. Declan-san was working but one day soon I shall capture his image with his siblings once again. I love being a mom.
Heart = Happy

P.S. My proofreader/spell check only found one error in this post. I don’t trust that ratty old pecker but at the same time I want to believe that it is true and that no errors exist (big brain ego at work again) so in trusting the proofreader it necessarily follows that I must claim any and all spelling and grammatical errors as my own. It is only right. U no? 😳

P.P.S. I post a lot of nonsensical blithering on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog in those places as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can do. 😉