I got a long, sad hug from ZoomBoy today, and I kept it going as long as I could, until my shoulder went to sleep because boy has bones like razor blades.
He fell down a music rabbit hole and ended up at “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, looking up all of the political events that started it.
“Mom, I know this is a sad question, but has there ever been a time when mankind was not at war?”
“No. In fact, when you read the Christian myths, you’ll see that Adam took a bite of the apple of knowledge and was cast out of Eden– it essentially means that once you have free will and knowledge of the world, you can’t escape conflict.”
“No, honey. It’s why Puritans taught, ‘In Adam’s fall sinned all.’ I mean they interpreted it to mean that we’re all damned because we’re evil, but I think it was more basic and less black and white than that. It means that once men have knowledge and free will, doing the right thing–and deciding what is right–gets harder and harder. And it’s scary. I’m sorry.”
He hugged me harder.
“This scares me too.” Oh God, does it. Have you lOOKED outside? Have we SEEN what our vile, corrupt, ignorant, syphilitic turd of a governing body has been doing to our world? Jebus fucking Christmas. And the puckered angry white men who think that’s okay– I am constantly angry. Anyway, I needed to give my kid hope. “The thing I keep reminding myself is that the small kindnesses we do matter. We can’t control the actions of corrupt and powerful assholes who want us all dead. But we can be kind to the people in our lives, no matter how small. We can take whatever power we have and use it for good. “
“Also, we can listen to Springsteen for a while– he believes in redemption.”
“Yeah! He does! Okay! I’ll do that!”
So there you go. Small kindnesses and Springsteen. I won’t tell him that I cry in the car a lot out of fear for my children, for their generation. The kids have both learned about “duck and cover” in the last couple of years at school, and I told them that yeah, I had nuclear bomb drills when I was a kid.
“But that’s so stupid! It wouldn’t do any good! You’d be dead.”
“So what’s the use of having the drill?”
“You can plan how to make yourself right in your heart if it ever happens.”
“What would YOU do?”
“Well, I’d try to get us all home. So we could sit and talk and hug and tell stupid stories until we couldn’t anymore.”
“That’s a good plan. We like that plan.”
I don’t tell them I hate that plan. I would rather plan to die old and happy and know they were living good lives in a better world.
But you have to tell your children what will give them peace. They’re smart, my kids. They see the news. They see Mate and I trying not to fall into anger and despair.
Our plan has always been each other. It’s still a good plan. It’s the best comfort we can give.
Also, Springsteen. Can’t hurt.