April 1, 2013

Special Lies.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 1:23 pm by openendedcomment

You ask how old they are, because that is what people do.  I say 16, 13, 12 and 10.

“Oh cool!  You have a driver!”

And now I say that no, I don’t.  He has special needs and he doesn’t drive.  You are silent, or quickly tell me about someone else’s child who is now “fine.”  Which isn’t the same thing.  At all.

Or I lie and avoid it.

I have learned to lie.

You ask what’s “Wrong” with him

And I tell you he has Aspergers Syndrome (because it’s the one people have heard of) and you say “Oh! I know about that! So he has social issues but he’s really smart.”

I lie.

It’s not that simple.

He also has severe learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and sometimes, he hears voices. But that’s too much and too personal for casual conversation so I say “sort of”

I lie.

When you meet my family and say “So, a big sister and three little brothers”  I quietly correct you that he is the eldest.  And you say “Oh, I just assumed…”

I say “it’s OK.  Honest mistake.”

I lie.

It isn’t OK, he’s going to cry himself asleep tonight or destroy something of hers.  Maybe both.  Because he doesn’t know how to take it and even though it isn’t her fault, he’s going to blame her for being “normal”

Or take it out on his brother, who has lost trophies and awards and friends.  Because he is afflicted by normalcy, too.

You try to do the “right” thing and tell me how lucky we are to have such a special and great kid and how our other children are being taught so much by him being a part of our family.

I lie.

When most of it is right and mostly I agree, that we are lucky, his parents,  I lie that they are lucky.  They aren’t.  They’re lucky to have him and they love him and wouldn’t ever want to be without him, but they aren’t lucky that we are always fighting the next battle which means spending more money and losing more time.  This means they aren’t getting to go skiing or be in hockey over the summer, or have friends over when he’s having a hard time, or go on the vacation we wish we could take or attend a camp, the money and the time goes to get and give him the help he needs.  Something that sounds and when written seems trivial but to kids this is a big deal. It isn’t even kind of fair to them.  It isn’t lucky for them when we’re so stressed we barely speak for days on end because we don’t know how to get to a place where there can be calm and peace in our home when chaos lives here each day with no warning as to when it will come roaring back…in some new awful way.  Lucky would be to have him and also have a break.  Or at least a warning when the “other guy” is on his way.  No such luck.

When you say that you don’t know how I “do it all”

And I tell you “It’s nothing”

I lie.

I don’t “do it all” I do what I can and what I can control, mainly because there is so damn much I have no control over.

When you say “Well, maybe you just need to….”

And I smile and agree or act like I’m paying attention

I lie.

You saw one weekend or one day or one hour of “good” and you have no idea what the other side is like.  He is Jekyll and Hyde and you’ve met but one.  So no, your advice doesn’t really mean anything to me.

When you say “but he seems normal enough, it can’t be that bad.”

I lie.

I spare us both, and I lie.

And yes, there are things that would and could be so very much worse and I remain blessed to have him and all of them each day…but there are times

Times when knowing I and we are blessed and that I should treasure each moment and endeavor to teach them all about unconditional love and acceptance, times when knowing it and feeling it don’t always agree…times when he and sometimes they ask me why this is the way it is and when he will be “better” and what more I can do to help him, when I don’t know that there is more to do that I am capable of…and still have the strength hold the rest together.

Months and days and hours of hurt and pain that a parent who can’t make it all go away feels and still has to explain…

When all I can do is lie.


December 21, 2012

All I want for Christmas.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:06 am by openendedcomment

Dear Santa,

I know it may seem odd to get this letter from me, especially as for the last thirteen years I’ve been you when it comes to gifts and stockings and cookie eating (thank you for that) but in writing to you this year I suppose it’s more about the idea of you…what you stand for…the wonder and the miracle of the season.  I could really use some wonder and what I want may take a miracle, all making you the logical choice for this date.  I know that I haven’t always landed on your “nice” list, I’m the first to admit that to be true.  But from what I understand, you’re a forgiving and jolly sort who can overlook certain things.

This is the season of possibility, of love and togetherness.  Of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” type of things.  I was raised on it.  I believe.  I promise, I still do and as you’ll soon see I wouldn’t be writing if that weren’t true.

