I woke up this morning, and did as I always do: I woke up my son. I chased him around the house, getting him ready for his day, then out to the car where we usually settle into a routine patter. I opened my right hand, and he put in his left. I said, “I love this little paw.”
He said, “Paw, paw, paw.” And, he squeezed my hand and took his fingers back, so he could pick his nose.
I told him that was gross, and not to wipe his boogers on my car’s seat. He intimated that I was delusional, and had only imagined seeing him rolling snot between his fingers, to rub it on the side of the seat. I threatened to make him eat what I scraped off the side. He laughed and said, “THAT is what’s gross.”
We went to the orthodontist, and then I placed him very gently* at camp. Then, I drove away to work.
Yesterday, I sat with one of my sister-friends, and I held her newborn. We talked about how sturdy babies are, and about how easy it is to break one. There are words you don’t like to use when you talk about your children, so you try to make the words sound funny instead. You say them crouched down, and knocking wood, hoping you don’t anger some god who will punish you for feeling relief that you’ve made it X number of years without doing permanent damage.
While I was bouncing that boy, Rosalie Ramos was identifying hers.
You can do everything right as a parent. You can love your children, and accept them, and support them, and enjoy them, and appreciate them, and think ahead to be sure they have something good to eat when they come home from a night out with friends, and some other fool’s brokenness is all it takes to deliver you from relief into what has to be a relentless nightmare.
With my son, I try to leave every interaction on a note of love because I can’t be sure whether I’ll get another chance. I don’t know who is gearing up to pay a visit to his school, or the movie theater, or the marathon, or the federal building, or the club, or the office. All I can do is be sure his heart is full wherever he is. All I can do is try to be sure we have the kind of relationship where he feels happy to share video of himself singing and laughing. All I can do is try to build him up into a man who will be part of the solution.
I hate feeling like we live in a world where the opening of Bambi is an instructional video, but more than that, I hate that when Rosalie Ramos opens her refrigerator today, she’s going to see that tomato-and-cheese dip, and her heart is going to break again.
I wish love, and peace to Rosalie and the family, friends, and loved ones who woke up this morning without faces to kiss—be they in Orlando, or Omaha.
*When Thor was three-years-old, he asked me not to “drop him off” at school anymore. He said, “Mama, please, place me very gently.” And I have done so ever since.