Sometimes I Think Before I Speak

The boys headed off to stay with their Nina, their paternal grandma, this weekend while my husband enjoyed 36 hours of childfree bliss.

We lazed around the house a bit. We shopped — with no whining. We ate meals while they were still hot. We drank coffee — while it was still hot. We listened to inappropriate rap music. We laughed so hard we cried. We slept the peaceful sleep of adults not being woken up by a little face right next to the bed, not-so-stage-whispering, “Mommy… Mommy! Can I have breakfast? I AM STARVING!” We were still somehow almost late for church, which maybe leads me to believe it might be our fault and not theirs but the jury is still out on that one. We enjoyed our time together.

Our 36 hours of dating has come to an end. We're off to get the boys. @cfd46 is impersonating Booey.

Really, the weekend was a much needed little bit of respite. I like spending time with my husband. I do!

Someone asked me what I did this weekend, and so I briefly shared the truth. “Oh, my mother-in-law watched the boys and we had a Date Day, Night, Morning and Afternoon.”

The Someone snort-smirked. “Must be nice,” The Someone hissed.

I just kind of blinked.

Well, yeah. It was nice. That was kind of the point of it.

I didn’t respond right away. I mean, what do you say to someone who is seemingly mad at you for living your life? I apparently raised an eyebrow which was an obvious cue for The Someone to launch into a tirade.

“Well, I just don’t understand why couples think they can just pawn their kids off on the grandparents all the time and go out and party and do God knows what. Why have kids?”


What now?

I could have gotten all defensive and told The Someone that my mother-in-law hadn’t had the kids since before her surgery in November. I could have called a spade a spade and called The Someone a Jelly Face. I could have told The Someone to shut its pie hole, but my husband and I have disagreed on whether or not Jesus would actually say that, so I am trying to refrain just in case he wouldn’t.

I could have said any number of things and, really, no one would have blamed me for getting on my soapbox and laying into this Someone. But I had one of those moments in which I pause and think before I speak, which is a rarity, I know. I then, in that moment, had a flash of a saying, pinned often and in various forms. “Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Though I kind of like the one that goes, “Everyone is fighting their own battles; try not to be a ____.” (I don’t write that word here. Fill it with your own. Jackwagon works nicely.) I kind of sighed a little, not because I was all that angst and woe about what had just been said to me but because I couldn’t get on my soapbox. Everyone needs a good soapbox on a Monday.

“Well, our kids are just so lucky to have grandparents that argue over who gets to have them next!” I forced a smile across my face, the tone of my voice much sweeter than usual. Saccharine like; very un-Jenna. “Well, we have to finish this errand! Have a nice day!” And I walked away, pushing the cart and pulling my children along behind me. Because, oh yeah, they got to witness that unnecessary exchange as well.

I bought expensive dog food and treats, dragged my children into the grocery for my new weakness, mint and chocolate cocoa, and then made my way home where I made dinner, cleaned the house and played Go Fish and War with my boys.

Getting schooled at Go Fish. #punny

As I was getting them ready for bed, BigBrother asked, “Mommy, are we not supposed to go to Nina’s house?”

I forced myself to take a breath so I didn’t yell my answer. Obviously I wasn’t mad at my son, but the anger I felt toward some random semi-not-really acquaintance was really starting to cramp my style.

“Buddy, that’s not it at all. And listen, I want you to take each and every moment you have with your grandparents and cherish them. Remember them. Make the most of them. Grandparents are something really, really special. Don’t you forget that. Now go get in the shower.”

I maintain that the relationship between grandparents and grandkids is something special, something to be cherished and nurtured. I am thankful, especially so after this exchange, that my children are blessed with grandparents who not only want their grandkids’ presence but actively seek it.

And since Someone asked, I had children in hopes that they might grow up to bring more good to the world than bad. You know, unlike that Special Monday exchange I had with Someone. So shut your pie hole. Please. And that’s what Jenna would say — if she didn’t think first. Ahem.


Don’t You Ever Lay a Hand on My Boys

I’m sick to my stomach. I barely slept last night. And as I loaded the page to start writing this, the tears finally came. Angry tears. Heartbroken tears. Back to angry tears.

As I was writing yesterday’s post full of childhood innocence and bubbles here at church camp, FireDad logged on to tell me the news that the Pastor at the church where our sons attend preschool has been arrested on two counts of gross sexual imposition with a four year old. I almost vomited.

I vacillated last night between shocked and scared and angry and upset and angry and angry and angry. I tossed and turned all night. I forced myself to stay in bed for awhile this morning, only because I didn’t want to face more of the thoughts and fears and questions. Once BigBrother got up, I just kissed his precious little head and didn’t want to let him go. He looked at me oddly. I gave him breakfast.

