Monthly Archives: December 2012

Merry Christmas, y’all

Another Christmas has come and gone. For the past few weeks we have been wrapped in a flurry of school parties, play dates with friends, baking cookies and decorating gingerbread houses, long, lazy evenings watching movies, visits from grandparents, Christmas Eve cocktails with neighbors and Christmas Day oysters with good friends.

Fletcher’s favorite gifts this year were his much anticipated iPod Touch and the surprise Skylanders Giants, followed by his new Lego chess set (he is determined to teach me to play chess.) Santa brought Lola Gray the guitar she has been dreaming of, and her grandparents showered her with American Girl goodies galore. But Lo says her favorite gift of all is the betta fish from Mommy and Daddy. She named him Fishy Fishy.

My favorite gifts, cheesy though it may sound, are the amazing people around me, both big and small. I am so, incredibly lucky to share my life with them.

I know what six looks like

Last Friday morning I almost didn’t kiss Fletcher goodbye. I was sitting in the kitchen with my coffee and a headache, and he ran happily out the door. I almost didn’t get up and go after him.

And then Friday happened. And as I sat glued to the tv in horror, I kept replaying that moment over and over in my head. What if I hadn’t gone after him for that kiss? What if this had happened at our school?

I met the kids at school that day instead of letting them walk home on their own. I just couldn’t get my arms around them fast enough. And in the days since, that hasn’t changed. I physically ache for them when they aren’t with me. It’s crazy. I know it is crazy. And yet I can’t let go of the thought that those children who didn’t come home Friday, they were my kids. They were just like my kids. And it is simply too much to bear.

It has been a week now, but these overwhelming feelings of grief have not subsided. I’m feeling particularly protective of my sweet first grader, Lola. Silly little things bring me to tears . . .  watching her dance in the Nutcracker Saturday night, the gifts made of paper and tape and sea shells she carefully places under our Christmas tree, the love note she brought home from a sweet boy in her class, the curve of her cheek still holding onto it’s baby fat, the way she sucks her thumb in her sleep . . . I can not imagine my world without her. I can not comprehend the kind of evil that would direct itself  towards a class full of sweet children just like her.

Every morning when they climb into bed with me, I am so, incredibly grateful for another day with my babies. And so painfully heartbroken for the family who will never again have the chance for sleepy morning snuggles. I think about those families all the time.

Earlier in the week I saw a blog post entitled “I Know What Six Looks Like” and it summed these feelings up perfectly. Beautifully.  You can find the original post, written by Jennifer Walters, on her blog here or reposted on the Huffington Post. Please read it. Please remember it. Something has got to change. Because six really is the whole world.

 . . . since I first started to understand the magnitude of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning, I have cried a lot. I cried when I heard the terrible news. I cried when I went to pick my son up early from school. I cried when I told my husband what had happened. I cried when I talked to my girlfriends about it. I cried at church when we prayed for each victim by name. Off and on for going on three days now, I have cried. And this is despite going out of my way to not watch anything about it on TV or read too much about it online. I’m actively trying to avoid it, but I still find myself crying more than usual.

I mentioned this to a friend last night and she said that she couldn’t seem to stop crying either. When I asked her why she thought that was, her answer was, for me, a revelation. She said, “I think it’s because we know what six looks like. We see it every day . . . in all its glory.” And she was right. Because, you see, this friend and I both have a six year old child. I, a six year old son. She, a six year old daughter. Both are in first grade. Both, I imagine, so heart-breakingly similar to those twenty kids who were so brutally and senselessly killed on Friday morning. And we do, indeed, know what six looks like. We do see it every day. In all its glory. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly. The beautiful and the infuriating. It’s in our face. We live it and breathe it.

We know what six looks like. We know what it smells like. How it can go from the fresh scent of shampoo and soap to the musky aroma of “dirty child” in what seems like minutes. How it resists getting in the bathtub . . . and then resists getting out half an hour later. How sweet its hair and skin and clean jammies smell when it sits on your lap and asks you to read it a bedtime story. We know the unmistakeable fragrance of the occasional accident in the middle of the night caused by too much milk and no last-thing-before-bed visit to the toilet.

We know what six looks like. We know what it sounds like. How it cries and whines. How it sings and laughs. How clever it is and how much more clever it grows every day. How it sounds out words on signs as we drive past in the car and how happy it is when it gets them right. How annoying it sounds when it teases its little sister and how kind it sounds when it soothes her when she falls down and hurts herself. We know how lovely the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” and “I Love You” sound in its six-year-old voice.

