I hosted a little party for my two baby girls today, noteworthy because it is the first successful party I've ever hosted. There must be something helpful about the presence of toddlers that enables people to socialize more freely. Adult parties these days seem so stiff when compared to baby bashes.
Our Christmas party featured a felt Christmas tree with felt baubles the kids stuck on and moved around, plus red and green home-made play dough and a big pile of Christmas books.
They had a ball!
Not one temper tantrum was to be found; Santa would be so proud.
It wasn't until after the last parent had packed up the last kid, and I sat looking at the scattered nativity figurines and cookie crumbs ground into the carpet, that P came in and told me the terrible news today.
A mass murder. So near our community.
In a kindergarten.
I was in middle school when the Columbine murders happened (and these are not just shootings, they are murders) and, my God, the impact on me is different. Is it my age? Is it parenthood? I just keep thinking about my babies walking into school one day and not coming back out.
My precious babies.
A few weeks ago I had a serious struggle with the decision to introduce formula into K's little life and body. My brain knows that formula is healthy and fine for babies. In many cases, it saves lives and we are blessed to live in an age when things like formula are readily available for women and babies who need it.
But my heart feels so defeated.
There was something so special about looking at her perfect, strong, adorable little body and knowing that every single atom of her literally came from me. That fat roll on her thigh. That full-face smile. That intelligence when she watches us talk. God created her, but I made her, every piece -- and it hasn't been all that easy.
As it turns out, I'm one of those women who needs formula. There isn't enough of me to go around and once Hurricane Sandy wiped out all of our frozen food, including more than 60 oz of breastmilk, something had to give. Honestly, I'm still struggling with it, even though K is also eating baby food and taking great joy and interest in tasting many new things. Rationally, formula is just a food that she needs and I have the luxury to offer her. Emotionally...that's another issue.
That's one child.
The other child amazes and amuses me with two-year-old intelligence. I remember a couple of months ago when she used the term "kind of" for the first time.
"That one looks like a ducky, Mama."
"Oh, you think it looks like a duck?"
I was blown away. I mean, this is a girl who can't count past 9 with much accuracy, who says "nugget chickens" instead of chicken nuggets, who didn't know what a "party" was until today (and even now I suspect she just thinks it is synonymous with "cake"). She still struggling with the concept of "tomorrow" and yet she understands the subtle use of "kind of."
No wonder she needs naps. I can't even imagine the number of brand new things she learns in one day -- and the only way I have even the slightest idea is because she is so verbal. Presumably K is learning at the same incredible rate (or even higher) but she just can't communicate it to me.
And then I imagine them, my brilliant babies, made by me, walking in to school one day and not coming out.
Not. Coming. Out.
I have deliberately avoided the news. I got a few of the basic facts from P, and beyond that I'm repulsed by the interviews of child witnesses and victim parents. This is not entertainment.
But one thing keeps circling back around in my mind with greater and greater resonance: homeschooling.
Fear is not my only reason, but today it is a very compelling one.