This year for Christmas I want something that money can’t buy.  I’m looking for a gift of Christmas itself, of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men.  Of being what we sing and living what we say.  I have prayed each night and every day, I’ve written letters and put good karma into the world.  I’ve asked directly and I’ve quietly waited…and now as all else has failed, I’m trying you.  You who embody Christmas itself and the promise of your most heartfelt desires and deepest of wishes coming true…even if for just one day.

Please, Santa, please…if you can…please let my children have a Christmas filled with family and joy.  Give to my husband the gift of reconciliation and brotherhood.  To my Mother and Step-Father a time of hope and possibility.  To my Dad a time of knowledge that he is the glue that keeps me strong, to my friends the gift of faith and grace that they may know a year without pain, to my dearest friend the gift of return, that some of what she has put into the world may come back to her.  To my oldest friend the gift of health for her Mother, to my cousin and thousands like him, the gift of equality in all things.  I know this list is long and it may seem I’m asking for too much…a few will do in a pinch…but if there is only one thing I can receive, let it be this, the gift of healing and of strength to the Mothers and Fathers and Brothers and Sisters who have angels not on their tree this year, but in heaven far, far too soon.  I heard the bells ringing for them this very morning, all twenty-six have been given their wings. I’m afraid it won’t be Christmas for those left here this year but someday and sometime  it will be again and when that day comes please, please be there for them.

Thank You, Santa.  You made so many childhood dreams come true that even though I fill stockings now, part of me still believes in the promise of you.



December 17, 2012

When there is no reason.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , at 3:05 pm by openendedcomment

I’ve been reading.  News Sites, Blogs, Facebook…reading everything everywhere and each place I turn it is there.  The stories of children lost.  Stories of parents hugging their children a bit harder, saying “I love you” one extra time and even one picking their child up from school to go to a toy store.  Because they can.

I read another story, of someone criticizing saying “if it takes this to make you hug your child, you’re doing it wrong.” And that one hurt me.  That one actually made me mad.  You’re not “doing it wrong” you were just reminded how blessed you are to have that child and to need to express that love.  To be comforted by small arms and innocence and the hope that is our children.  To need to love them more now than ever is a good thing.  A right thing.

I spoke to a Mother I know on Friday night who was compelled to meet her little boy at the bus stop instead of waiting for him to come into the house on his own because those few extra minutes without him next to her was just too much to bear.  My cousin wrote he had to stop himself from returning to his daughter’s school this morning for one more hug.  I could barely let mine go today. And  none of that is wrong.  It is natural. It is the promise of the possibility for healing and change that we combat what can only be called an act of pure evil with a massive outpouring of love.  Kindness.  Care and yes, smothering affection. As though we were and with enough of it are smothering the flame of evil and hurt burning in those that would commit such atrocities against the very best of us.  There is nothing more right than that.

I hold firm that though I do not and though none of us may ever really know the reasons for last Friday or for any of the other tragedies that occur far too often, that the root of it all is not one gun, one law, one doctor or one game but rather the culture of violence,  tolerance for cruelty and ignorance of illness we have allowed to grow like an insidious vine, cutting off the beauty and life to our most prized flower.  Like the vine, it is not enough to trim it back when it becomes an issue for it only returns, stronger than ever, hell-bent on accomplishing its task.  We must dig it out.  Destroy each fiber and then, as any good gardener must, check and re-check to ensure it never, ever returns.  We have to end this and more than the ending we must care…with tender and vigilant dedication care and cultivate the best we have among us, the children, the future of who we are.  We must provide help where help is needed, be aware of those struggling among us and protect what we old most dear.  Changes must me made.  And change will come.  I believe that. When the grieving as a nation abates from acute shock to an ache and before we file this away as something that happened once upon a time, change must occur.

For now, for today, for many tomorrows we will grieve.  For some the grief will never end.  For them, I will pray.

December 14, 2012

The Catalyst.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 pm by openendedcomment

This is not going to be a popular post and at this point I just don’t care.  I can’t change what occurs in every other household but I can damn well make decisions in my own regarding my own family and my own children when it comes to something I know to be true to the very fiber of my being.

