All Over the Map

I heard about the little boy in Brooklyn yesterday. Someone left a NY Post on the subway I took from work and I saw the headline. CC filled me in, just the barest details because I asked him to stop. It wasn’t something I could handle in public.

Later, around 1:30am, way after everyone else was asleep, I looked it up online. And I wept. I sobbed so hard I woke the puggles up and they both tried to be in my lap at the same time.

Christine at Quasi Agitato wrote a post about it that I read and thought me too.

When I could pull myself together, I went into #5’s room. He’s the same age and wears the same glasses as the little boy who took a wrong turn and met the very wrongest man.

I know that real parents do this, but I don’t very much: I scooped him up and I squeezed him and gave thanks for him until I was afraid he’d wake up and wonder why I was acting so weird, and I stopped, because I didn’t want to tell him. I don’t want him to know that things like this happen in our world.

I fell asleep crying, thinking about the little boy and his family, and his close-knit Orthodox community who through all this badness are saying, We were lucky to have him if only for a short time, who are saying, God wanted it, and are being stronger than I can comprehend.

Here’s the part that I hate. I woke up late. I didn’t immediately remember why I felt so heavy, why my eyes were swollen. Found out there was a presentation at Vacation Bible School this morning, the last day of it, and the kids wanted me to come, which made me cranky.

I snapped at all the kids and I didn’t realize it until they went out the door.

Ever wish you could have a do-over? I heard somewhere I could start my day over any time I wanted to, so that’s what I did. I tried to be nice to all the kids and not be a jerk for the rest of the day.


I went to the presentation at VBS. #4 and #5 were participants, #3 was helping with the little teeny kids, and #2 sat with me. It was pretty amusing.

First off, each kid had been given a glow stick necklace, and most of them wouldn’t hook properly. Total glowstick chaos in the darkened gymnasium. The lady running the presentation got on the microphone and apologized for the poor fastening, but told the kids that they needed to leave their glow sticks alone. It was about as effective as you might imagine. The kids who did get them hooked were flinging them around, rolling them like hoops, playing ring toss. The kids who didn’t were largely using them as lightsabers.

They did, however, quiet down for her.

I looked at this gym full of kids learning about God and I remembered that the boy in Brooklyn was learning about God at his camp too.

There was music. They had tracks from a national band that does kid worship music. While it’s not really my thing, I liked that this band took old hymns and totally hipped out the music, all different styles. Lots of hooks. I love hooks.

I also loved that the opening number had a shitload of Marilyn Manson riffs in it.

I learned that God is unchanging. That was the theme of VBS this year.

I was reminded that the people in this church are really nice. I’m the one who doesn’t attend services, but everyone is looking out for the souls of my children and they go out of their way to make sure the kids know about things like VBS and Sunday School, and they even pick them up and take them there. Even though I suck, these people never make me feel anything but welcome.

I learned that they’re soldiers in the Lord’s Army. Which I guess is kind of like the KISS Army, but mightier (except perhaps where marketing is concerned).

When it was over, my kids all flocked over to me and were running up and down the bleachers. #5 informed me that he has a new way to play dead, and indicated that it involves his glow stick. He ran off.

#2: Never a good sign when one of your children tells you he has a new way to play dead.

Me: Too true.

He never did demonstrate it.

Then they fed us. Did I mention that these people are really, really nice?

#5 kept poking my stomach while we were sitting on the ground eating chips and hotdogs. He thought it was hilarious and kept saying screaming at the top of his lungs, “It jiggles! It jiggles!” Thanks, #5. On the way back to the car he grabbed a cookie. It was homemade. Chocolate Chip.

#5: Do you have a cookie?

Me: No.

#5: They’re really delicious. (“delicious”. I love it when he says things like that) Do you want a bite?

Me: No, but thank you, that’s very sweet of you to offer.

#5: Good.

Me: Good?

#5: Yes, I’m glad you don’t want a bite.

Me: If I had said yes, would you have said, “Too bad”?

#5: No. But I would have told you to take only a small bite.

Me: Oh.

#5: You can fit like a whole cookie in your mouth.


When I got home, I saw that Chase McFadden and Leanne Shirtliffe had posted #4 and #5’s Jump Off a Cliff and Fall to Your Doom Song on Stuff Kids Write. That made me smile.

I had a conversation with #1 on the phone. I liked that. We don’t talk enough.

CC had an unexpected afternoon off. He was reading on our bed when the puggles came up and fell asleep in circles next to him. He nodded off. #5 came in and sat next to them and read his Magic Tree House book, petting Casey the whole time. It was super cute and I wish I had a picture of it, but my camera is dead from a recent trip to pick up #2 from her volleyball camp at the Naval Academy, so you’ll have to settle for a different picture of #5 and Casey sleeping.

There’s a thirteen year old girl with type one diabetes at the Bikram yoga studio I go to in the city. She’s doing the 30-day challenge and blogging about it here. I couldn’t go to a class today, so I went to the gym and worked out hard.

Diana at Life Well Blended linked to a recipe that I tried. I think it was supposed to be one of those thirty minute deals but it took me more like an hour and a half (not surprising). I made it ugly but yummy, and the kids mostly ate it.

