Every child has the right, the indisputable right, to be innocent for as long as they possibly can. To believe in all things good, all things fanciful, and happily ever after. They deserve to be able to walk through life wearing rose colored glasses; until adulthood, if possible. They not only deserve it, I honestly believe they need it to grow into the kind of adults that the world needs more of. The kind of adults that foster dreams and fairy tales, and the belief in happily ever after.
Without going into a lot of personal details, I'm going to tell you that events this weekend brutally and unforgivably stripped a few layers of innocence from both of my boys. Not just my boys, but other children we care deeply about. I thought my heart broke all it could break while all of this was unfolding, but I've found that it keeps cracking every time I look at my boys and realize that they've had to see a little bit of ugly in their world.
As a family, we had gone to the home of another family that we absolutely adore. The husband and wife, the little ones. My boys spoil these little ones, and love the fact that they are looked up to, and adored in return. We had a pretty good time, watching the boxing match and enjoying good food, drink and friendship. When we left to make our trek home a few hours later, it was with full bellies and full hearts. Coach and the boys fell asleep in the car on the way home, and all seemed right in our world. And then Coach's cell phone rang.
We were told we needed to turn around and hurry back to the home of our loved ones, there had been a horrible fight and someone needed to intervene; get them all settled down, and get the kids to a less stressful situation. Without hesitation, we turned right around and headed back. Bug continued to sleep, but Jock woke up wondering what was going on. After a brief explanation, he was just as concerned as we were.
When we arrived, it was to find the house locked up tightly; the wife in the backyard, yelling at the husband through the patio door. They were both angry, and it was probably a good thing that glass door separated them. When you combine stress, alcohol and anger you have the potential for an ugly situation. We were desperately trying to avoid that. We got the wife away from the door, and got her to walk out front with me. She was crying, sobbing really, but I did get out of her that half of their children had been taken to a neighbors because they had woken up. While that relieved me somewhat, my worry was for the other children still in the house. I went to the neighbors to check on the children there, gave great big hugs, and promised them a fun sleepover. They got bundled into the back of my truck with my boys. Bug was still sleeping, but I wondered for how long?
I was going to leave Jock at the truck with the kids, since the neighbor's husband had walked back with me. We could hear Coach and the husband in the house. The doors were all locked again, and I was determined to get in to remove the other children. The neighbor was at the patio door, and he thought it would be a good idea for Jock to come on back. The thinking being that if things inside had gotten volatile, Jock's presence might calm them down. No one involved wanted to do any of this in front of any of the kids. While I wasn't sure I was totally on board with this idea, I still had Jock with me--trying to find an open window. Fortunately, the bedroom for the kids still inside was able to be opened.
Let me interrupt here for a minute to tell you how amazing my son is. Always level headed, we still had no idea how he'd be in a crisis since he's never faced one. Oh, how calm he was! How absolutely, amazingly calm. He reached in the window, and with a playful tone of voice told the little ones to come outside to him. He grabbed them, and handed them to me to wrap in a blanket I'd grabbed. He ruffled their heads and told them to go with me, he'd come play with them in a minute. I hustled those kids to my truck, to climb in with their siblings and Bug, who had woken up by this time and was--without knowing a single thing about what was going on--keeping the kids in there occupied and distracted. He looked up when I added the newest little ones, and kept right on being Bug. Making them smile, keeping them at ease.
Goodness, how my kids make me proud.
I walked back around the house, only to find that the neighbor and Jock had climbed in the window and walked right into the living room. And the neighbors' hastily devised plan had worked. With Jock there, tempers were able to take a step back and rational thought was able to step forward. As rational as it could get when the main players were still clouded by alcohol, at any rate.
They let me come into the house to gather things for the kids, and we were all able to sit and talk. I had at this point sent Jock back out with all the kids, so it was just the adults. In the end, we left Coach to stay overnight, for support or whatever was needed, and I took off with a bunch of kids, who ended up sleeping at their grandma's house. Well, except for my two, who went home with me to their own beds.
I am beyond saddened at this loss of innocence, of those kids and my own kids. Innocence isn't something you can get back, and that breaks my heart. And I think it bothers my boys, too, while they might not know it or admit it. I think they're reaching for any slice of that innocence that they can get back. That ability to believe once again in all things fanciful and unbelievable.
The two of them are sitting here next to me on the couch, watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory*. And if chocolate waterfalls, candy daffodils and fizzy lifting drinks don't leave you feeling just a little cleaner and more innocent inside, I'm just not sure what will.
*The original with Gene Wilder, not the creepy remake with Johnny Depp.