I’m going to be so proud to say I’m from Boston

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Several years ago, I admitted that it had taken me a long time to understand what people meant when they said their children were “their teachers.”  I finally understood.  And this past week I have learned anew what that means.  Over and over again, the things my children say and see startle me with their truth.  I have an endless appetite for their perspective, filtered through a lens so free of assumption and bias as to contain revelations.

Watching Grace and Whit take in the Marathon bombings and then the wild, intense events of Friday was both deeply touching to me and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.  For the Huffington Post, I wrote about what Friday morning was like.  It was surreal.  We woke up to a world that felt jaggedly separate from real life, to photographs of familiar streets deserted except for humvees and hundreds of police officers with long guns and heavy body armor, to an eerie silence punctuated by sirens and gunshots (we were able to hear the shots in Watertown from my open office window).

Friday night, exhausted from waiting and uncertainty, we sat down to dinner as a family.  As she often does, Grace said grace.  And her words moved me to tears.  It seemed like an adult was speaking.  She offered thanks to and asked for protection for all the policemen and doctors and first responders.  She asked for grace for those hurt and for the families of those who had died.  And then she said, “I feel really sad that it takes a tragedy like this to see all the good people and beautiful things in our life.”  My head jerked up, tears spilled down my cheeks, and I squeezed her hand.

The kids went to bed in one room, as they have several nights this week.  I tucked them into Whit’s bottom bunk together to read, and then returned to my desk.  A few minutes later, through the open door, I heard Grace say to Whit, “You know, you have to remember, that for every one evil person, there are ten good ones.  At least.”

On Saturday morning, the first thing we did was get in the car to go to our favorite breakfast spot, a diner in Watertown which had been at the center of the action on Friday.  The team from CNN was standing in front of it at one point.  I was happy to see that there was a line, that others, like us, had the impulse to go be in the world that we had feared just yesterday, to return with our business, our energy, our money to places that had suffered during the lockdown.

Whit, mumbling through a mouthful of chocolate chip pancake, threw his two most awful words at the attackers.  “They’re donkeyholes,” he said.  “Tionaries.”  (A few weeks ago he pronounced someone a “dictionary without the tionary,” and that second word has become his favorite sort-of-bad word.)

“Russia must be ashamed of them,” Grace added from across the table.  I nodded at her.  And later she offered, “When we go to Storyland or anywhere that’s not here, and people ask where we’re from, I’m going to be so proud to say Boston.  I know people will think: oh, that’s a strong city.”

After breakfast we came home and made brownies to bring to our local police station.  Grace made a thank-you card as the brownies baked.  Other than asking which color stripe came first in the flag (which I had to look up; the answer is red), she wrote it all without any prompting.  When the brownies had cooled off, we went to the police station.  We drove past Norfolk Street, and I felt the chill of something run up my spine, a reminder that even the most intensely familiar things, places, and people can contain unknowable, possibly terrifying terrain.

And then we went home for lunch with Matt and Whit, a haircut, a stop at the drycleaner, some family reading curled up on the couch.  All afternoon the air was heavy with my sense of the gossamer veil between this life and what we most fear, with my awareness of how much we take for granted.  As I have done so many times in my life, I squeezed my eyes shut and swore never to forget what a privilege it is, this normal, unexceptional life.  I whispered fiercely to myself: i thank you god for this most amazing day. 

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16 Comments

  1. Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    As they have all week, your words bring smiles and tears in equal measure. I am sorry that we had to learn the lessons we have learned in the way we have but I agree with Grace. This has taught us about the beauty in people.

    admin Reply:

    I agree with her too. And I’m torn between wishing she never had to learn these lessons and knowing she has to eventually, and being proud that that is her reaction. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! xox

  2. Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    All four of you have been in my heart this week, and that your extraordinary children would feel and say these things is, to be honest, no surprise.

    Still, I’m so happy to read this, and hope it goes far and wide…

    Love,

    Christa

    PS. “tionary” is the perfect word. Whit lives up to his name, once again.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank you. It is truly hilarious (and whit-ty) when he whispers under his breath in aggravation, “Ugh. What a tionary.”

  3. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    An amazing, beautiful post Lindsey. I agree with Grace — I’m so proud to call Boston my home city.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you. xoxo

  4. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I love this. Grace’s words are perfect.

