somebody’s babies

by humanmama on March 14, 2011

My kids and I drove to Michigan this week, just me, Helena (4), Lilly (not yet 2), the van (rrrgh), and the van’s DVD player. I’d like to say something for the record: Thank you, DVD player. We could not have survived those 7 hours without you.

There are definitely things that run across your mind when you’re driving by yourself for 7 hours (yes, it’s really a 5-hour drive) with two young children. The most benign thing that you think is “how bad would it really be if I let them out of their carseats for the remainder of the trip?” Especially crying, kvetching, screaming 22-month Lilly. In the end, you’ll be proud, I resisted the temptation. I kept picturing the time when I had passed a woman on the road driving with her great dane loose in the car, halfway in the front seat, drooling everywhere. She was pushing him in the face and obviously yelling at him while she tried to still drive with the remaining, non-shoving hand covered in drool. I thought if I let me kids loose it would be a lot like that, except for less dog hair. Oh, yeah, and it’s illegal. But illegality was not the real reason I didn’t let them loose. I just didn’t like the idea of shoving them by the face to get them out of the front seat. And all that drool.

Of course I would never shove my kids by the face. But there are definitely times that parenting involves a bit of force. Like when you grab the arm of a child not listening just before they run into the street. But what I’m talking about is loving force. Not hurting.

On the way up here I was listening to This American Life, a great, great, great radio program on NPR. And the program was about being “slow to action,” taking a long time to deal with something you should really deal with. And it was a good program but one part of it was about a child being abused. If you know me, you probably know I don’t watch scary movies, or even the news sometimes, because I just can’t get that stuff outta my mind. I don’t just feel bad for people, especially victims, especially children. I hurt for them. There’s this line from the book/movie The Green Mile, where the main character, John Coffey says:

Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?

That’s how I feel about other people’s pain. It’s so real to me, especially the pain of a child, it hurts me. Forever. So when I heard the beginning of this little segment on This American Life I knew already that I would pay for it. Of course, the story was redeeming in the end. The child who was so horribly abused grew up, plotted to kill the perpetrator, and then in the end met him at a mall and talked abut why, why did this happen? But the whole time I thought about the kid, when he was seven years old and being hurt so badly. What could I have done? What could anyone have done?

It’s hard to have my own children and see the bits of horrible violence in the world that affect me so much. Sometimes I watch them at night drifting off to sleep and concoct crazy schemes: how to make an impenetrable cloth to cover them with for protection. Wiring them with electricity so anyone who tried to harm them would receive a fatal electric shock. And I know that it’s crazy, but I know I would do anything to protect them. And I’m sure you would for your kids, too.

The last thing I think when I hear stories like these about rapists or child molesters or other disturbed and heinous people is this: one time, long ago, that person too was somebody’s baby. And maybe if that baby was held,cared for, and loved more, maybe that baby wouldn’t grow up to be sick, and terrible. That’s why I can’t watch the news. I just want to adopt everyone as babies before they turn out wrong.

It’s so wierd being on this small blue marble of a planet. Even when we think we’re different, we all began as somebody’s baby. So go hug yours.

Oh, and let me know if you develop an impenetrable fabric.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Maura March 15, 2011 at 11:19 am

I am totally on the same page as you. I have a hard time watching the news, or listening to those programs because the images literally haunt me for days, or months, sometimes even years.

I have not developed that fabric yet, but when I do I will let you know.

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aj April 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thanks Maura!! I will buy it asap. Actually I’ll preorder, just let me know :-)

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Charles March 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Mighty glad you made that trip- drool and all!

Not impenetrable, but you and your girls are covered by prayer each day. Pretty powerful – in an eternal kind of way…

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latest casino bonuses April 11, 2011 at 12:03 am

I like your writing style, and I’m hoping for more blog posts like this one.

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