Yesterday, I was sitting on the steps of our front porch, watching Willa and Henry play with their new friends who live 2 houses down. That family is fairly reserved, and the kids have been painfully shy until a few weeks ago. Suddenly, a switch has been flipped, and their 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son love to play with our kids. While the kids were tracing the hula hoop with chalk on the driveway, a commotion started down the street. Two cars were speeding along and honking. They stopped, side by side, in front of our house. One guy got out, the other yelled through the window, and drove off. Clearly they were not friends. The guy who was out of his car yelled for the guy to come back, using some words that none of those kids have heard before.
"Hey!" I heard myself yell, "you will NOT do this in front of these kids."
I was steady. I was powerful. I was protecting the kids, and the moment of sweetness we were all enjoying earlier. I did not think about it.
The guy (who was an adult), looked at me and mumbled, "sorry lady." Then he got in his car, yelled, "shut the hell up" and sped away.
The kids looked at me with their mouths open. I shrugged and said they must be having a very bad day. Willa asked if she should tell dad (who was in the basement). I said it was all over, and everyone was okay, so she didn't need to. But she slipped into the house anyway. She was obviously shaken that someone would talk to her mom like that.
I wasn't very troubled by the incident. It was over, we were all okay. But then I started thinking about the headlines last month when someone was killed in downtown GR over road rage. They didn't know each other. Someone was having a bad day, and it got worse in the blink of an eye for everyone involved. Illogical, random, and terrible.
Last night I watched the news. The first four stories:
- 5 year old hit by a car as he was crossing the street back from the ice cream truck
- 4 month old died in a home while sleeping, maybe with her mom on the couch
- 5 high school girls recovering after a terrible car crash
- college freshman dies at MSU, alcohol a suspected cause
This morning, I read that a woman who is a member of our church passed away last night after a long illness. Her children are in elementary school.
People I love are affected by disease and accidents, and illogical and random badness.
The weather has been beautiful this week. We're breaking records for warmth, and plants that have no business blooming in March are in full glory anyway. Still, I want to hide my little family away behind locked doors for a while. I want to color and bake with them, and never, ever let them go. I will not, of course. Willa is at school. Jim is at work. Henry and I will go for a long walk in a while. I will not let fear dictate my life. I do, however, admit the impulse to tuck them, and everyone safely in my pocket. I admit I wish I had the power to protect everyone from everything by yelling from my porch steps.