School days

I promise

Just the other day I was talking to a friend about some of the problems she’s having with her kids following her divorce.
“Oh, my kids fell apart too,” I assured her, “but they’re doing sooo much better now. It just takes time and patience…and a lot of prayer. But they’re doing so well it astonishes me.”
And they are. They really are. But…
Today Tre and Max were at school, and when it was time to pick them up I ran into horrible construction-befouled traffic. I don’t know why this surprised me so much; this particular road has BEEN like this for the past few weeks, with no end to the madness in sight. But yes, there it was, still a hassle today. It was going to make me late.
I crept along, with one eye on the dash clock. I’m one minute late, I thought, not too bad. Now four minutes late. Tre will worry. Now I’m six minutes late. Damn.
I arrived about eight minutes after pickup time. I heaved a sleeping Raphael out of his car seat and marched in as quickly as possible. The halls were still bustling with parents and students, a flurry of backpacks and noise. I waved off a friend who wanted to ask me something and yanked open the door of the gym.
I expected Tre to be the first face I saw, but he wasn’t. I scanned the few kids milling around, but none of them were Tre. I turned to see him, huddled in a corner, his face pressed to the window. He’d been watching, but had missed me. Just then he glanced in my direction, and seeing me there, he leaped up and ran over, barreling right into me. He was crying, and he wrapped his arms around me so tightly it hurt.
“YOU SCARED ME,” he said into my side. I could feel him shake. I dropped to one knee and shifted Raphael (still asleep) so I could wrap my free arm around Tre.
“I’m so sorry…I got caught in traffic.” I said. “Are you ok?” He nodded, wiping away tears that suggested he wasn’t. I hugged him close and said what I always say when he gets scared, “I will ALWAYS come back. I promise.” He nodded, because he knows that. What he believes is another story.
Tre is so very old and mature that he hates to cry. The other day he was jumping over a laundry basket in my room, and he rammed into the edge of the open door with his knee. The very frame of the house quivered, he smacked that door so hard. He fell to the floor, and gripped his knee. His face was twisted in a grimace to hold back the tears. I went over to him and patted his back and asked him if he was ok. He nodded yes, but he was trembling. I casually offered him an ice pack, and he allowed as how that was a pretty good idea. He hobbled off to get his own ice pack, thankyouverymuch. And he didn’t shed a tear.
But today? Today he couldn’t seem to stop crying for a while. We headed off to get Max from his classroom. Tre tried to greet him cheerfully, but he wasn’t fooling his brother, who took one look at him and said, “What’s wrong with you?” Tre’s eyes went red again, and he started wiping furiously at the tears.
“Nothing. Mama just scared me a little. She was late.” His breath caught in his throat and he bounced away from Max’s scrutiny. On the walk out to the van he kept his head down, avoiding the eyes of other kids. When one friend of his walked too close, Tre threw his jacket over his face, subtle soul that he is.
Eventually he settled down. He relaxed into the afternoon, and didn’t even hover near me, as he once would have. He’s doing so much better.
But there’s a part of him that knows the possibility of loss. One day you can go to bed with a person a huge part of your life, and when you wake up the next morning, that person can be just a memory. No matter how strong he gets, that knowledge is a part of him.
When I tuck him in tonight I’ll take an extra few minutes at his bedside. He won’t want to talk about being scared, because Tre Rule # 1 is, “Thou shalt not talk about the scary stuff.” So I’ll pause to hear one extra goofy joke, or to discuss the book he’s reading. I’ll just be there, same as I will in the morning, and I hope to eventually teach him another thing to carry with him always.
Some people stay.



That story breaks my heart. I can so relate. My son too, is terrified of losing those close to him since his father moved out.

My heart also hopes that our children learn that some people stay.


it's the hard lessons in life that stay with us....and it sucks that small children should have to learn such lessons...that you can lose people that you love...but the flip side to this, as you said is SOME PEOPLE DO STAY. When Munch's best friend lost his mother this summer we went through a time when Munch would not let us out of his sight. He learned that sometimes Mommies don't wake up...and i think that it has brought us closer together...heck of a rotten thing to have to learn when you are 9!

Mary Jo

Poor Tre... what a hard lesson that he's having to learn. I can only imagine how you must all feel. I don't envy you for being the one to teach him to trust again. God bless you.


I can't remember how old Tre is, 8? I tried to google it but couldn't find it. Anyway Emily is 6 and they were having a bus drill yesterday before school dismissed. She doesn't ride the bus so they had her wait in the office, and she though I was late, and she lost it. But their ages and genders are different. The other day I was four minutes late and she burst into tears when she saw me. My Haley often yells "Don't leave without me!" Whenever we go someplace and I am waiting for her, even though I have never left or threatened to leave without her. So my looooong winded point is that I don't think it's because your divorced. I think all kids are afraid of being abandoned. We are hard wired for it in my opinon. So don't beat yourself up about being divorced, or Tre not having a dad. He has three adults living with him and that will fill in a lot of gaps in the dad dept.


I really wish I knew how to put words together as beautifully as you do. There isn't a day I read this blog that I don't sit here open-mouthed in awe at your talent.


I was 6 when my father died. I don't remember having feelings of abondonment by either my father or worrying that my mom would leave as well. But, my husband pointed out to me that I didn't talk about him or his death or even his life. Looking back I realized that I stopped talking about him because I didn't want to hurt my mom. She also didn't talk about him because she didn't want to hurt me or my younger sisters. Years of sidesteping a very important life changing event because we loved each other so much that we didn't want to cause each other pain.

Continue to talk to your boys. They may be trying to be strong for you, especially your oldest. I read somewhere that boys have a hard time talking if you just sit down and say "Let's talk about this" but will open up if they are involved in another activity. I know this is true with my son. Try to have a direct converstation with him and his reply tends to be "I know" or "uh huh" but the things that are on his mind almost pour out of him when we are singing along to the radio in the car or playing a video game together.


Oh that is just heartbreaking :(

Hula Doula

Oh sweetie that is so heart wrenching. Give Tre lots of kises and hugs.


That hits really close to home for me. I actually got goosebumps and a chill up my spine after reading your entry. You have an amazing way with words and an even more amazing way with your children. :)


I miss you so bad. *sniff*


I hope that someday I learn to be as good at understanding my children as you are with yours.

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