Jax has been talking about “bad guys” a lot this week. It’s unnerving, as you might imagine given the Sandy Hook tragedy. The hopeful part of me considers this a coincidence. Afterall, he’s 3 and a half now, and I watch his imagination become bigger and better every day. He isn’t shielded from a whole lot by my husband or me. He watches a fair amount of television (although our tv rarely changes from the Disney Jr channel). He likes superheroes and their movies, which, as you know if you’ve ever seen one, always feature a bad guy or two. As soon as he gets scared, we turn off the movie and tell him it isn’t real. Then he asks to watch Disney Jr again. Simple as that.

I’m trying to recall whether he’s ever actually talked to me about bad guys before last Friday, and I can’t remember. He must have, right? I’m sure this is selective memory on my part. Or whatever you call that phenomenon that occurs when, for example, you’re trying to get pregnant and it seems like everyone around you is popping out a baby.

I’m still trying to not think about what happened last Friday. I’m trying to push the bad thoughts out of my brain daily—multiple times daily, like whenever I open my Facebook account or check Twitter. But then my 3-year-old starts talking about bad guys again.

I got angry when I first thought that maybe his daycare teachers mentioned something about the shooting to the kids. I mean, they’re 3 years old! Still so innocent, too young to talk to about murderers. Right? And that’s my job, when I choose to tackle it, right?

I’m struggling with the decision to talk to Jax or not about what to do if he encounters a bad guy in real life. On the one hand, the knowledge could save his life. On the other hand, have I mentioned he’s only 3? I’m so afraid to scare him at this young age. And I don’t even know what to tell him to do! Run? Hide? Pretend he’s dead (I’d probably opt for the gentler “pretend you’re asleep”)? I can’t even stomach the idea of this conversation with my baby boy. So far, all I’ve done is reinforce the message that there are always helpers around if he ever needs one (teachers, police officers, and so on). I like the Mr. Rogers quote about this that has made the social media rounds recently. One of these days, I’ll even read past the quote and learn from the rest of the article.

I know there are resources out there for parents to learn how to discuss tragedies with their kids—like the one I linked to above–and how kids should act if they occur. But I can’t face those articles just yet.

Do I have to? He’s 3. Barely a little boy. He still has the same nose he had when he was a baby. It’s like a button.

During Fire Prevention Awareness Week, he learned what to do in case of fire. And then about a month ago, I taught him how to call 9-1-1 on my cell phone in the event of an emergency, which to him means a fire (I didn’t elaborate on all the potential emergencies that could happen). That was scary and real enough. I never thought I’d be questioning whether to talk to him about hiding or playing dead if he encounters a bad guy with a gun.

Aside from teaching him about 9-1-1 and how to stop-drop-and-roll, I have no experience with this kind of thing and I’m floundering and frightened. I will do anything to keep my child safe, but I’m not willing to rob him of a single moment of his childhood until I have to. How do I know when is the right time?

I’m asking for your help. Have you talked to your 3- or 4-year-old about the incident? Have you discussed with him or her how to respond to an act of violence? I’m truly interested in your thoughts on this.

Yesterday’s tragic news shook me to my core. Since I have been a mother, I’ve learned what triggers my anxieties and have learned to avoid them at all costs. The news is one of my triggers, and I somehow manage to successfully avoid it–even with a husband who is addicted to MSNBC.

Having the day off from work, I spent yesterday morning packing up donations to give to a family who experienced their own tragedy recently, and I weeded through Jackson’s baby clothes to make up a box for my pregnant cousin. Talk about emotional! I may have even snuggled an empty newborn outfit–the one I brought my baby home in. I had on music, not the television, and I had been working too furiously to check in to social media. I was in my own sheltered, small world, without even realizing or appreciating how good that felt until much later.

Once I finished packing up boxes, I left to go visit my uncle, who is a doctor and who agreed to give me my belated flu shot. It was around 2:45 pm when I walked into his office and sat down in the waiting room, where some news channel was on the tv, like it always is when I go there. I thought, “I need to talk to him about that. Maybe something lighter would be better for a doctor’s office waiting room!”

And then I started to piece together what I was seeing. I opened up Twitter and asked someone to fill me in, thinking it would be gentler to hear the news from a friend than from CNN.

And reading through the first of many replies to my tweet, I started to cry.

The receptionist asked me if I was ok. Through tears, I told her I hadn’t seen the news all day and was learning what was going on. I explained that I have anxiety and a 3-year-old son before I started crying again.

We talked for a few minutes, and I calmed down a little bit before she led me into the individual room where my uncle would see me. While I was alone, I texted my husband and my mother to try to fill in some of the gaps for me and simply to tell someone I was struggling very much.

Then I got that dreaded needle, which added a physical dimension of pain.