I haven’t talked to the boys yet. FireDad has stayed behind this year, not attending camp with us, so he could remodel our bathroom. (Again: WOO HOO!) I want us to be together when we speak to the boys, and I figure we’ll have to break it into several different conversations. While the alleged criminal is supposed to have had no one-on-one contact with any child from the preschool, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to have had done what he did to this child as well. He ran the Christmas and spring programs. He has been in close enough proximity to my children without my supervision that the discussions have to be had… and I can’t do it without the support of my husband.

I am beyond upset right now.

Despite the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing with this parenting gig and I’m doing it wrong all the time — hovering too much, not hovering enough — I have always had an overwhelming weight on my shoulders to keep these boys safe. In therapy I was able to recognize that this overwhelming need stems from my perceived inabilities when I was pregnant with the Munchkin and the many ways in which I feel that I failed her. And while I worked through some of that, that need is always there: protect these boys, don’t let anything bad happen.

I have accepted that bruises and scrapes happen despite my medium-not-quite-hovering actions. I anticipate future stitches. Maybe a broken bone. Probably some broken hearts. But I’ve been sitting at the playground all week here at camp, reading while they run and jump and climb and slide and swing and sometimes forget what they’re doing and walk in front of the swing while someone is indeed swinging. But they only did the latter once, having learned a lesson. I’ve been pretty proud of myself all week. “Look at me! Look at me sitting and reading while they play! Look at me not being all helicopter mom up in this piece! Look at me letting them run to the playground, which is out of site of our cottage (but just barely) and requiring them to come back in 10 minutes to check in! Look at me! I’m finally doing this. I’m allowing them to spread their wings. I am finally calming down and accepting that life happens and I can’t save them from everything. Look at me!”

Yeah. Well. Look at me now.

I enrolled them in one of the best preschools in the area. One that some moms fight to get their kids into for a variety of reasons. And it’s a good school. The teachers are exactly what you wish for preschool teachers: kind, loving, fun, patient. They love my boys — even when my boys talk too much. I had patted myself on the back about this preschool. “Look at me! I got my kids in the right preschool. Whew. What a relief!”

Yeah. Well. Look at me now. Again.

I was doing what I thought was right. I was doing what other parents told me to do. I trusted that they would be safe. I trusted that the church-based school would take care of my sons. They were safer there than somewhere else, right?

But they weren’t safer. Apparently our children are never safe. Ever. Anywhere.

I recognize that my children have a very slim chance of having encountered this man in an unseemly way. I get that. But it’s like watching a child get attacked by a shark when your sons are swimming four feet away and you’re on the shore watching it all unfold. Yes, they come out of the water unscathed. Maybe they didn’t even see it, too busy doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But then you want me to let them go back in the water?

You want me to let them out of my sight?

You want me to trust that they’ll be okay next time?

You want me to let go of my already deep-seeded insecurities and just hope and pray that they’ll be okay?

Oh, sure. Let me get right on that.

There’s apparently a meeting coming up at the preschool. I am already upset with the school that the parents of past students weren’t notified before the article came out in the media with two days between his arrest and the break in the news. I am SO grateful for people who know bits and pieces have contacted me and allayed some fears — though I’m obviously still a hot mess. Of course, I fully expect the meeting to fall this coming week after FireDad and I have already left for San Diego for BlogHer ’11, because that’s my luck. I don’t know what we’ll do. Sure, this Pastor — and I use the word very lightly — is to have no contact with minors. I’ll venture to guess he won’t be back in the preschool, probably even if he is found innocent as he’s 71 and the dude should probably just retire and get out of dodge. Quickly. While looking over his shoulder. And I don’t care if that doesn’t sound very Christian, because I’m not feeling very loving right now.

But how am I supposed to shake the dread that has been awakened within me? How am I supposed to send BigBrother off to Kindergarten in two-and-a-half weeks? How am I supposed to send LittleBrother back to the same preschool? How am I supposed to sit here while my children are currently up the hill in their camp class? When something like this happens in another city or even in a nearby school, it’s someone else’s problem. When it’s in your school? And you don’t know the details or if the person had access to your children? It’s sickening and scary and makes you doubt every decision you’ve made leading up to this point.

The only good thing — that so many have pointed out — is that both boys are very verbal, especially for boys. But I’m shaken to my core. I trusted very few people to care for my children prior to this news and now I feel like I trust people even less.

Prayer Bell

But let it be known by every person who has contact with my sons: Don’t you ever, ever lay a hand on them. If you think I talk Mama Bear, you should see me act Mama Bear.