For months now my husband and I have made the decision that in this home and for our four children, violence is not tolerated, not allowed and not welcomed.  We do not allow them to watch violent movies.  We do not allow violent video games of any sort.  We did meet all sorts of resistance from them when we made this choice but at the end of the day it is not their decision, it is ours.  Just as they are not raising themselves but rather it is we who have the honor and the privilege of raising them,  we are not here to be their best friends but to ensure their safety, health, education and to provide love and guidance whether they like it or not.  We are the parents and that is our role.  Period.

I know that most parents of 9, 11, 13 and 16 year olds allow Halo and Modern Warcraft and all sorts of other games.  I know that almost every single one of their friends play these games.  There was a brief time when we too allowed this.  I justified it with the constant barrage of really, truly amazing parents I know being seemingly fine with it.  Parents with good, no great children that are a part of our lives being allowed to and seeing that they are weren’t affected.  I was an idiot and it ranks right up there with the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a Mother.  Before anyone is overly offended, let me be clear:  Your choices for your children are yours…but mine…mine for mine are just that.  Mine.  My instinct told me no, but societal norm allowed me to say yes and it will take me a long time to forgive myself for that.

Our catalyst was the Aurora, Colorado, massacre.  I watched the news coverage and saw an anchor go from somber reporting of a four-year old killed in her Mother’s arms to a story regarding Lindsay Lohan in under ten seconds.  Within seven hours of the tragedy, she and we moved on.  The headlines on MSNBC and CNN did not last an entire day at the top of the news sites.  They were there, but buried beneath election and celebrity news.  The thought and worse yet the reality that our culture is one in which such soul-crushing pain and violence can be brushed aside within a news cycle is something I can’t comprehend and it boggles my mind that any human being can find this acceptable.  The worst part of this is knowing that children, my children, are being raised in a place and in a mind-set of this kind of life-altering tragedy being commonplace and therefore acceptable…sad, but acceptable.  Painful, but a part of Modern America.  No.  No way am I going to accept that we as a culture can be faced with and can move forward from this kind of thing numb to it all.  How ingrained in our world is the loss of innocent life that we no longer are shocked by it?

I am not a law-maker and I don’t have a time machine.  I can’t change the access to guns and the laws governing them (though I can damn well try to and make a great deal of noise doing so)  I can’t go back in time and raise my children in a place before Columbine…Virginia Tech…Aurora…Oregon…today.  I do not have the ability to raise children who are unaware of such tragedy, who do not accept mass murder of children and “shooter” drills in their school as par for the course.  No matter how much I wish and regret that it is so, no matter that is actually sickens me that this is the case, there is not a damn thing I can do to keep them from accepting this as a part of life.  But I can do something.  I have to do something.  At the very least I may endeavor to maintain any shred of innocence they may have left, these children of mine.  I can hold them closer to childhood, a place this fear should never touch. I can do my utmost to allow them to feel outrage, shock and pain at an act which is the very definition of these things.  I can do that by not exposing them to blood, murder, death and the ending of life on a daily basis through games…winning by the kill…for it is not a game.  It is not entertainment.  It is not normal.  It is not even tolerable and it is not something that anyone, especially a child should be numb to.  To allow it to be so is a tragedy unlike any other imaginable.  To stand idly by and believe that constant exposure to violent death will not affect young minds is, to me, inane at best.  Of course if affects them.  Everything they hear, see, taste and touch affects them.  Why do we attempt to instill our values in our children if not to have them live those values?  Why do we speak to them of love and tolerance and friendship if that is not what we wish?  And if that is true how do we go from that to having them run off to the basement or their rooms to gleefully slaughter enemy soldiers in a virtual world and then fail to see the sickening irony of it all?  And no,  I do not feel that today or any of these  tragedies we have faced in such close proximity are caused by video games or by movies…but the pervasive culture of violence we are raising our children and young adults in can no longer be ignored.  My God, we have got to wake up.

The pain…the unthinkable, unimaginable and overwhelmingly unbearable pain so many are facing tonight and all of the nights to come…I can’t begin to say I understand the depth of this.  I can pray for their healing, pray for it to never happen again.  I can cry and I have cried untold tears this afternoon and evening.  I can feel but I cannot begin to understand.  None of us do and God willing, none will.  It is not the fault of any parent of any child who does these things.  It is not the fault of a game or a movie.  It is not the fault of a law.  But, when so many tragedies continue to occur here and not elsewhere…not to this degree…not with this kind of regularity…when this undeniable truth is faced, it is time we begin to take notice and past time we follow with action.