My uncle and I talked for a few minutes about my anxiety, about our family, about parenthood, about the shooting. I left there feeling calmer, but shaken still, of course. I drove to my next errand, the entire time fighting with myself whether to skip the errand and rush to daycare to pick up Jax versus resuming my life as usual and completing the errand right down the street from the office. It made sense to run the errand. It felt like taking control, it felt like maybe it would stop the anxiety spiral. So I ran the errand. On my drive to the daycare immediately afterward, some jerk cut me off in traffic and then I lost it completely. I wailed on the steering wheel as words screamed out of my mouth that I didn’t even know I was thinking. I was angry and scared.

The tragedy evoked a feeling in me that I haven’t had since I suffered from postpartum anxiety (PPA). During my PPA, I worried–is there a stronger word for worry?–that something tragic was going to happen to my son. I worried he would become ill, or that someone would hurt him in some way. I worried I couldn’t protect him from any of it. I called my dad one day during the early part of my maternity leave, sobbing into the phone about how hard it is to be a parent and how impossible it felt to keep a child safe. ‘ll never forget that frantic feeling, the anxiety of being a new mother and trying to figure out how to shield my baby from everything, then realizing I can’t. That feeling returned like a tsunami yesterday.

At a red light, I reached into my purse and fumbled for my pill bottle. It had become suddenly apparent I wouldn’t be able to mother Jax the way he needed without some help calming myself down before I saw him. I didn’t want to be like this in front of him. I didn’t want my fear to become his fear.

I swallowed a pill and decided then I would take Jax out for ice cream after dinner. Life, for us, would continue as normal today. I say that with some guilt, of course. But more so with gratitude.

I think that ice cream sundae was the most delicious one I’ve had in my entire life.

With hesitation, I checked Twitter and Facebook this morning after having avoided them nearly the entire day yesterday (to avoid triggering myself any further). I was glad I did because of this tweet I saw right away:

https://twitter.com/the_lame_sauce/status/279800893220745217

I read the article Gregg tweeted, and it reminded me of what my uncle said yesterday: There are more good people in this world than there are people who would murder children. We can only try our best to keep our children safe without sheltering them too much from the world, but we cannot let our fears become their fears.

That’s how I experienced this event. I hope those of you reading are healing and hugging and counting your blessings.

 

 

I have a confession to make: I am a Ziploc-aholic. Yes, I know how wasteful it is to use disposable baggies, and plastic ones at that! Actually, they’re made from polyethylene plastic resin–doesn’t that sound like something you’d want to store food in?! But I have continued to use them over reusable containers because they’re flexible–meaning they can be crammed into Jackson’s overstuffed Spider-Man lunch bag.

Until today. This morning, with the hope of overcoming my Ziploc addiction and decreasing my carbon footprint a smidge, I ordered two sets of snack bags from my friend Kristina’s shop, Sew Curly. My order totaled a mere $12, including shipping and embroidery–what I’d spend on 3 boxes of Ziplocs (which wouldn’t last me very long). Sew Curly snack bags are reusable, made from machine-washable 100% cotton, with a velcro closure easy enough for kids to open and close. And if you’re into cuteness, you’re in luck, because the bags come in a variety of adorable patterns. I chose the Space pattern for Jax because he’s obsessed with anything to do with space. He’s more likely to eat veggies if they come inside one of these bags, I bet!

My favorite thing about the snack bags is that most of them can be embroidered. I’m having my kiddo’s name embroidered on his bags. This means no more clear Ziploc (read: boring) baggies with “Jax” written across them in Sharpie as I nervously fret about whether the ink will seep into his snack!

Bad momma, I know. But I’m changing my ways, I swear!

Look at these cute patterns!!

So let the second blogiversary celebration continue today with an offer from Sew Curly. First up, we have a 20% off coupon code that is good until midnight on Sunday, September 30: Use the code “Jax” at checkout. In addition, one of you commenters will win a set of two snack bags.

There are 5 ways to enter this contest; choose 1 or choose all 5 to increase your odds of winning! Each comment is an entry.

1) Visit the Sew Curly shop and take a look around. Then come back here & leave a comment below sharing your favorite snack bag pattern.

2) Follow @SewCurlyK on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

3) Follow @jamesandjax on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so, including your Twitter name.

4) Tweet something about this contest, including a link to this post and mentioning @jamesandjax and @SewCurlyK. Comment below with the URL of your tweet.

5) Subscribe to James & Jax and then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

One winner will be selected randomly via random.org on Friday, September 28 and notified via e-mail. Winner will receive two snack bags from Sew Curly in the pattern of choice. Contest open to all U.S. and Canadian residents. I received no compensation for hosting this giveaway.

When you’re done, why not head over to yesterday’s 2 giveaways? And stop back tomorrow for the fourth & final giveaway.

