Nearly two weeks ago we made the trip to the southern part of the state to pick up Jimmy from his step mom as it was the beginning of his spring vacation from school and he was coming to stay with us for the week. Aside from the 9 hours of driving required to get down there and back, it was a pretty awesome day as we hadn't had the chance to see him for a couple months. Once we got home that evening, he helped me get all the luggage in, the car cleaned out, and a fire started in the wood stove before we settled in for the evening; me in my chair and him with his mom on the couch (though he did take a few breaks to get on the floor and play with the dog). It wasn't long before Marilyn needed to go lay down (long trips like that wear her down pretty bad unfortunately) and he and I stayed up for awhile watching some TV and catching up on his hockey season and karate lessons. You know, man talk.
Now, I have to tell you that up until that point we still had snow...a lot of it! We have two driveways, one that's gravel and one that's not. The gravel one is steep and at the bottom there's really no place to put plowed snow so for the winter we shut it down and use the back driveway because once it freezes over it works great. However, what we didn't know and didn't think of when we moved up here is what happens in the spring. We now have a 1/3 mile mud run that we were trying to drive in and out of when we needed to go somewhere. The night we drove back in from getting Jimmy was the night it also became all but impassible. This left us with a serious issue and only one way to solve it...with a shovel. And solve it we did. Though it wasn't fun by any stretch of the imagination, Jimmy and I spent the better part of two days working and shoveling our asses off (and no it wasn't forced child labor. LOL) and finally got it so we could get our SUV in and out and keep us from getting trapped. It was a good lesson for him in doing things you don't want to do because they need to be done but I'll tell you this much; I learned that lesson a long damn time ago and hope by next year I have a tractor in the door yard so I don't have to repeat it! hahaha.
The rest of the week was pretty great. Jimmy spent time with his mom doing pottery, writing stories, doing arts and crafts, talking, and playing games. With me we went four wheeling, snow shoeing, played some catch with a baseball, and he ran the dog damn near into the ground throwing him tennis balls out in the field! In addition to shoveling he also helped me with firewood, laundry, dishes, and had no problem doing an hour of reading every day. He fell right into doing his chores and learned a valuable lesson....he can't put as much firewood in the wheelbarrow as I do and still expect to move it. :)
With all the fun and good that came of last week, there was of course, the bad. While it had nothing to do with him directly, I'm of course referring to the events that took place in Boston and also what happened in West, Texas. The explosion and deaths in Texas are much easier to explain to an 11 year old I think. While they are certainly tragic, as of the time I'm writing this, I haven't heard of any evidence that it was an intentional act. While it may be found that there were human errors that led to the fire and explosion that took place, I think it the mind of a child that simply correlates to an accident. When terrible things like that happen, if children have questions you can use the incident to promote valuable lessons if approached properly. That option is off that table when attacks such as that that took place in Boston occur.
Even now, with him not here, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how to explain to a child what took place in Boston. It's all the harder when the child only lives a couple of hours away from the location. At 11 years old I think we know some of what's going on but not all of it. Perhaps just enough to confuse us and that's what we ran in to. He understood that someone had set bombs at the marathon and that they were bad people but to answer why they did it it nearly impossible. Of course, for the first couple of days there weren't even any suspects which made those questions all the harder to answer. He had a few questions that we answered as best we could and I could see his mind working to try and put the pieces together. In all honesty I was doing the same thing he was every time I'd hear an update. By the end I'm still not 100% sure he was understanding it but then again I'm not sure most of us were. For me, my revelation that the world was going to hell was the 1993 Oklahoma City Bombing and at that point I was 10. It was hammered home with 9/11. I wonder, when he's 30, if he'll look back at this even and have the same thought. Of course, at that point we hadn't had school shootings on the scale we have recently so it's hard to say which will have the most impact.
For the evil we witnessed in Boston there was one caveat on Patriots Day and we made a point to show Jimmy. That was the good that was displayed by those around the events. All the people running in to harms way to help the injured. The first responders and the regular citizens, who not knowing if there were more bombs, rushed to the aid of complete strangers. All the blood donations the area hospitals received to the point they had to stop accepting any more. For the evil that was done to the persons killed and those who were injured, the good shown through in the actions of their fellow humans. If there's one thing a child understands it's hero's and you could see the admiration in Jimmy's eyes when we were explaining why these people were hero's.
So, what to make of last week. I think it's becoming an all too common theme that parents need to figure out a ways to explain such events to their children. All we can do is approach the questions with an open mind and answer them as honestly as we can. I think most importantly however, is to let them know that we will not let evil shut us down. Don't let it over take you or them. Rather than sitting and watching all the news coverage; take them outside to play, watch a ball game, go four wheeling, make some crafts, meet some new friends. The best way to conquer the evil meant to paralyze us is to look it dead in the eyes, tell it to Fuck Off , help those you can, and live your life with a smile.