They are our future.  They are our legacy.  I am not asking any other parent to change their own values and their own rules…that is not my place…I am merely changing my own.  I am doing so because maybe I’m not as alone in this as I think I am.  Maybe I’m not the only parent who has taken this stand her home.  And if I am not, I want you to know that you’re not alone either.  None of us are and maybe, just maybe it’s time we start acting like it.

October 23, 2012

Just Say No.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:36 pm by openendedcomment

Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent to teens is harder.  Being a parent to teens in this digital mass communication instant knowledge and self publishing world we live is insane.  I am sure that when I was a teenager my parents felt the same thing, but no matter how difficult 1989 was for my Mother and Father (the year I was 13) it is nothing compared to 2012.

I speak to my children constantly about the dangers of over-sharing online, that even though I have a face book account and a blog, I am also 36 years old and understand why and how privacy settings work.  I get that the internet is forever and delete doesn’t always mean “gone.”  I am able to take criticism and occasional snide comments and deal with them.  I don’t face bullying and memes and forwards of pictures that should never have been taken.  If I did, I would be able to handle it.  They can’t.  They may think they are old enough and they may tell me they can take it and that they understand, but really, they don’t and no amount of privacy settings or firewalls of Mom-Security is going to protect them from the cruelty of other kids online.  Going even further, I will not allow them the opportunity to be sucked into the cruelty that takes place intentionally or passively towards others in these forums. My unwillingness to allow for this has earned me the title of “the meanest Mom of all their friends.”  There are times it bothers me; times I question my rigid stance on these issues and there are times like now I’m reminded that (the mean Mom) is exactly who I ought to be.

My sixteen year old son suffers my vigilant self far better than my thirteen year old daughter.  He too requires some monitoring, but he doesn’t really care.  He doesn’t want to be so visible and “involved”…for her, it’s an entirely different story.

Last week there was an incident at my daughter’s middle school.  Hundreds of kids in sixth through eighth grade were on sites of “Memes” created about and at other students at their school.  They got the idea from the high school page.  Middle schoolers want to be like high schoolers.  That much, at least,  remains the same through the decades.  What also remains the same is the ability of high school students to recognize and self-police (to a point) abject cruelty.  They were still (in my opinion) rather idiotic in their postings, but not to the point of bullying and intentional pain the younger set brought it to.   The school got involved.  A girl was pushed to a breakdown, another came close.  Dozens were called out publicly as “nerds” “sluts”  “bastards” and “geeks.”  Secrets were exposed and lives were irretrievably altered. The kids got spooked, but they did not stop.  They took down one site to put up another.  Again and again they did this.  People I know have children who were on these…children “liking” and “following”  and some even commenting on this sad display of unchecked freedom not fit or designed for such emotionally immature beings.  I did not call these parents, the ones I knew, though I was tempted.  The school did send a letter (not at my urging but I was glad to see it) and I hope that it was read.  I hope those parents actually did what they were asked to do by the administrators and looked at what their children were and are doing.  I hope that now that they know, they set those accounts to feed back to their own to keep tabs if not  take them down entirely, as I wish more would do.

It’s tempting and it is so easy.  So simple to think that “everyone” is doing it and “all” the other kids their age have smart phones and face book and twitter and instagram and e-mail…so easy to tell yourself as a parent that you’re “invading their privacy” by reading the text messages and IMs and scanning the accounts…so damn time-consuming to even attempt to keep up with the constant barrage of communication from and to your kids on top of your own.  I know.  I get it, I’ve been there and I’ve failed, too.

But we have to stop.  We have to start.  We have got to pay attention.  My children don’t have Facebook.  My daughter has tried a few times and I’ve always caught it.  I have friends who think I should let her and just monitor it.  Well, I don’t agree.  Each child is different and my child isn’t ready for this step.  It was proven again less than a week ago.  It is a big deal and a big risk and I’m not willing to risk her.  Not yet.  I do know that I can’t avoid it forever and that it is a part of our new reality so I do make some concessions.  She does have email, and it copies to me as does instagram.  One violation and it’s gone.  My kids can’t use a computer unless they sign in and I do have tracking software.  Computers are not used behind closed doors in our home.  My kids know I read their text messages.  On my account, so deleting is pointless.  If they write or send things that aren’t within our family value set, they lose the phone.   I’m not perfect in this and I do occasionally let my guard down.  Tonight I was reminded again why I can not do that.