We know what six looks like. We know how it feels. How big it’s getting. How fast it outgrows its clothes and how it’s no longer a baby, but not quite yet a big kid. We know the weight of six in our arms. How we can barely carry it anymore, but try anyway because we can’t quite bring ourselves to accept the truth. We know how easily six gets its feelings hurt if someone says just the wrong thing or if this friend or that one doesn’t want to play with it or it gets in trouble at school. We know the velvety softness of six’s skin. We know the still-silkiness of its hair.

Yes, we know what six looks like. We know six’s gap-toothed smile and its gangly arms and legs. We see how it jumps and dances. How it twirls and runs. We know how funny six is. How absolutely charming it can be. We know six’s terrible jokes. We know how obsessed it is with “Minecraft.” We know its crooked “S” and its backwards “3.” We see how it teeters on the cusp of the world of books and all the joys of reading, but how it’s not quite ready to fall in yet. We see how six can’t decide if it wants us to stand beside it or not. We watch it take two steps towards independence and one step back towards us every day. We know how sturdy and strong six is . . . and yet how frail and fragile.

We know what six looks like. How beautiful it is. How precious. How brightly it shines with promise. How much it looks towards the future . . . toward seven, eight, nine, . . . How much it looks like forever.

We know what six looks like and can only in our worst nightmares imagine how devastating its loss in this senseless and evil way would be.  We can only barely imagine the wreckage and the despair and the utter hopelessness that would be left if six were brutally and suddenly taken from us. We know we couldn’t bear life without it.

Yes, we know what six looks like. And we know that, to us–like it must be for those other mothers and fathers in Connecticut–six is the whole world.

My little Polichinelle

Holiday concert

The kids had their winter concert at this week’s PTA meeting, and for the first time both Fletcher and Lola Gray played violin. The whole thing was a disorganized mess, as usual, but the kids sounded great. I was particularly proud of Lo, who performed with the 2nd and 3rd graders, while Fletcher played with the 4th and 5th graders.

Visiting Santa

American Girl birthday

Friday afternoon, Lola Gray and I jumped in the car with her two besties for a girls weekend birthday road trip extraordinaire. Our destination: the American Girl store in Atlanta!

We drove a little more than half way before stopping for the night in Macon – with plenty of time for pillow fights and a dip in the hotel pool – before heading on to Atlanta Saturday morning.

The store was crazy packed, but right away we recognized some familiar faces! Grandmama was passing through Atlanta, with Aunt Carol and Aunt Brenda, and stopped in to surprise the birthday girl! We shopped with Grandmama for a bit, then had a birthday lunch in the tea room while Grandmama shopped some more (I think it is going to be an American Girl Christmas this year!) Then after lunch each of the girls picked out a few special things for their dolls. I don’t know if it is always so packed or if it was just the Christmas rush, but we had to wait in line for 30 minutes to pay for our purchases! All four of us were exhausted by the time we left.

Fortunately, everyone seemed to get a second wind once we reached the hotel. The girls were so excited to see the special check-in area just for them (and their dolls, of course) but that was nothing compared to the excitement once we reached our room! I had reserved the special American Girl “everything pink” package at the Mariott as a birthday surprise – and what a surprise it was! As soon as we opened the door, the girls started squealing. Everything was pink. Pink comforters, pink pillows, pink beanbag chair, pink towels in the bathroom, and matching pink bathrobes for each girl and her doll! Plus, there was an American Girl travel doll bed for each girl to keep. I am so glad I decided to spend the extra money for the package – the smiles on their faces were worth every penny and then some.

We spent the afternoon at the hotel pool, had pizza and cookies delivered to the room, then headed downstairs in our jammies for a special screening of an American Girl movie.

The ride home Sunday was a long one, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The girls got along so beautifully and we all had so much fun together. Happy, happy birthday to my precious little girl!

suddenly seven

In the blink of an eye, my baby is seven. How did that happen??

lolais7!!

The good news is that she is an amazing child. She is sweet and smart and silly and curious. She is a math whiz, can whistle any tune you like, and thinks swiffering the floor is about the most fun thing ever.

lolabirthday

Oh, and her front tooth is refusing to fall out even though the new tooth is coming in right behind it!

NayNay and Grandaddy were in Savannah for Lola’s birthday weekend, and the weather could not have been more beautiful. Saturday we took the dogs to Fort Pulaski and ate lunch at The Crab Shack before heading downtown for the Christmas parade.

Sunday brought birthday donuts at Krispy Kreme before church, where Lola’s choir sang.

For her birthday cupcakes at school on Monday, Lola Gray wanted to make sure her friend Ismael, who has bad allergies, could eat the same treat as everyone else. I thought my heart would burst with pride that she was thinking of her friend first. That’s one special little girl, and I am just so glad she is mine.