Tag Archives: Dev

The Fabulous Night That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen

After taking care of my nephews all day, I intended to spend last Thursday night doing two things: finishing an article on worldbuilding and revising three more chapters of Breath of Stone.

Sometimes life goes sideways. And sometimes the unexpected sideways is the best damn thing you couldn’t have planned.

My son Dev had bought tickets for himself, his friend, and his friend’s fiancé to a night with Kevin Smith in Boulder, Colorado. He has been looking forward to this so much. But when I got home from nephew-care, Dev had just heard from his friend: the fiancé was throwing-up-sick so they wouldn’t be going.

I looked at the clock—it was just barely past six o’clock—and figured I could get him there on time. So I threw on clothes more acceptable than yoga pants and sweatshirt, made sure the pups were fed and cared for, and got us on the road before 6:15pm.

Now… understand I had but the most basic knowledge of Kevin Smith when I pulled out of the driveway that night. Yeah, I knew there was a comic book show (an unavoidable tidbit if one watches The Walking Dead), and I’d seen a couple films. But I wasn’t going into this as a fan. I was instead going with my son because he’d already tried and failed to get another buddy to go on such short notice (we’re still new to Colorado, so who we know is a rather small list), and I didn’t want him to just go alone.

I mean, I figured the night wouldn’t completely suck—if nothing else, my adult son and I would have some rare time together—but my expectations weren’t much higher than that.

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So What Do We Tell the Children?

A word before the start: Y’all come here with your own religious and political beliefs, and I think that’s marvelous. I ask you to remember, should you bring up or respond to something religious or political here, you’re sitting in my living room with my guests, and I treat all my guests with equal respect in the expectation all my guests will do the same. 🙂

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My son, age 5

My son was almost five years old on September 11, 2001. Among the gazillion concerns and fears of the ensuing days was a very important one: how do I balance my need to know what’s happening with the need to protect my son? And how do I teach my son about what’s happening with scaring him or, on the flipside, leaving him ignorant?

“Balance” is the key here. Recently, Maggie Hogarth shared her thoughts on how a sheltered childhood altered her view of the world in negative ways, and there is much there that applies to this discussion.

While I wanted to hide everything from my son—everything! Anything that would disrupt his joy and happiness!—it wasn’t at all a realistic or responsible choice. At the same time, I needed to stay informed, especially in those first few days. Remember, it wasn’t known if the attacks were isolated or, shall we say, introductory. And no one knew the extent to which our military would be mobilized, if there’d be a new draft, if the government was going to institute new restrictions, if survivors were going to be found…

Yesterday, I found myself in a vaguely similar situation with my nephews. I say, “vaguely” because the attacks in Lebanon and France happened on the other side of the ocean, so the level of reactive fear was much lower. But there remained my need to know what was happening, to stay in touch with a couple people, and so forth. It all tossed me back to parenting post-9/11.

I don’t think there is an absolute and universal “right” choice because there are so many variables. The temperament and maturity of the child. The existing knowledge base. The willingness and ability of the parent to make age-appropriate explanations. The potential impact of the event on daily life. The importance of current events to the family. On and on and on.

So I’m not coming from the perspective of some childhood expert wanting to tell everyone the One True Way to communicate with all children in the aftermath of any and all terrible events. I’m just sharing what worked for me, to the best of my memory.

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Five Fonts of Happiness

Mmm… Chinese food…

Ahem.

Five things that make me happy. Very well.

First, that mention of Chinese food does indeed make me happy. Mentioning Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, Indian and European food makes me happy, too. I love food. I adore food. I don’t consider myself a foodie, or a great cook, or even a discerning eater. But taste and scent and texture—and sharing that experience with others—is a great joy. I remember the immense pleasure of eating fresh cilantro atop carne asada for the first time. I can recall the sweet tang of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with feta and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. My mouth waters over what I was served at an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City, though I can’t tell you what it was called. The fried green tomatoes and chutney I ate in Charleston were a delight. Tarragon chicken. Burgers and onion rings. Cannelloni con asparagi. Moo shu. Noodles with butter, garlic and oregano. Sweet corn. Beef barley stew. Cheesecake. Naan. Fried mushrooms. Hummus. French fries. Marinara. Steaks. Oh, yes, steaks. Food makes me smile from the inside out.

Unless it involves fish, and then I really don’t want anything to do with it.

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