Long Days and Short Years

just trying to pay attention so I don't miss my life

1 Comment

Why Preschool is my Friend

“Mama, can we paint?”

The correct answer to this question is no.  I said yes.

About an hour later, I was recovering.  Diego was conducting my children’s daily Spanish lessons.  And then, from the very depths of my maternal soul, came a thought so true and so obvious that I spoke it into an empty room.

“This is why I send my children to preschool.”


Yes, I am a bad mother.  I am also a good one.  And I am better with preschool at my side.

And so, with all respect for the homeschooling parents (and hoping that the feeling is mutual), I present a short list of reasons why I am grateful to drop my children off at a small brick building for a few hours each day.  Only one is specific to our very own preschool, and so I will get it out of the way first.

1.  Mr. Rogers once worked with children there, and his child development mentor was the original director.  Really.  Mr. Fred Rogers.  He is my hero.

2.  The teachers are more well-rested than myself and my husband.  This makes them much nicer to our children.

3.  Educational toys galore that I don’t have to buy.  Or store.  Or trip over and threaten to hide in a bin for a month if they don’t Put Them Away Right Now.

4.  Other parents in the same young child boat to commiserate with.  Groaning about the effects of daylight savings time (non-sleepy kids at night who can’t get up in the morning) or a pink-eye epidemic or kindergarten lotteries with people who understand them for the tragedies that they are.

5.  A flat area for tricycles, bookshelves full of colorful and appropriate books,and potties that are just their size.  It’s like someone designed the room just for, well, preschoolers.

6.  Relationships with child development professionals who know my particular kids, and who don’t mind lots of questions.

7.  Supervised small group interactions that I don’t have to supervise.  Good for them, good for me.

8.  Driving away in the car without first strapping someone into the car seat.  Going to the bathroom by my stinkin self.  Drinking the entire cup of coffee without having to heat it again in the microwave.  Freedom!

9.  Paint, glue and even GLITTER that I don’t have to find, get out, become stressed out by, or clean up.

10.  Two lovely little girls who run down the sidewalk towards preschool and then greet their teachers with hugs.  Most days.  And even when I deliver them kicking and screaming, the teachers don’t seem to mind.


My Prayer for Boston

I googled tentatively, warned by my husband that the photos were graphic.  One keystroke in the search bar, “B”, and the whole mess spilled across the screen.  I covered the pictures and read the words.  It didn’t help.  My imagination went right to work.

I am still a bit stunned, so forgive me if I can’t find the words.  But already I search for them, mostly because I want to pray but don’t know how.  So later, now, while my husband puts the kids to bed, I pull open the computer again, and try to talk to the sky:


Really?  Again, Lord, what the…  Aren’t you a little sick and tired of giving evil so much power?  One person, one hundred people behind this, I don’t know, but limbs flew.  Human limbs blasted off, flew.  You and I have talked about this before.  Can’t you just have a car hit the guy who is about to shoot up an elementary school?  Can’t you just stop the rapists, the demi-god dictators, the soldiers who recruit children?  Can’t you just… Do Something?

Yeah, I’m angry.  But you can take it.  I just get tired of hearing the latest tragedy… the latest incident that my housemates can’t tell me about until the kids are out of earshot.  And then twenty minutes after I find out, I am holding my own daughter–safe, snuggling, beloved limbs intact–on the couch, reading the kid’s version of Little House on the Prairie, all the while trying not to think about it.  But I do.  And I tremble as I hold her.

Do I just beg you to please please please never let such horror come close to me and the ones I love?  This is what I feel: not me, not here, not my own.  Just keep it at arms length, just pretend that I am different, protected, somehow.

But that’s not true.  Because I know that they are like me, those who are suffering as I sit here and blog.  They are like me, those who are afraid that the loved one won’t make it though the night.  They are like me, those who ran a marathon but won’t walk away from the hospital.  They are like me, those who won’t sleep tonight because their minds will reply again and again whatever it was they wish they hadn’t seen.

They are like me, so what do I ask you for us all?  No more bombings, shootings, child abuse, genocides?  This seems futile.  It just doesn’t fit with the only world I know.  We suffer here, and none if us can keep it away.  But you.  I know you too.  You have done something, you are doing something, and you will do more: but you’re not just a fix-it God.

You are here.  Here.  It may just be your main attribute.  Here.  This I know firsthand.  I have never suffered alone.

And so tonight, tonight the request part of my prayer is just two words: Be there.  Be there in hospitals and hotel rooms.  Be there at 2 a.m. and at 4, you who are near to the brokenhearted.  Be there at funerals, be there as we all mourn together.  Be there… do I even need to ask?  Be there.  Please.  Because we’re all so sad and afraid.