 

He is so proud. (and cute)

I was a nervous, anxious mess last night as I rocked Jax to sleep at 8:45, as always, in the glider we’ve used since his first day at home. By 9, he was out cold, so I laid him in his new Twin bed, complete with Star Wars sheets and a Darth Vader blanket. His stuffed animals lined the bookcase headboard above him. I thought about climbing into bed with him, knowing how much better I would sleep at his side instead of in my room down the hall, awake and listening for the thump all night long. I envisioned about 10 different (vivid) ways he could fall out of bed and injure himself in my absence, despite all the babyproofing we did as we rearranged his room yesterday. Nothing is as good as a momma’s protection, though, I thought.

But in the end I decided not to let my anxiety get the better of me. I thought it would be better for Jax if he woke up in his bed alone, rather than to think I’d be spending every night there with him.

It was pretty freaking hard to close the door on him and tiptoe to my room. But I did it.

Around 1:30 am, I woke up with a start. My head was throbbing (thanks to a leftover hangover from my visit to Dogfish Head the other night). I lay in bed for a half hour, not wanting to move but needing some Advil. By 2-ish, I got up, took some meds for my head, and checked on Jax.

Picture a Norman Rockwell painting of a little boy asleep in bed, all tucked in. That’s exactly what I saw when I peeked in–shining my iPhone on him so I could see him!

I went back to bed. I tossed and turned until 3:30, when I traipsed down the hall to check on him again. Gotta love anxiety.

Again, he was in the same position, my sleeping angel.

I laid in bed with him because at this point I was just desperate for some sleep.

At 6, I woke up in his bed and saw that he still hadn’t moved an inch. So I quietly left and went back to my own bed. I did not want him to wake up with me in his bed, too. I really want Jax to learn how to sleep all on his own, after years of part-time co-sleeping with mommy.

Before he’d fallen asleep last night, I told him “You stay in your big-boy bed until the sun comes up, and if you wake up in the dark, you can yell ‘Mommy!’ and I’ll come in.” I have no idea whether that helped or would have helped had he woken up. But I’ll be repeating it nightly, that’s for sure.

Around 6:55 or so, I heard him softly say “Mommy!” So I ran in there like I was on fire! haha

I said “Good morning! You slept in your big-boy bed all night! Yay! I’m so happy!” and I hugged him and kissed him and I could tell my boy was SO proud of himself.

I could not have asked for a better night. (Well, some restful sleep for me would have been great, but whatev.)

And this is from a kid who, on the average night, takes 30-45 minutes to fall asleep and then wakes once or twice in the night, wanting to sleep in my bed.

Amazing. And I really hope I’m not jinxing tonight by raving about how awesome last night was. I’ll report in tomorrow–probably on Twitter, where I usually rant & rave!

Happy Monday!

 

I want my son to grow up in a world where people aren’t bullied simply for living their lives. Part of me thinks this is wishful thinking. But the optimistic, idealist part of me thinks it’s possible.

I’m sharing the infographic below because it’s eye opening, particularly this line near the bottom:

9 out of 10 LGBT kids have experienced harrassment at school.

When I was in high school a long, long time ago, I witnessed that kind of bullying firsthand. I’m happy to say that I stepped in and stopped it, along with my best friend at the time. His name was Brian, and he was openly gay. Our high school (and our town) was pretty close-minded about that kind of thing–about any minority, to be honest. And one day, my best friend and I were driving down one of our town’s two main streets, near the high school, and saw Brian being chased by most of the football team, yelling at and threatening him while they all ran towards our car. We pulled over, opened the door, and urged Brian to jump in the car. Fortunately, he did, and we gave him a ride home.

We protected him that day. But we couldn’t do it every day. I’m pretty sure Brian got beat up a few times during his brief time at my high school. He didn’t stay for the full year, if I remember correctly. I think of him sometimes and hope he was able to get an education in a place that wasn’t so close-minded, so mean.

My high school was chock full of bigots and bullies, now that I think of it. Sure I was a little oddball, with my poetry scribbled on my sneakers and my holey grandpa sweaters held together with safety pins. But I wasn’t a vampire, a lesbian, or a Satan worshipper–all things I was called both to my face & behind my back during the 3 years I went there, and by kids who never took the time to get to know me. It didn’t bother me too much then. But now that I have a son, it does.

It saddens me to think that Jackson will encounter bullying during his education. I hope he isn’t the bully or the victim, but I’m pretty sure he’ll at least witness situations like those I experienced myself. I just hope they’re not worse.

I pledge to teach my son about bullying–why it’s wrong and how to rise above it if it happens to him. I will teach him about accepting people for who they are and that it isn’t nice to label them. How do you plan to teach your child?

 

This is a sponsored post.