The hour is late and
Occasionally I believe it’s important

There’s a mom I know

There’s a mom I know from Max’s preschool class. She has a seven year old girl, a four year old boy, another boy who’s almost two, and a daughter who was born just a few weeks ago. Last week as we were waiting to pick up our respective preschoolers, I noticed her leaning against the wall rather wearily, and a bright idea occurred to me.
“Hey,” I said to her, “I was planning on taking the kids to the zoo Friday, and Max would love it if Adam could go. Would it be ok if –“
“Yes,” she broke in.
“Oh – great! Um…since Ellen and Tre are so close in ages, would she like to –“
I’m pretty sure she would have given me her dog too, had I asked. Poor woman needed a few moments peace. Well, unfortunately we didn’t get to the zoo last week, what with all the illness around here. Today I was looking at the weather, hoping to find a day in the near future where I could schedule a zoo trip. No dice. This week and next, nothing but snow and cold and ickyness. So instead today we went to the museum. It used to be called the Natural History Museum, now it’s the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Eh. The museum.
It was interesting, having two other kids along. I don’t actually know them or their family all that well. But spending time with the children of a family gives you great insight on who they are as a family. For instance, at lunch they showed me the tags they wear around their necks. They look like dog tags, with their names, addresses, pertinent information like that.
“Our dad got them for us on line,” Ellen informed me.
“Oh, do you wear them all the time?”
“No, just when we go out to crowded places like here or the zoo or the amusement park,” she replied.
So there you go. Already I know that this family is careful and organized. Although I supposed I could have gleaned that from the fact that their garage is cleaner than my kitchen. And then there was the fact that my boys seemed to make them pretty nervous. Every time one of them would climb up on something, like a bench or stone wall, Adam would shake his head at him and say, “You really should get down. You could fall and break your head.”
But lest you think I’m judging this nice family, I’m really not. I know that kids provide glimpses into a family, but they’re like core samples. Narrow and not necessarily representational of the whole.
Monday when I picked Max up from preschool, his teacher handed me his papers from the day. One was a picture of a boy, with the words “Quentin is quiet because…” and space for the child to dictate the rest of the sentence. Max had completed the sentence with, “…he’s in trouble because he yelled at his mom.” He’d added many many tears to Quentin’s face.
Yes, Max had just recently gotten in trouble for yelling at his mom. I’d told him to do something and he hadn’t wanted to. With characteristic Max intensity, he’d turned around and shrieked at me, “No! I WON’T!”
All I did was send him to sit on the couch. You gotta believe me. It wasn’t a scene or a scarring experience for anyone. Except Max seemed to be brooding about it a bit.
It would be easy to look at this picture (Quentin has MANY tears) and assume that our home is simply rife with tension. But it’s not.
So although I learned some things about this family through their kids today, I’m not making any assumptions. What I know for sure is that these kids are polite, they had a great time with my kids, and I’d be happy to take them to the museum any time.
And if I forget their names all I have to do is check their tags.


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