There are times when I feel like the worst of moms, and times when I feel like I'm doing something right, and times when I am just fricking grateful that the kids have stumbled onto something wonderful on their own.
My little one, having a hard time falling asleep, has begun to look for tools, and figured out that writing about the day or drawing pictures in a notebook seems to help calm monkey mind.
My big one has followed suit. Now, at bedtime, I find them sprawled across one of the others' beds writing in their journals and drawing pictures.
I know. It's wonderful, right? And I have permission to read them, which is even better. It's like that lovely moment in the book Peter Pan, when Mrs. Darling tidies up her children's minds. "It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the net morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on." (James Barrie.)
So, my kids mostly seem to have ordinary kid thoughts, except for the disability we have to cope with. And except for Philando Castile. Both children's journals regularly touch on him and his death at Officer Yanez' hands. My little one is worried about what it will be like to go to school without him there. And who will replace him? What will that be like, having someone take his place? My big one is upset that Officer Yanez was put back in uniform and given a desk job. (Yes, we've raised a news junkie, of course.) "He didn't even follow proper protocol. Phil is dead because that officer didn't do his job right and because he was scared."
I can't imagine what it must be like for Diamond Reynolds, as her little one gets ready for school. Or for our other cafeteria worker, Vanessa. Or for the teachers, preparing for 502 little kids, some who probably don't know yet. (Some who may not care. Some who will, very much.) At the Saint Anthony City Council meeting two nights ago, one co-worker of Phil's said that his four-year-old nephew said he wanted to paint his face white so that the police wouldn't kill him and people wouldn't hate him. Shades of The Bluest Eye. This stuff affects kids so differently than it does grownups, and believe me, it's affecting a lot of us grownups pretty hard.
This world is hard. And my kids--all our kids--are in the midst of this world. I hope that, for them as for me, the gift of writing, analyzing, turning events into stories or commentary or simply dumping it onto the page, will prove a tool for resilience, and ultimately a tool to create positive change, not just for themselves, for all of us. For the whole world.