Last week my fantastically stupendous friend offered to take Phin so I could go on a field trip and have all the Ibby time I needed. We went to a nature center at Funk's Grove just a few miles out of town so I thought I would be able to handle the short school bus voyage. Not so much. It took hours to recover and was a powerful reminder not to be doing that. I cuddled with my girl and closed my eyes to try to make the time go faster and ended up eavesdropping on the little boys behind me. "My dad has an AK 47." "My brother has a machine gun." !?!!!? What?! Why does a 7 year old even know what an AK 47 is? I surreptitiously stole a peek between the seats. They were sweet and innocent on the surface, but they know too much. It amazes me how people who reside within a few miles of me are living such completely different lives. They went on, "I have like 15 brothers." "Me too! I have like 20." I was reminded of helping in Charlie's class in the past and being there for birthday parties. The teacher would have the kids stand up and answer questions about themselves and on a few different occasions they were asked how many siblings they had and they didn't even know! "Ummm, I think I have about 9 sisters and, umm, some brothers?" That seems pretty basic and these kids don't even have that foundation because their parents lives are so chaotic. I don't know if all kids do this, but my children have always organized everything in terms of their family. When they discovered their hands the fingers would be designated as mommy, daddy, brother, sister, and baby; food on their plates would become different people; and lately every book we read has a Phin, three sisters, and a brother. I think our families are important in our development and set the groundwork for who we become and I want to do more to help some of these kids who don't have very much stability.
Oh, and the field trip was great -- gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, friendly and knowledgeable teachers, fun playing in the discovery grove, and Ibby even pet a snake!