Keeping Our Peace

Conversation with Claire this weekend:
“Daddy, what are tongues for?” she asked Clay while riding in the car with him.
“Well,” he answered, “they’re for making sounds, like ‘tee’ or ‘la-la-la’. Or so that you can taste things.”
“Yeah, Dad,” she agreed. Then she added, “Really, they’re for licking.”

Can’t argue with that!

Here’s an article I saw featured on the front of a magazine in the checkout line the other day: “Why it’s Never Too Early to Start Stressing About Your Kids’ Education.” And I thought, “why?” Why, why, why do we drive ourselves crazy about things like this? Or why do we let other people– other parents, friends, or even silly magazines and TV talk shows– drive us crazy with this stuff? Is it just here on the Eastern seaboard (I think the magazine was Boston Magazine), or do all of you, my scattered family and friends, find it the same wherever you are? Either way, I’m resolving anew to keep my peace, or hold my peace (or maybe I have to hold my peace to keep my peace!). The old poem “Desiderata” comes to mind: “Go placidly, amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” (for full poem, see

In fact, “Desiderata” seems like an pithy little instruction manual for living in New England! Here, where we live elbow-to-elbow, there is always someone or something poised to steal our peace:
• rude (or simply clueless) drivers to make you feel harrassed
• hand-wringingly obsessive parents to make you feel like you’re not doing enough for your children
• aggressively political do-gooders to infuriate you because they are so confident they are good and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is evil
• arrogant kids and their equally arrogant parents to put themselves ahead of others no matter what (ME first!)

There now, a practical demonstration. Just enumerating a few of the frustrations of daily life has gotten me all stirred up! So that is the last time I’ll do that. I’m going to hold my peace now! Please call me on it if I don’t!

Now that the belly-button gazing is over, I’ll get to the important stuff. The kids are all settling into the school year well. Claire is very happy in her class, though she is determined to take her purse to school to pay her teacher with the “credit cards” Chloe gave her this weekend. Unfortunately, we keep forgetting her purse…

Quinn is just a happy guy generally. His favorite new thing is counting, and “seven” is his favorite number. He can count right up to eight with a little help along the way, but he is likely to shout “seven!” at any moment. Totally reminds me of a little blond girl I once knew (Heidi), whose favorite number was 8. Anyway, he was an especially happy guy this weekend because his favorite wrestling partner came home for a visit Saturday evening.

Chloe and I had a wonderful treat on Saturday: we went school shopping for her at the nicer, bigger mall we never make it to. We did have success, which doesn’t always happen when we clothes-shop for her slender self. And more than that, we just had a good time. We were amazed to note that, at 3:00 we voluntarily left the mall having accomplished all we wanted to (as opposed to rushing out of the mall because we had already taken longer than we should have). Of course, she would very much have liked to buy one of those stripey purses in the Coach store, but she knows her Coach days are still a ways off! On Sunday she did amass a small fortune (and lots of goodwill from Mom and Dad) for babysitting the littles ALL day while we took Will to Brooks and did all the orientation and reception activities. She was wonderful.

Finally, Will did come home Saturday afternoon after the soccer scrimmage (which, I think, went very well for him). We really enjoyed having him around for the evening, and he and Clay took the opportunity to go out and pick up some of the miscellaneous items we hadn’t thought to send with him last week (like Cheez-its!). Sunday drop-off was a long blur of receptions and speeches and Q-and-A sessions. But the summary is that he is very comfortable and happy to be there. He’s making friends and just being himself. Much of what we parents heard during the orientation activities for us was a good reminder of why we have let him go do this. It’s not just about the academics, but about the whole person there. I’ll try to come up with some better details on that in another post sometime.

We left him at dinnertime, with a new friend across the hall (a Broncos fan, Kelli!), as well as one down the hall he had met during soccer. Then we went to a parent reception at one of his classmates’ homes near the school. It was a very pleasant– and lavish and large– event and we enjoyed meeting several people. Much to my amazement, none of us were crying. I didn’t cry (much) until last night in bed and this morning after dropping off both girls. I guess the key is going to be to keep myself occupied these next several days– which is maybe why this is such a long post! Thanks for reading, and thanks for keeping us in your thoughts!

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