Hug your kids

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THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE

Today I dropped my 6yo to an elementary school in the US, following another mass shooting at a school.

There is nothing I can say to fully express the horror and heartbreak of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday. The pain that those families are going through is unimaginable. I have watched events like this unfold from afar in the past, too many times, and felt the sadness and disbelief, but somehow it’s different this time. We live here now, in a country where a child is more likely to die from gunshot wounds than in any other industrialised country (13 times more likely, I believe, the web has been so full of harrowing statistics over the last few days).

Since moving to the States I have been very careful to avoid political discussion, I am not American, I don’t really understand the political system (although I am trying to learn) and I haven’t felt it my place to comment. I will also admit to a fear of offending a new, potential, friend by saying the wrong thing.

But, as a mother, I cannot accept the ease with which guns are available, I cannot accept that this is a ‘right’, I cannot accept that this right is more important than children’s lives.

On Friday I found myself trying to remember the last thing I had said to my boys as I dropped them at school and preschool. Had I given them a hug, told them I loved them, or had I been exasperated at having to ask them to put their shoes on for the fifth time, or shouted at them to stop screaming in excitement at meeting their friends on the way to school and ‘disturbing the neighbours’?

Today, I didn’t shout, I didn’t tell them off, I didn’t lose my temper in the chaos and frustration that is trying to get three children into shoes, coats, hats, buggy and out the door before 8am. I hugged them as I said goodbye (much to the disgust of my 6yo) and I told them I loved them. Will this last? I doubt it. The frustrating chaos will be too much and I will lose my temper with them and I won’t make it through the school run without shouting at some point. My 6yo will run into school without a backward glance (or a hug). My 3yo will eventually do the same. And that is how it should be (not the shouting of course, but I’m being realistic on that one!)

Today I am thankful for my wonderful, noisy, funny, infuriating boys. Today I kept my little girl close, and left the errands and housework for another day.

Over the weekend it felt trite to tweet or Facebook the mundane, but I realised that actually, I need to pay more attention to the small stuff; savour every moment, and record them.

Which is why I finally got round to starting this blog.
 

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6 thoughts on “Hug your kids”

  1. I feel the same way about guns as you do. Strongly. And like you, I don’t want to offend my American friends so I try to say as little as possible on the subject – and yet the occasional line slips out because now the mother bear in me can’t stay calm and aloof.

    But as you send your children to school today in the wake of such tragedy, I can imagine the thoughts running through your head. I’m sure every other parents is feeling the same, though. Thanks for the reminder that the little things count, because they absolutely do. That’s why I started my blog, too.

    1. Thank you so much for the comments, I really appreciate it. , I think that we get so caught up in the day to day sometimes that we forget to enjoy the moments. My kids make me laugh so much, but I know that I’m often ‘too busy’ to really listen – one of the best things about this move for me is the slower pace, having the time to stop and laugh, without rushing off to do the next thing.

  2. It must be tough, like a stranger in a land where the language is not the same. I am flabbergasted at the pictures that popped up all over twitter and fb of entire families including the kids brandishing their weapons, like something from the middle east…I sent a friend of mine who lives in the states an email after the shooting saying that i hoped she was okay and she replied saying yes and wasn’t it frightening but then she said ‘i guess it could happen anywhere though” which made me wonder of the lengths people go to, to justify the acceptability of job average keeping guns in their under stairs cupboard.
    enjoyed dropping by your blog. hope your new life in the US is going well xx

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ve just been catching up on your blog too :)
      I’ve had some interesting conversations, before and after, about the ease of access, and the acceptability of owning guns, and I still really struggle with it. It was an awful day, and it will be a while before I don’t think about it as I drop my boys to school. The really scary thing is that, as your friend says, it could happen anywhere.

  3. Such valuable words. Those hugs goodbye are priceless and so easily forgotten in the hurry of daily life. I squeezed my bubba just a few more seconds longer each hug today. Thank you for the inspired thoughts**

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