To My Childhood Icons: This Is Not Goodbye


Last week I took my son and nine of his friends to see “Rogue One” for his 10th birthday. As soon as he was old enough, my husband and I introduced him to the world of “Star Wars” and let him watch the movies one by one, in the same order we saw them as kids.

Partly, we wanted him to experience them the way we did, having to work backward to the beginnings of Anakin, and the dark and twisty path he took to become Darth Vader. But we also wanted him to meet our favorite characters first; the ones we idolized growing up. We actually couldn’t wait to introduce him to them, as though they were old friends: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.

As parents, it is sometimes more exciting to relive our childhood memories through the eyes of our children, than to make them in the first place. Just for a moment we hop backward on an ever-moving timeline, that often leaves little time for nostalgia.

As I watched my son and his friends at “Rogue One,” statue-still and mesmerized, I remembered my first “Star Wars” movie. The slant gold font disappearing into a starry screen; a hint of the adventure that was about to unfold, in a galaxy far, far away.

I knew what was happening; they were making a memory.

This was one of those times as parents where we overlap. Like deja vu, we uncover our own memories as a result of making new ones for our kids.

When I was 7, my great grandmother made me a Princess Leia costume for Halloween. She took liberties and made it out of shiny, pink satin— because on Halloween you can be anything, even a pink Princess Leia.

When I put it on, I was transformed into a gutsy princess, who took orders from no one, and held her own among her (generally all male) counterparts. Covered head to toe in a cape of pink, with carefully wound braids above my ears, the world was mine to conquer; or so it seemed.

Now that I’m all grown up and a mother of two, I look forward to the day my kids reach an age where I can introduce them to the music, books, and movies that I loved as a kid.

This year, my generation suffered a whirlwind of loss in the childhood icon department. And though it can seem odd to be moved to tears when someone dies, that let’s face it―you didn’t even know; it still happens. We feel gutted and sad, as though we have lost something familiar, and that is because we have.

Our icons are part of us, woven into the fabric of time that shaped us, because they were there while we were making some of our most vital memories.

Early on, my family taught me that music held 1,000 stories, and even more emotions. By the age of 10, I knew exactly where to set the needle down on a vinyl record to cue Prince’s unmistakable guitar riff, signaling the start of “When Doves Cry.”

One of my first cassette tapes was “Purple Rain” and I played it until it fell apart. I bought it again on CD and the case is taped together and broken, but still a mainstay on our family playlist. My kids can belt out most of the tracks by heart; proof that some of me is sticking to them.

When I watch Gene Wilder brilliantly personify Willy Wonka, inviting my children into the unimaginable world that is edible wallpaper, chocolate waterfalls, and fizzy drinks that allow you to defy gravity; what they don’t see, perched on the edge of our couch, is a child-sized me, full of wonder and amazement at the magical world unfolding on the screen.

As Alan Rickman so delicately embodies the complexities of Severus Snape, or the loving but flawed husband in “Love Actually,” it reminds us that even those we love the most have shortcomings; and that to love wholly, is to love in spite of imperfections.

When David Bowie leads us to the middle of a labyrinth as the hypnotizing Goblin King, we learn that songs and book pages can sometimes be trapdoors to escape the realities of family life…and the often shifty dynamics of high school.

When we dance around as George Michael belts out “Freedom” in our living room, what my kids don’t know, is that a lanky, frizzy-haired, braces-wearing, junior high version of me is dancing around with us.

Our icons hold so many of our memories. Their characters, music, and invitation to be our unique selves, influenced and changed us. Losing them is personal because somewhere between birthday parties, graduations, first loves, careers, marriages, children, and the place we are now, we leaned on them and they lifted us up.

Parts of us are forever frozen in time with them.

Broken-hearted young adults, in tiny first apartments, listening to songs through muffled speakers of cheap boomboxes at 2AM.

Exuberant teenagers embarking on road trips, wielding handmade mix tapes, and blasting music through open windows of first cars.

Bold little girls on Halloween, who knew that a princess was more than crinoline dresses and high heels.

And now, as parents, we are able to pass along parts of ourselves to our kids simply by playing a song in the car, or taking them to a movie on their 10th birthday.

Our secret hope is that we teach our own children a little of what we have learned over the years:

That validation, comfort, and purpose can be found in the space between the lyrics of a song.

Sometimes “Little Red Corvettes,” “Purple Rain,” and a little “Faith” will pull you through.

A shimmering doe Patronus in the night sky teaches us all we need to know of bravery and unconditional love.

Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, and “Hallelujah” can heal almost anything.

The journey to finding your true self may just lie with a Goblin King in the middle of a “Labyrinth.”

And in the moments we are lost, and our path feels uncertain; in a galaxy far, far away―There is always hope.

