What will my hands make today?
They are open and ready for anything.
I wonder what I can fit in them
and if I can grasp it or just give it a fling.
I have so much potential in what I can do.
They can open and close, they can wriggle and snap.
They can count and be crossed,
clutch and make words just like that.
In the palm of these hands,
they can hold your heart.
Always connected to you
back from my start.
Guardian angels at heaven’s gate,
keep me safe from dark of night.
Help me greet the shimmering dawn
with childlike hope and wonder.
Let me choose love where exists only hate,
and teach me to have faith beyond vision.
Guide me home and focus my eyes
on the good fortune around me.
It has been hard to breathe in the past two days without feeling a lump stuck in my chest. I have wept for the children, staff and community of Newtown, CT. So close to my home and my heart. As a teacher and a parent, I feel lost, confused and helpless. The details kept becoming more and more unimaginable as the hours went on. By the end of my work day Friday, I was crying in my classroom with my students telling them how much they are loved.
As stories now are being told of the extreme heroism of the staff and the students, I am inspired by them. A principal, teachers telling their students that they love them, and faculty shielding the children from horror. The first responders who encountered the sights and the staff at Danbury hospital who readied the trauma area for the patients who never came. This loss of life cannot have been in vain. Their amazing lives, and stories must stay alive for us to remember. We must always remember.
Tonight at bedtime in my house, I held my sons tight. I smelled them. That might sound odd, but have you ever just smelled your child. Placed your cheek to their cheek and inhaled their beautiful sweetness. I am not sure I have for a long time, but tonight I broke all the rules of bedtime. I rocked my youngest until he fell asleep in my arms. I had him locked in tight and our faces were pressed together. I felt his soft hair and his warm breath and I prayed that my children would always be safe from harm. I prayed that those teachers and children who are now angels, will watch over my children too.
Today’s To Do List:
1. Grade 54 Reading Logs
2. Work on pages of numerous manuscripts and writing
3. Plan out weekly menu
4. Take the perfect photo of kids for this years Christmas card
5. Start my 5-7 page paper on the topic “what makes a good short story?” for fiction class final
6. Send photos to relatives for annual family calendar
7. Make a to do list for the week
8. Tuck kids into bed where they fall happily asleep for the night
… Where does a crying toddler fit into the list? He is supposed to be dreaming in his bed of such delight like puppies and brightly colored books. If he does not go to bed, how will I ever get my list done. I have too much to do to deal with this right now.
Walking into his room to see the tear streaked face saying, “Mama.” I picked up the blankets, and animals from the floor where he had dropped them in frustration. I told him it was bedtime and he had to lay down and go to sleep. Staring up at me from his dark brown eyes he said nothing more. He simply put his two arms up to me.
Picking him up, he instantly placed his head to the left of my body, directly over my heartbeat and pointed one hand to the rocking chair in the corner of the room. I shifted him slightly and he wrapped his arms around my arms and then we sat together. He snuggled in close, but did not immediately close his eyes. Instead, he stared up at my eyes for what seemed like a long time. The list slowly started to reorganize itself. Some items dropped off completely, while others just moved down to other spots. Rocking along to the song in my head, “Silent Night,” I remembered the most important “To Do” item that I had.
1. Snuggle with kids for as long as they need.
When do you we lose our sense of questioning the world? I listen to my boys every day and their endless, and I mean endless questions. There is a constant line of questioning when we are getting up in the morning, when we are in the car, at nap time, bedtime and every other possible interlude in between. To us, it gets tiring.
“Why are the leaves falling off the trees?”, “Why do we have to put gas in the car?”, “What’s for dinner?”, “Why do I have to go to bed now?”, “Do you want a hot latte?”, “Where does the mail go when the mailman takes it?”, “How does the clock know what time it is?”… and so on.
To the kids credit however, there is the childish impulse to learn as much as they can about their world around them. Things that we take for granted every day are not missed by their eyes or their ears. Small snippets of conversation, books, and even musical lyrics are engrained in their heads. Little sponges.
As adults we often skim over these things in our multitasking world. If it is not on our list of things to do that will get us groceries bought, mortgage paid, clothes on back, and maybe a Saturday night out, then it is probably not going to be a priority.
At what point does our mind switch gears from sheer wonderment and imagination about the world around us and become goal driven devices? I am not sure which of these options is the best one to pursue. I am still trying to balance my childish whims with my adult responsibilities. I hope that I will always childish whims to balance.