I got through the weekend pretty well, all things considered. The events at Newtown have continued to weigh heavily on my mind. There was a birthday party for a friend in my son's class, and seeing all of the children together made me think about those children who don't get to celebrate any more birthdays. And those parents whose arms are empty, who wrapped Christmas presents to give to a child who will no longer be there on Christmas morning to open them. But I tend not to grieve in the form of tears until a few days or weeks after something happens. It's just the way I work. And besides, I still have my children.
But this morning, after putting my son on the bus, I almost threw up. And then I wept, walking back to my house with my daughter in my arms.
Because the reality is that every day I watch my son leave on that bus, and am faced with a complete lack of control over what happens to him. It's nagged at me a little bit every day since the first day of school. It was just a little harder than usual today.
I could keep him home. I'm home now with my daughter; I could homeschool him. He's smart, and though he also resists instruction and correction from me, we would make it work.
But that's not where he belongs. He's a social child, a child who expresses his creative self best in the company of others. We have a good school system. And horrible things happen everywhere, in many places that are supposed to be safe, not just in schools.
I could enroll him in a private school, a smaller school where there would be more vigilance, more safety measures, less intrusion from the outside world.
But I'm a product of the public school system, and I believe in the value of children from all walks of life learning together, and teaching each other.
I could drive him to school every morning, at least removing one more transition during which something could go wrong.
But he loves the bus, he loves that freedom. It makes him feel grown-up. He is probably no safer in my car. And I trust the bus driver to get him to school and home safely.
So I put him on the bus. I wave at him through my tears, as he presses his face against the window, grinning in his inimitably impish way. I try to put things in perspective, feeling lucky for the luxury of waving to him. I remember, as many people have said, that the risk inherent in becoming a parent is that you allow your heart to walk around outside of your body. I make ginger tea, because that usually helps to settle my stomach, and maybe I break into the container of gingersofts. And I wait for him to come home, watching the minutes tick by impatiently.
I didn't want to write about Sandy Hook today. But it also seemed irreverent to write about anything else. So I will settle for comfort, for the normal of Christmas cookies. Because there is more than one way to die in this world, and one of those ways is to refuse to live. And the children of Sandy Hook deserve a better legacy than that.
adapted from Two Peas in their Pod
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. diced candied ginger
White sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 375 and line baking sheets with either parchment or silicone baking mat.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter and brown sugar at high speed with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy, about two minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.; beat well. Add in the molasses; beat well.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture a half cup or so at a time until all of the flour is mixed in. Mix in the crystallized ginger either VERY gently with your mixer or by hand.
Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls, and roll each ball in white sugar.
Place the cookie dough balls two inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes (they should still be soft, just cooked in the middle and barely crispy around the edges). Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a cooling rack.