I’m going out of town for three whole days.

This is the second time that I’ve left the boys since we brought them home, and J is not liking it at all (S is so independent, he minds less, although he did express the odd concern that I might be flying to somewhere unsafe, i.e. Ukraine!  More on that later).

The dear husband travels for meetings about twice a year on average, and he did not break this pattern even in the first year we had the boys home with us. In fact, he has expressed regret that he went back to work as soon as he did after we brought them back – despite the inequity of expectations about men and women taking off time for parental leave, he probably could have taken more time off, but he chose to return to work. He didn’t feel that he could stay away from the lab longer.  Was that pressure to return to work external or internal?  We’ll never know.

So, now, on the second short trip I am making away from them, I am very aware of how hard this is for J.  Especially after he is struggling to cope with the novelties of this year, with baseball (which he still thinks he hates, despite a much better game day yesterday than the previous week), and Hebrew School, which he tolerated slightly better the second week than the first (same link).  So, at 3:46am, just 14 minutes before I had set my alarm to go off this morning, he crept into bed with us, and snuggled up to me, only to wake up in alarm when I got up to get showered and ready for the flight.

“Where are you going, mommy?”

“Remember, I have to go to the airport.”

“Oh.”

So, he snuggled over next to Daddy, and I got ready.  But, he still wasn’t happy, and he trotted out twice more as I was collecting my things together, to get one more hug and one more kiss.  He finally decided to use our strategy that makes him feel like he has control over my departure – “Let me push you out the door.”

Well, we were upstairs, and normally the push-you-out-the-door happens at an external door.  At his preschool, it was the ritual for the past 2 years that allowed him to have control over my leaving him (I wasn’t leaving, he was evicting me!!).  And, even this year, when I have to go in to see patients early, and Dad will be walking him to the bus-stop, he likes to push me out the front door.

But, we were upstairs, in the door of the bedroom, and he was really tired.

I could see the wheels turning in his little weary head.  And, he decided that he could manage with just pushing me out the door of the bedroom, which he did, and then quickly returned to bed.  I hope he got some more sleep!!  He had time for at least two more hours, and he is a boy who needs to sleep.

So, I got out the door and into the car, and started on my drive to the airport, thinking about what dear Dad told me about his conversation with S last night (which prompted the questions at bedtime about whether I was going to Ukraine).  Apparently, they were listening to the news, at some point, and someone was talking about the beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.  S asked what the news reporter was talking about.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have certainly censored the boys hearing of certain news items.  Particularly in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, I took particular care to turn off the news if a story on that topic came up.  I don’t recall a specific instance where the news has been on, and a mention of the recent brutal beheadings might have prompted me to turn off the radio.

Unfortunately, Dad decided to explain the situation, in some detail.

He regrets it, now.

Especially as S peppered us last night with questions as to where I was going, and was it safe.

I grew up with the news on the radio 24/7.  My mother mostly listened to Pacifica radio, KPFA out of Berkeley, and the sound of strident radical voices made up the background of my childhood.  For those of you who don’t know Pacifica Radio, and who may think that NPR is extremely left-wing, it pales in comparison to the inflammatory rhetoric of KPFA!!

But, I think times must have been less scary, then.  Yes, we were terrified of nuclear holocaust.  I remember imagining scenarios of what I would do if I were separated from my family and the warheads fell.  In fact, as a young mother who was living in Palo Alto and studying across the hills at UC Santa Cruz every day, I used to have awful imaginings of the end of days, as I drove those winding roads (anyone else out there who can drive Highway 17 with his eyes closed? I knew every turn, and exactly how fast I could take them).

My mother never turned off the radio.  Nothing was too frightening in the news – or, if it was frightening, like nuclear annihilation – she felt it her duty to educate me and my little sister to the dangers.

But, I don’t recall ever hearing about school shootings, or about beheadings at the hands of radical terrorists.  And those are really the makings of nightmares.

So, we did our best to reassure S that Madison, Wisconsin is very safe!!  I’m pretty sure it is…