My little boys love racing each other down a ramp near our house. Yesterday, much to my two-year-old’s chagrin, my seven-year-old, Li’l D, only wanted to run down twice.
“Could you please run down one more time with him?” I asked D. D, seizing the opportunity, said he’d run down it one more time … if I said I was obnoxious.
I weighed his proposal for a moment before mumbling, “I’m obnoxious.”
“What? I couldn’t hear you,” he teased.
“I’m obnoxious!” I said, much louder.
He grinned before racing down the ramp with Littler J.
“Again?!” D asked.
“I’m obnoxious,” I replied.
Both my boys laughed as they raced down the ramp one more time, and I? I laughed, too.
have so much energy,”
a mom told my husband
as she watched him and me
play with our boys
at the playground
a few weeks ago.
we have fun,”
I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.
I kept stepping.
“It really looks
like you’re having fun
with your kids!” a cashier
told me and my husband
a few days later.
(“It just comes naturally
to my husband,” I should’ve said,
“My mom really
had fun with me
and my siblings,”
I said, smiling.
I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.
I kept stepping.
my husband that
is just the sweetest.
“He said, ‘You can tell which
kids are so, so very loved,’
my husband relayed. Read more…
One of my sons is sick today. Because I am lucky, his grandma is watching him while his dad and I work.
The other son’s school didn’t open on time. Someone on the staff either missed an alarm or had an accident, and so my little one and I stood outside the school for 45 minutes before it opened. Because I am lucky, my manager laughed when I explained I’d be late. “What, you don’t want to leave him to fend for himself in the parking lot!?” he replied.
My son shrieked with glee when he saw his teacher, which made me smile.
Every day, I am able to either be with my sons or leave them with people who care. Because I have been unlucky, I am grateful to be so lucky today.
I grew up with both violence and denial. Denial aggravated me far more than violence.
Violence came and went. It happened because it happened. Parents were sometimes cruel, and then the kids they violated often learned to be cruel, too.
Denial, on the other hand, screamed, “I have the luxury of pretending what happened to you could not happen to me! Therefore, it happened because there was something uniquely terrible and deserving about you!”
The violence I endured as a child taught me to trust my instincts.
When a “charming” acquaintance made my skin crawl, I told my friends. They said I didn’t give him enough credit.
They were shocked when he committed murder-suicide. I was shocked, but not surprised. I’d lived with violence long enough to identify the subtle indicators others could simply choose to ignore. The little red flags he displayed didn’t even register for 99% of the people around me, none of whom–otherwise–themselves presented a single red flag.
When one of my sisters was at risk, I knew it because of how her communication changed. She didn’t have to tell me much for some part of me to cry out, “Alert! Alert! Alert!” even before she first told me he’d attacked her. I identified the risk before I could express it well.
When she called me about a later attack, I’d just finished reading security expert Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I had vocabulary to show her the risk I saw. From the book, I read her a list of danger signs displayed by a partner. She told me her boyfriend had “done at least 25 of those things” and, thank God, packed up and drove more than a thousand miles south to begin a new life here in SoCal.
Had she stayed, she might not have survived.
When a neighbor told my son what to do, speaking over me to command Li’l D against my wishes, I trusted my instincts … and Gavin de Becker’s Protecting the Gift. I said no and ended the conversation. My neighbor’s aggressive reaction to this affirmed how right I am not only to trust my instincts, but to teach my sons to trust theirs.
Many times before now, I’ve told you I will not perpetuate violence by my denial.
All the same, I wanted to shove my intuition aside in 2016 when it screamed, “Your representatives don’t represent you!” Instead, because I committed to never perpetuate denial at others’ expense, I researched. Once again, I discovered my instincts had guided me well. They uncovered truths logic alone would’ve kept concealed.
Despite everything I’d learned in youth, I’d been taken. I’d had no idea that the predatory tactics of pedophiles could be adopted en masse by politicians. I’d never have even had cause to suspect, had I not grown up in such mayhem.
My siblings and I grew up in violence.
Our experiences with violence shaped what we saw this election cycle and how we saw it.
Today, my just-younger sister and I wrote about this in “We Grew Up in Violence: Thoughts on the Changing of the Guard.” We hope you’ll read it … and know that we’re writing with love for our children and yours.
My two-year-old hides behind his hands, then throws his arms out wide while shouting, “Boo!”
I shriek as if startled, which makes him scream in delight before devolving into giggle-fits.
We repeat this over and over. Sometimes, we’ll do it a hundred times in one sitting.
My seven-year-old recently asked, exasperated, why I pretend to be afraid.
I replied, already wistful, “Your brother will understand soon enough that he’s not actually scaring me. So while he still believes it, I’ll keep on shrieking. I’ll keep on cherishing the sweet sound of him laughing, knowing he’ll soon enough be on to other joys.”
“Oh. Will you scream if I do it, too?”
“Sure, if your brother’s around.”
So he tried, too, and I shouted in mock horror.
Now, for at least a little while, both my little boys take turns scaring me, and I’m happy.
My older son spent his first three years in an apartment a few blocks from the ocean. We’d often walk to a nearby park just across the street from the ocean.
My husband, Anthony, and I took both our boys and their new digging toys to this park the day after Christmas.
Seven-year-old Li’l D had barely begun using his remote-controlled excavator when a slightly younger girl came up and asked him to use it. My shoulders stiffened a little and I held my breath, hoping no intervention would be required.
(I’m not usually an intervener. Kids learn these ropes by navigating them. Still, sugar coursed through both my boys’ veins and the toy was very new.)
“Sure!” he replied. “This is how you use it.” He gave her a 30-second crash course before scampering off to make friends.
Li’l D and his two-year-old brother, Littler J, spent an hour and a half roaming the playground and laughing with new friends.
Li’l D never did return to his excavator. His dad fetched it after the last kid using it walked away to join Littler with his tiny excavators and trucks.
As our trip wound down, I looked at Li’l D holding his own with a bunch of kids across the park at the see-saw.
“Wow,” I told Anthony. “We don’t need to watch him so close anymore, huh? Always hovering just a few steps away …”
“We don’t,” he agreed. “This is why I take him and let him run.”
I looked just past my feet to Littler, who was busy burying his tiny excavator beneath a mound of sand.
Someday soon, Littler will be big enough to roam further away from Anthony and me.
He’ll do this in preparation for The Big Roam many years ahead.
But for now? For now, with a few asides to chase after his big brother, he is happiest playing just a few feet from Mommy and Daddy.
I’ll savor his nearness now, but when it’s his time to run? I’ll savor that, too, as another part of this whole gorgeous, messy journey of loving little kids hard enough that they’ll someday feel me nearby even when we’re in very different somewheres, far beyond the sandbox.