  5. Christina Bonney
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Grace is wise beyond her years and Whit is amazing. Reading this brought a lump to my throat. I was able to shield my kids from what happened last week, but I may not be so lucky next time (unfortunately, I know there WILL be a next time). I hope I (and my kids) are able to handle it as gracefully as you and your did. (((HUGS)))

    And I think I need to add “tionary” to my lexicon now. 😉

    admin Reply:

    It’s not all graceful, I assure you 🙂

    I’m going to start a campaign to insert “tionary” into the English language.

    xox

  6. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Both of your children are so wise. They have the ability to reflect and to be grateful, and those are abilities that will create happier lives for everyone around them.

  7. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    What beautiful old souled young people you have! Their kindness and sensitivity gives me hope in hard times. I am sure you are as proud of them as you are of your strong, vibrant city.

    admin Reply:

    I am proud of them. Thank you for your kind words! xox

  8. Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Sigh. I think its beautiful that your daughter made that card. I think it’s beautiful everything she said in her grace, especially, so especially the part about “I feel really sad that it takes a tragedy like this to see all the good people and beautiful things in our life.” because that is SO true.

    admin Reply:

    So true. And so awful at the same time … but I guess better to see the good things, in a situation like this, than not, right? xo

  9. Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Wow, it never ceases to me amaze me how perceptive and insightful kids can be. What astonishing words from Grace (though, perhaps NOT astonishing at all!). Love this post. Thanks, Lindsey, for continuing to offer your perspective on this tragedy. xox

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. xox

  10. Kristin H. Macomber
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    My boys are older, but somehow, they too know what to do, what to say. My college sophomore and I had a back and forth email-fest of “things that in the midst of the horror are really, really sweet,” including photos of therapy dogs at the hospitals, and swat-team guys delivering milk to locked-down residents in Watertown.

    Love that diner! Love that you love it too!

    admin Reply:

    Oh, I gasped with wonder and happiness when you said that about your son. Yes, yes, and YES. May I be doing that with these two when they’re in college. Wonderful. xox

  11. John Russell
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow once again Grace and Whit continue to amaze Marti and I. I felt so bad for Grace that friday when she and I talked. How can a 10 year old process all of this yet our deep thinking Grace does. My buddy Whit you never know what will come out of his mouth but I know he has thought it thru. The only difference with him than most of us,he does it faster.

    Your great parents Lindsey and Matt, your children reflect who the two of you are.

    We are very proud grandparents

    admin Reply:

    I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see you commenting here. Thank you so, so much, John. xoxo

  12. Anon
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Know this:

    Your dear children are the caring, empathetic people that they are because of their phenomenal mother. You have lived and modeled caring and compassion for each and both of them from the day that they were born.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for saying this. xoxo

  13. Margaret
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful, beautiful, again (and again, and again)!!! As I often do, I read this to my children (13 and 10) and husband. They appreciated it too. Then, Wes (13) said “do they play Minecraft, or are they too perfect for that?” ( I see the merits of Minecraft but frown upon most video/computer games, period). I assured him that they do, but with strict rules/timing in place, and reminded him that no one is perfect and that I love him incredibly and that your blog and family are full of lessons and love that I want to bring to our family… They get it. : ). So glad you had some happy, ordinary moments this weekend, filled with gratitude and pride for your strong city!!

    admin Reply:

    I may need to write Wes a separate email about all the ways in which my children are NOT perfect. And yes, we do play Minecraft! 🙂 Yes, we have rules about where and when, and Whit whines about those rules a lot, but oh yes, we have screens around here!!

  14. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I live on the west coast, my cousin lives in Boston. Above everything else, I was nearly crippled by the thought of talking to my kids (3&4 y/o), of my cousin having to talk to her kids (5&10) about the harsh, cruel and scary reality that these unforgettable tragedies bring to the forefront. This post makes me feel, well, I guess better, that there is so much opportunity for kids to show their gracious, genuine, natural thoughts and words of (Boston) pride and gratitude toward the positive. I feel a little less helpless. Thanks for this post, thanks for being a great model for your children.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank YOU – it’s really nice to hear that, as it so often feels like I’m just stumbling and tripping. But yes, while I feel like I’ve begun telling them about tragedies because I don’t have a choice, it’s also been extraordinary to see that there are positive lessons and things that can come out of those conversations that (I hope) strengthen them as they move forward. xox

  15. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    “You know, you have to remember, that for every one evil person, there are ten good ones. At least.” – that is the best thing I have heard all week! And I love that Whit makes up swear words. I’ll look forward to that from my son too. 🙂

    admin Reply:

    I want to write a book of Whit’s Words. They are pretty interesting!! xox

  16. Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I am finally reading this now. I wanted to wait until I could truly absorb it and still, there is almost too much beauty in your, your kids, and your city. Boston IS a strong city as are the 4 of you. Thank you for sharing this raw experience with such a strong message of hope.