April 17, 2013

ON A DARK DAY


“Hi, Jonah’s Mommy,” they whispered as I entered the classroom. 
“Hi, everyone,” I said quietly with a little wink directed at Jonah.

When I dropped him off at school in the morning, I asked his teacher Mrs. S if she needed any volunteers later in the day. I have volunteered a few times… and though it almost inevitably means my son will misbehave more than usual (I suspect because he’s 5, and is excited that I’m there and therefore, “showing off”), I had an urge to be there… Even if it meant watching Jonah squirm when he should be listening, or me witnessing a flaw in the school and “the system.”

While the children finished story time, my assignment was to cut paper and put together packets for Earth Day. How appropriate…  They will draw their world in the circle I cut out…

It was hard for me not to see this as a metaphor. After watching the coverage from the Boston Bombings, I had a fleeting thought… A thought that shocked me and unnerved me for even having it escape my conscious:

Why are these heinous acts of violence happening (again) and why would I ever want to bring another child into this universe?

My eyes popped the second I thought it. Me?? Not bring another child on to this earth? I have always wanted more than one child… Two, three, heck, even four. I love children. I want a family. A BIG family. I love being a mother and nothing, not war, or natural disasters, or even the tragedies on 9/11 or the deranged and unthinkable acts in Newtown, has EVER made me question whether it was fair or not to bring a child into the world…

But last night, there I was. Flooded with the darkest and most dismal thought I think I’ve ever (consciously) had.

“Jonah’s mommy, um, my mommy has a friend who’s name is also Jennifer,” one little girl said tapping my shoulder.
“It’s a pretty cool, name, huh?” I said… only to be interrupted with:
“Um, Jonah’s mommy, does Jonah want to go trick o’ treating with me again on Halloween?” said another little girls (I’m not gonna lie, the little girls looooove them some Jonah.)
“That sounds like a plan,” I said, stacking the Earth packets in a pile.

It was time for “Reading Buddies.” Every week, a 2nd grade class comes to read to their class. Jonah’s
buddy was a girl with a bob haircut and a face full of freckles. Some of the buddies seemed totally into the assignment … carefully explaining each word and speaking with animation and exaggeration. Not Jonah’s buddy. She stopped periodically to go chat with friends at another station. But he sat there anyway. Listening closely to her words… even when they trailed off.

Our home earth… I love…

It sat with me. These words. These children.  The boys and their eagerness to play basketball at recess... The girls and their barrettes... falling out of their hair and their mismatched leggings and tee shirts… The row of lunch boxes filled with meals carefully crafted and packed by a tired adult that morning… The calendar and clock on the board with clear-cut letters, numbers and pictures of seasons so they learn to tell time and why, someday, it will matter.  These things, being there, it made me happy and hopeful.

My fleeting thought has since left my body and I’m back to wanting to have another child pronto (Oy, I can totally hear P’s heart racing as he reads this. LOL). As cliche as it sounds, Monday’s event was sadly another reminder for me, though, that during a dark time, to turn to something bright for a reminder of the future. 

3 comments:

Gina said...

Beautifully written, Jennifer. I feel so much the same as you - I often wonder what sort of world I am raising my two little ones in, what sort of world we are handing over to them. All I can hope is that there are enough of us who bring our children into the world with love and raise them with compassion so that they grow up to greatly outnumber those who do evil things. Saying that...you should definitely have another baby. Or three. ;-)

Hayley Kaplan said...

I think of my fear of flying and how I remind myself that more cars crash than airplanes etc.

The same applies to what you write about. Thank goodness Boston, 911, teen suicides etc are not the majority of what goes on in the world. There are many precious and wonderful moments for many of us in between the dark ones.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane - I loved volunteering in my kids classrooms when they were little. Some great moments in time that went by way too quickly.

Matt Steiner said...

Hi Jen, this definitely struck a chord with me. If Jack and I eventually wind up with kids, it's going to be a super-deliberate decision (esp. due to all of the challenges and delays associated with adoption and surrogacy). Jack and I often talk about our own perilous experiences with the world/family, and we wonder if we want to bring a child into the mix - I can't imagine how painful it must feel to watch our children mature and lose their innocence and trust in the adult world.