After the news there was a story on Dateline, a show I don’t normally watch.  It was a story of a girl bullied so badly online that she took her own life.  It was a story we’ve heard too many times.  These are fragile years we are entering, my daughter and me.  I know too well the intensity of emotion that comes with the journey from child to woman.  The tears and the agony; the love and the heartache.  The way your emotions at such a fleeting and ever-ending onslaught of new experiences and discoveries of and in yourself can lead to utter ignorance of consequences and danger…and I know that for so many I love and loved it was a time that tested their souls.  Some did not make it through.  I know that it was hard enough when there was a moment to get away, a safe place where alone existed…and I know that for her and for all of them now, in this time, that alone is a theory…a nice idea, but not something they truly understand.  Everyone is a swipe and a face time away.  A ping of a new message and a flash of a comment made.  That in this so very egocentric time that is the teen years the pictures and the moments shared are not always to be thought through and considered…and it is that which makes me, this mean, mean Mother denying her what “everyone” else has who will continue to be vigilant in protecting her from herself.  As all parents do to one degree or another.  We all keep our children from adult situations and dangerous things as much as we are able for as long as we are capable.  This is no different.

I have so little time.  Four and a half short years and she will be on her way.  For that time and for these months I will make her crazy, but I will keep her safe.  I will, as the years move forward, release my grip and allow her more space, more privleges…but I will never turn a blind eye.   I can’t.  No matter the title at the bottom of any e-mail I send, this is my job.  The pain in that Mother’s eyes tonight on my television screen, describing what her daughter read each and every day…I can’t help but wonder how many more Mothers and Fathers and Daughters and Sons are feeling that now…at this moment…how much could be helped if not stopped by more parents demanding a password and reading what is there for the rest of the world to see?  It may not save a life to read your child’s phone tonight and it may not make the world better to know who they are following or what they commented on today, but if it could, would you?  I promise you I will.

October 9, 2012

Hockey Mom.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 12:13 pm by openendedcomment

For the past three nights I’ve watched my son be judged.  A panel of experts, clip-boards in hand, have sat on a  cold metal bench and scored him on his skill and his stride.  I have held my breath, encouraged his performance, felt overwhelming pride in how far he has come and the gains he has made and more than once I’ve cringed when he’s had a move that was les than stellar…wondering if they too noticed, hoping they were focused on some other Mother’s son for those few seconds in time.  I’ve looked into their faces…those Mothers and Fathers all pressed to the glass (the ones that could bear to watch) trying desperately not to look overly concerned while biting their tongues raw…many my friends and easily some of the best people I know, and I know we’re all in this together.

My middle son plays hockey.  Try-outs are a part of the process. No different from many other sports and activities, dance, soccer, football, voice or theatre…to make the cut you have to shine and you have to be judged.  And as a parent, seeing my child judged is one of the most difficult things I do.  I want to run over to those clip-board wielding people whom I try to avoid even eye contact with and explain to them his heart.   I want them to know that the effort he puts forth is beyond anything I’ve ever seen…certainly beyond what I’ve ever managed to do.  For me it was always easy.  If I wanted to do something, I tried out and I made the team or got the part.  If I wanted an “A” I got an A.  I never really had to try.  These “try-outs”, twenty odd years ago, were a formality.  A step I had to take, not a hurdle to leap.  I learned that lesson, that not everything is easy, much later.  I suppose in many ways too much later. I learned it the hard way.  In various areas of my life as of late I’ve not been able to get to my desired goal.  This is new to me and I’m not very good at dealing with it.  I need to refocus and regroup but I’ve been so focused on the fact that something didn’t work for me that I was at a stand-still.  I was being judged by life in general and my scores sucked.  I never learned the lessons my children know so well…and it dawned on me that it was about damn time I started figuring it out.

It is that knowledge, that this is indeed something he and they will have to know and have to face throughout their lives that makes the whole process of watching my little boy be evaluated a bit easier to take.  I know that regardless of how he does or where he lands that he will have pride in knowing he gave it his all to get there.  I know no matter what team he makes that he will approach the season and the next year’s try-outs with renewed determination to be better…to try even harder still. 

