Your tiny little body barely makes an imprint on my pillow as you wake me with a cuddle and kiss. Four years old next Wednesday and still fitting into size two clothes. You hop around the house as if there were wings on your feet. You're a dragon fly skimming atop a pond. Skipping from table, couch, chair, my head, any obstacle in your way. You own that pond, and I simply stumble along beside you to catch you incase you bounce off the ground or off a tree. You are my peanut, and yet, you demand to be my princess. We compromise, Princess Peanut.
You march fearlessly through your kingdom in which the corners are padded and scissors hidden. A kingdom where I redirect your attention from the wobbly man in the park and the roaming stray dog you reach to pet. You do not yet realise that there are things to be afraid of, but I do, so I stand or crouch in your shadow and keep guard.
When you call, I will come. If you fall, I will pick you up. You shed tears, I wipe them away. I do this because I love you, because I have from the first time you disrupted my cycle. I do this because it is my mission as your mother.
This morning, I made you and your sister breakfast as you watched TV. It took your attention away from my swollen eyes, from the tapping sound my fingers made on the phone. Then, I heard the bomb explode and turned to see the runner fall. I shouted, "Change the channel." Your sister asked why and I, grabbing for the remote as she pulled away, said "because there are sad things on the TV." My voice cracked and I hid my face from your first introduction to cruelty. How was I to explain this?
I woke last night, often, thinking of my friends and family in Boston. Praying that responses not given were due to time differences and nothing more. I thought of mothers who couldn't keep their children safe and memories of frightening crowds who pushed and rubbed against us and tried to separate us. I thought of how, in crowds, I always clutched my bag and held you close, always looking ahead or at the ground, that is, when I was not watching you. You who smile, trusting strangers, and speak your name proudly. You have not, yet, recognised those who hate; although, sadly, they have probably recognised you-one that is innocent. Their understanding of justice is not rooted in the tangible, logic stilted with anger. I cannot plan for the nonsensical, make precautions for the absurd. I cannot always assure your safety.
Your sister asked "Why, Why did this happen?" and I felt the tingling in my chest, my eyes burning again and I cried, "Because there are bad people that want to scare us." Your sister's eyes focused back on the screams of the running people. You sat, examining my face, the tears, you had never seen me make and asked, "Are you scared?" I decided to be honest, and honesty that would crack your perfect kingdom, "Yes," I answered. I left the room to get a tissue and you looked back up to see a different picture on the screen.
It took until the evening before I received the last response to the many messages sent to many friends. It took until the evening that I could release the tissue in my hand. She phoned to say, "We're OK." She didn't go to the marathon. She stayed home. Stayed tucked away with her husband and beautiful boys in that home that she never locks because that world that she lives in she describes as safe.