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I was sitting with my kids in the cafe area of our grocery store the other day. Two women came up the steps, and I noticed them survey the crowded area, then make their way to a table–one stopped by our table first and leaned over to me to say, kindly: “Hello there…did you by chance leave your wallet at the check-out?”

“Probably, and most likely my keys, too, knowing me,” I said, laughing, as I checked my bag, but I had both.

“Well, I’m sorry to bother you, but when I saw you with the kids, well, I know what that’s like,” she said, with a nice smile, and joined her friend again.

I felt a sudden surge of surprise and appreciation–she did not imply that I was the most harried one in the cafe, just a simple acknowledgment that I perhaps had my hands full in a way she understood and was a likely candidate for leaving my keys behind.  In fact, I looked remarkably un-harried: Before she walked up, I had just been thinking that I needed to leave soon because of the almost eerie way my children were being so still and quiet while eating in an exciting environment–this couldn’t last.  (They even had their napkins on their laps–Martin because he thinks it’s funny, and Chris because Martin did it.)

This woman has probably already forgotten that moment of random kindness, but to me, she makes people who might be trolling through supermarkets scowling and judging my “spawn” fizzle up and disappear right out of my consciousness.

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When children are sick, and changes are afoot, and midnight and 3pm seem about the same, and other things besides blogs need to be written, the only things I can come up with seem to be Twitters.

Twitter: Yet another technological thingamajig that I had a good laugh at my husband for suggesting to me–I believe my exact words were something like….”Ha, ha, you’re a narcissistic stalker!” He showed me his account–his colleagues use it at work for telling each other…well, I didn’t really read it, read it because it was too boring, but they use it to give updates to each other. Why I would profess to assume that anyone would want daily, hourly, minute-by-minute updates on my life was beyond me, and I certainly don’t need to get quite so involved in other people’s business.

But….then my sister moved far, far away, and I did want to know what she was doing all day as she acclimated to a new place, and assumed she wanted to know just what book I was reading to my children and what we had for lunch. And then I thought I recalled seeing this strange Twitter thing on a blog or two that I love, looked around, and there it was. If it’s good enough for Christine, it’s good enough for me.

And the true glory of it–I now know that a friend on the West Coast was making homemade desserts with her girlfriend to prepare for Thanksgiving, and know that today, a friend on the East Coast is getting out early from her job due to snow. These are friends that I have known since elementary school, and I used to know those daily details, but now I don’t. I always want to plan an hour of uninterrupted time to talk on the phone with them, or write a four page email, and really, it’s hard to do that often for all of us. But these little twitters–you can’t go beyond 140 characters no matter how much you want to–give me all those details that might not make it into a phone conversation or an email, and keep up that closeness we had when we were playing softball together or sitting in science class discussing our true 9th grade loves.

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Of Hawks and Bulldozers

When my husband takes the boys out without me, they go wild. Literally. Never a store, rarely a playground–they explore the woods and creeks and fields, returning with photographs of every creature and flower and leaf they discover.

A creature-adventure to remember came the day they discovered a red-tailed hawk eating a squirrel. “He was so close,” they said, “we almost could have touched him.” They watched, perfectly still, as minutes ticked by. They returned to the scene of that adventure last week, and I asked Martin if he saw any more red-tailed hawks. He said, “No, just bulldozers.”

The wild wooded area, blocked in by neighborhoods on all sides, was being sacrificed to the latest development.

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I have nothing profound or unique or controversial to say about suburban sprawl and destroying wild spaces; I have just a boy looking for hawks and finding bulldozers.

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On my way to bring Martin to his little gym class, I was behind a car decorated with bumper stickers that advocated everything I opposed. From politics to religion to the rule of law, it was me, but opposite. I followed this car all the way into the gym’s parking lot, and we parked next to each other. A woman got out with a boy about Martin’s age, who, when he saw us, called, “Hi! Didn’t I tell you that you were my friend last week?” to which Martin replied, “Yes! You were wearing a blue shirt!” They scampered in the door together, took off their shoes, and were off.  Blue Shirt’s mother and I said friendly hellos, and aren’t-they-cutes, and then I prepared to leave.

But the aren’t-they-cute talk turned into a discussion of the beauty of 3 year olds making friends, then to why adults couldn’t hold on to that, then to the Jena 6 and the disparity in our country based on race and privilege . . .then to how we re-organized our lives to be home with our kids and how we felt about it . . .to . . . OK, now my little Chris just couldn’t bear the injustice of not being allowed on the trampoline any longer, and I really had to leave. But, barely breaking stride, she pulled out a toy train with eyes from her bag and Chris nearly collapsed with delight.  That bought us some more time to get into the negative images of women in advertising . . .

Shame on me for that flicker in my mind wondering what kind of idiot could drive a car plastered with bumper stickers advocating that kind of crap. Well, she could, she does, and she happens to be a kindred spirit in motherhood.  Go figure.

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