Some people have told me that I’m putting undue pressure on my children in encouraging them to be their best or in allowing them to participate in such competitive sports.  I disagree.  There are a myriad of reasons that I feel make these activities not only good but necessary.  The friendships, the self-confidence, the academic effects, the character and the kindness, he is as concerned with how his friends are faring through these evaluations as he is with himself.  He is thrilled when one moves up and feels terrible if someone is brought down.  The bonds these boys are forming are without question a good thing.  When it comes to the encouragement my husband and I give to do well, I believe I am doing them a disservice as a parent to not encourage them to strive to reach the height of what is possible and to attempt even when success is a reach as opposed to the given outcome.  I know  that when they excel it will mean more and instill greater confidence because it was hard, not despite it.  I am endeavoring to raise the type of children our world will need in the generations to come.  The ones that never quit.  The ones that know excellence is an obligation, not a decision.  The future that will understand that each effort doesn’t deliver the desired results and that there will always be someone better and sometimes that just doesn’t matter. 

Last night, watching him strip off that pinny soaked in sweat and effort, I felt ashamed.  I’d been wallowing in the pity and the excuses of not hitting my mark.  Meanwhile, this little bundle of sheer will who should have been exhausted was busy explaining what he could correct for his next skate, bound and determined to try even harder the next round.  I helped make him that way and now the teacher has become the student.  In helping them become these people, they’re teaching me to do it, too.  I’m getting better.  I may not have hit my goal this time around, but I’m laser focused on making sure that it doesn’t happen again.

August 19, 2012

A moment for grace.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 1:00 pm by openendedcomment

Yesterday morning we brought our children to a cemetery.  To the grave of their Grandmother, exactly one week after her passing.  We had made a decision, and I say “we” as all four children were allowed to make their own decision regarding it, to not have them attend the formal wake and funeral.  I struggled with what others would think of us for not having them there.  His family, friends, siblings and even her, his Mother, what she would think of their absence.  I no longer have any doubts.  It was the absolute right decision.

Our children did it their way as was their right and our obligation as their parents to allow.  They had been to a funeral only weeks before and they knew it wasn’t what they wanted to experience.  Funerals are for the living; our way to find closure and peace and to a certain degree our deep-seeded sense of social and familial obligation rooted in centuries of tradition.  Especially for our Catholic group.  The mass and the prayers are for us, the last rites and the confessions are for the departed.  I believe their peace and their closure is complete long before the pall bearers and processions.

They said their good-byes through the innocence and love that only children are capable of expressing.  They did so without the confines of proper etiquette and without the scrutiny of second and third cousins eyes on them, there to witness their pain.  They came in shorts and sneakers, bearing little hand-written notes and the flowers they chose, one left a key chain he had meant to give her on her next birthday, formed with his own hands.  They walked to her place of rest and gently set them at her feet.  They prayed their own prayers, took their own time and though they did cry what seemed a river tears there were also smiles of remembrance.  My husband led them in a Hail Mary, her favorite prayer.  They sat down, in front of dirt not yet covered in sod in a little circle of love surrounding the Nonni they had known and asked the questions any child would ask if granted the opportunity.  We answered as we could and they accepted as children do.

Then, as we prepared to leave, one returned.  He placed his hand in the soft soil covering her and pressed to make his mark.  The other three followed his lead, etching messages under their little prints.  We love you, we miss you, smiley faces and hearts pressed into the soil soon to be covered with sod and a stone.  Their own tribute, something we who have been through far too many burials would never think to do.  And that, that is what made it so perfect, so right.  It was their peace, their closure and their love left with her without our advice and void of our traditions.

As it should be.  Their experiences are not ours and their memories, forever to be locked in through the eyes of a child will never be what ours were.  Perhaps this is what I needed to learn, that children should never be placed in adult situations, not because they have no place there but because by doing so we remove the beauty of their ignorance.  We take away their ability to cope and to grieve as they need to, not as we think they should.  And isn’t that something we could all take a lesson from?  To navigate through difficult times as we need to and not as we are told we should.  My four little teachers are wise not beyond but because of their years.