Straight talk from a First Grader

It’s hard to believe that the first day of school was almost a month ago.  Wilson, Max and Olivia have made the transition quite well and I find myself very grateful for our situation at La Patera Elementary.  Great teachers, great families and great friends—all which combine to make getting up and going to school remarkably painless.  During these weeks, we have been doing what we can to give the kids extra attention before our focus shifts to Rudy.


More than classes started on the first day of school.  We also experienced what has since become the more regular occurrence of watching people stumble for words.  As we walked the kids to their classrooms in their new clothes and snapped pictures, we greeted families we hadn’t seen over the summer who, understandably, commented on Trish’s pregnant appearance.  It was easy to exchange pleasantries with those who smiled and made a quick comment as they hurried on to their classrooms, but more difficult when people took more of an interest and asked the usual questions of a woman obviously close to delivery.  The more a conversation turned to due dates and the baby’s gender and how Trish is doing, the more a sense of dread built inside me.  Not because I resented the person asking, but more out of a sense of compassion that the kind-hearted person didn’t know what they were walking into.  The longer a conversation progressed the more disingenuous it felt to withhold the reality of how we were really doing and what we were actually facing.


So, as I shared our story, I watched as their countenances became distressed and I ended up feeling a bit sorry for the people who had to experience that kind of turn in the conversation.  Here they were just being friendly and wanting to join in the joyful anticipation only to get blindsided by some information that left them awkwardly grasping for a response.  It isn’t what one expects—conversations with a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy are supposed to be about excitement and encouragement of what’s to come.  It’s understandable that being thrown such a curveball means the interactions don’t wrap up smoothly—it is a rare person that is able to react quickly and find the words that bring comfort and communicate the empathy one sees in the eyes.


But there was one person who didn’t seem to struggle for words—one of Livy’s classmates who came rushing through the schoolyard just before the bell.  She hollered out to Trish and held her arms out for a big hug and got one.  After the quick greeting and a pat on the head, she hesitated briefly and then came back in close and in a soft earnest tone said, “I hope your baby doesn’t die.”


As she turned and scampered off to class, her simple words stayed with us as we walked back home.  I realize that every mother of a first grade girl at La Patera reading this might be horrified and hoping this wasn’t their daughter, but the simplicity of her statement hit the mark.  While adults struggled for more eloquent ways to phrase it, this was the message they wanted to convey.  It’s what we want to, so I’m grateful for a forthright messenger who expressed it so plainly.

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