Sweeping my front porch for the first time since I moved in two years ago, I was joined by a mother wild turkey with eight baby wild turkeys. Wished again for my camera. I love the sounds they make. I’m also glad I don’t drink Wild Turkey anymore.

#5 and I are in the scary part of our current book,  I Survived Hurricane Katrina, where the family is trapped in their house and the water is coming into the attic and they’re chopping their way out onto the roof. He wanted to know how big their house was, how tall, and when I told him it was the same as ours, he was afraid. So I got us out of it with a joke, like we always do. We joked about how Jack will always protect us from the storms because that’s why he’s so worried all the time: he’s on emergency watch. And he would bark that water right back to the ocean.

I’m listening to Rasputina. I’m listening to Type O Negative. I’m trying to shake the heavy and accept what is. How I wish I was in Brooklyn on Monday just happening to walk down the wrong turn street at the right time. How I wish I didn’t need do-overs in my own home, that I always remembered what a gift each day, each moment, with each kid is. The familiar feeling comes that somebody trusts me way too much, that clearly there’s been some error.

But I’m still here. We’re all still here. Thank you, whoever, for that.


28 thoughts on “All Over the Map

  1. I cried, too, when I heard about the little boy in New York. One of my CASA kids is autistic and is only 3 but I could relate to the story. We don’t understand why these things happen. I don;t know why. But it’s a terrible thing.

  2. Agnostic, not searching, but I’ve now found Rasputina – ehhh, just as well…
    Grieve, sob, weep. It’s necessary. Then think happy thoughts, stay positive, hopeful, thankful.

  3. i really enjoyed reading this post, i felt a real connection with you, even though we haven’t ever met. thank you for sharing!!

    p.s. i love rasputina. they prompted me to take cello lessons (which i ended up hating and quitting).

    1. Thanks for reading! Love Rasputina. I did a whole year as a Music Ed major and we had to learn a new instrument each semester. Anyone who can make a string instrument sound better than a dying mutant cat mating with a rabid raccoon is god-like to me.

  4. Julie, I too, feel like I know you better in this post. I really feel your anguish, and sadness. It makes me feel sad, and kind of helpless. Like I don’t know what I can do to help you and make you feel more comfortable. But, then I realize that there’s little I can do to make you feel more comfortable because there are horrible people in this world who do horrible things to innocents. I used to work in a position which exposed me to the horribles but I found it was making me a crazy mom. I couldn’t sleep without thinking about the horribles doing something to my kids. I guess the best we can do is what you seem to be doing, loving them up, staying present in the moment, and when you mess up (as we all do), give yourself a do over. Hugs.

  5. My 9yo is a worrier…I wonder if making light would help. I will try that.
    But, yes, the heavy is really presenting itself these days. We’ll get around it. Thankfully.

    1. It’s always a tough call, which way to go with the little ones. One of the articles a woman who lived in their neighborhood was quoted that she was going to tell her kids it happened in a far away neighborhood so they wouldn’t worry.

  6. The world suddenly becomes a very scary place once you have kids. I see murderers and rapists around every corner. I can’t drive under an overpass without imagining “what if it just fell down on top of us?”. If we’re walking on the footpath I get an image of Master 5 deciding to do a little dance and tumbling in front of that car coming towards us. If we’re walking by the water I imagine that cyclist being careless and nudging one of the kids into the water.

    That story of the 8 year old is just heart breaking. Sometimes I have to just not read stories like that…other times yes, I think it makes you so much more grateful for the chance to spend one more day listening to your child and spending time with them.

  7. I don’t have any words that others haven’t said already. The world is sometimes a beautiful, wondrous, amazing place, and it is sometimes harsh, and painful, and completely lacking in compassion. I know exactly how you feel; I think every parent has an experience like this, where a news story really gets to you as it connects to your kids and your family. Nothing anyone can ever say will ever take away the empty spot in those parents lives, but I’m betting that if they read your post, they’d be incredibly grateful for your heartfelt sympathy and grief.
    Above and beyond that, you aren’t just a real parent… you’re something more than that. You are a real parent who CHOSE these kids, specifically. That is amazing, and someday, they’ll appreciate you all the more. As the child of a truly “half-assed” step-parent, I assure you that you are way more than that. As the wife of a man who has taken on my children and feels exactly about them as he does his own, I can tell you… There is MILES between the two types of parents. You are doing a fantastic job! Thanks for this post. Made me want a do-over, today, too.

    1. Thanks, this comment made my day. Also? I have been carrying this damn caption contest DVD around in my bag for ten days now. My sole goal tomorrow is to mail it out to you. I’ll see if I can find something else interesting to put in the package.

  8. My friends and I were talking about the little boy this weekend. My one friend lives two blocks away from where they found the suitcase in the dumpster. It’s is so scary that there are people like that in the world, and hearing stories like this really does make you reevaluate and realize how good we really have it.
    I wouldn’t do-over anything I did today. I played with my nephew all day and had a blast. I just wish I could do it everyday.

Comment. It gives me a reason not to clean my house.

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