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  • Writer's pictureDrSwae

The Things They Carried

Hello. I hope you're feeling well. I hope you're finding ways to get through challenging times.

We are doing fine here, gratefully.

We are doing our best to make peace with the things we can't change and working like mad to change the things we can. Or mama is at least. Boys are just happy waiting for recess and outside time.

They were chomping at the bit to get out this morning. But when the time actually came to go, I COULD NOT get them out of the house. I called and called, huffed and puffed. But still no answer.

They took forever packing their backpacks. And when they got outside after all that time, two of them were just in shorts and shoes. No snowsuits or rain gear or boots that take forever to get on. No. Just shorts and sweatshirts.

By the way, it's early April. In Vermont that meant thirty-some degrees this morning. But we breed em tough up here.

We had a great time exploring, and of course making forts.

Our teepee which was our most epic fort for the past few years has seen better days. It's in need of some TLC, but it still makes for good play. The boys are always looking for or building forts. It's been one of the few constants of their childhood.

After a bit we came upon this surprise guest in our neighborhood. Parked with no one inside. We were intrigued and had to check it out on our own.

Incredible how being on the inside of any structure somehow loans a sense of protection and adventure. We will take any we can get right now.

This car carrier may have been our best discovery in a long while.

Another pleasant surprise when we returned was that our grass was growing. One of my boys "saw" his friends' grass on google classroom, and some of them had big old meadows growing in their kitchen window pots. We were late to planting. Not to mention cavalier in our "potting". I had all but counted ours out. So we were just over the moon to see six little green shoots sprouting. Made our day.

The day went well overall. My fifth grader accomplished his project on his chosen US state or territory. If you're interested, he chose Kingman Reef which I learned for the first time is a US territory. (I would have lost to my own boy in Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader!)

But gosh it made me want to visit.

(Photo credit: Enric Sala)

I learned from my boy that its magnificent reefs have been the site of over a dozen shipwrecks! Shiver me timbers!

And amazingly these reefs still managed to be so unscathed by human impact that they have become the standard by which scientists measure the true toll our actions take on the environment.

I mention this in other places, but though the evidence is still a little murky on chemical sunscreens and reef degradation, I just can't think of a good reason to use a chemical sunscreen when zinc or titanium sunblocks are available. And safer.

My how I look forward to a time when I can think of sunscreen again. Even as a dermatologist.

It was a good project, and now I'll be dreaming of Kingman Reef.

It's time for bed now anyway. But before going I just had to check what was inside those little backpacks. I was curious all day since they spent so much time packing and I didn't see them use the stuff once on the walk.

Well, quite an assortment.

A sand shovel.

And a sandpaper block.

School supplies.

Writing pads and journals.

It all made me wonder what they are thinking about. They do mourn the loss of school.

My boy wrote about it today in his journal, and he called leaving school, "a disappointment". That word broke my heart.

The fact is, these little buggers love their school. Sure, they have plenty of adventures at home.

But they feel this change in their little big hearts as a loss. We all do. And maybe it's just me overanalyzing as I always do, but I think they carry these trinkets in their packs for security, for control over something. Anything.

Grown ups have ways to try to go to lighthearted places when times get tough. Distraction helps immensely. We can't focus on risk day in and day out. It's not sustainable.

But if we're not careful, we forget to notice that kids are trying to navigate these rocky waters too. It's our job to make sure they don't hit those wild, spellbinding reefs. I resolve to work harder on that.

Tomorrow, I'll try to remember not to be in such a rush when they pack. In the meantime, tonight I'll hope for many more lucky days with them.

I hope for more lucky days for us all.

Good night and sweet dreams. xo, Dr. Swae


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