This post was featured on The Huffington Post 

Our Eyes Adjust


My 3-year old and I have this deal at bedtime—two stories on my lap, five minutes of cuddle time, and a big ‘double hug’ goodnight. Each time, as I flip the lights off after stories and make my way to his bed, I am stopped in my tracks. It’s always darker than black and I can’t see. Even though it happens every night, I am never any less surprised. Every time, I have to take a minute and let the ambient light filter in before I can navigate through the darkness to his bed, and snuggle in beside him. Once my eyes adjust.

Adjust. Adapt. Move forward. It’s in our DNA; we evolve. Our beds, once warm with same-sized bodies and newspapers strewn about on lazy, Sunday mornings are now filled with miniature, ever-wiggling versions of ourselves, tiny feet in our backs, alarm clocks that never give us enough time to meet the demands of our day-to-day, and exhausted partners desperate for sleep, who don’t kiss us goodnight anymore. We barely even remember where we started. Our eyes adjust.

Our tiny babies, once so miraculous and novel, who filled us with meaning as they smiled for the first time, just for us; become burdensome as we struggle for sleep and  time to ourselves. They grow into bigger, saltier versions of themselves, challenging us at every turn, pushing us away and daring us to love them anyway. Instead of their cribs, we pick them up from school. Barely meeting our gaze—we know not to ask about their day. We hardly recall when they were once perched in bulky carseats, filling the air with non-stop-words. Our eyes adjust.

We get so busy living, we actually forget the moments that once shaped and defined us as parents. I don’t remember the last time I sat in a rocking chair with my shirt pulled up to my neck and sleepily nursed a child. Or the last time I zipped up footie pjs or snapped a onesie. I don’t remember the last time my oldest child held my hand or kissed me goodbye at school drop off. And I can’t remember the very last time I set him down and never picked him up again. Our eyes adjust.

New firsts crowd out the lasts so fast we don’t even have time to notice. Our lives fill up with milestones. Tiny, pudgy hands, are now lean, capable fingers; effortlessly playing piano keys and guitar chords. Clumsy toddler steps become swift and sure, as they steal home plate or kick the winning goal. Our laps, once filled with lift-the-flap bedtime books are instead dinnertime discussions of heroes and wizards who face complex moral dilemmas. Four protective stroller wheels transform into sturdy two-wheel bikes; shiny helmets and independence gleaming in the sunlight as we watch them ride away. As accomplishments pile up, trophies and schoolbooks replace finger-painted pictures and carefully constructed clay figures on bedroom shelves. Our eyes adjust.

If we’re lucky, the mundane takes over and we sail through the middle of life. Because darkness can strike unexpectedly, as my friends and I have seen all too well. Divorce, illness, saying goodbye too soon—to parents, friends, or God forbid, a child. In a blackout, the best you can do is stop, breathe, and wait for the ambient light to come. And it does, eventually. Me too, I’m here, I’ll wait, When you’re ready, I’ll listen. It seems insurmountable, but the darkness will lift. Our eyes will adjust.

We move forward. We move on. Some days we are so shiny and new, the future is bursting with promise. Other days we are caught off guard. Maybe it’s an old photo in the junk drawer, the look on someone’s face, a familiar smell, a memory that catches our breath, or the love-worn item we discover under the seat of our car—now forgotten and obsolete, but once full of context. Or it’s the stranger from Craigslist in our garage, thumbing through our kid’s old sleep sacks and checking the tread on tires of a worn down stroller, miles of memories, asking, “How much?” For a minute we lock eyes with them and envy where they are, looking ahead at what we’ve left behind. We close our eyes and soak it all in.

But when our eyes open, we are right where we belong; buttering the toast, feeding the dog, filling our car with gas, picking up way-too-big-and-sweaty bodies from baseball practice, or loading our old memories into someone else’s trunk in exchange for $60.  We move on from the moments we are caught in the dark; stopped in our tracks. We wait. We breathe. We count. And before we know it, we can see again and move forward in the direction we were heading.

Across the dark bedroom floor, to the bed with the little, warm, squirmy, not-yet-grown-up body, waiting to wrap themselves around us. Once our eyes adjust.

This post was featured on Mamalode 

To My Firstborn on the Last Christmas You (Kind of Don’t) Believe In Santa


My Darling Dubious Firstborn,

You may have figured out that Santa is not watching you. But I am. I’ve had my eye on you since you first caught sight of the stockings sticking out of one of the boxes we hauled down from the attic; skeptically surveying them as we set them by the mantle.

I saw you at the Christmas parade, steely and removed in your chair, never once allowing a smile or look of amazement to cross your face. You have uncovered the secrets of this game, and you’re not about to play along for One. More. Minute. You’ve not come right out and said it, but I, my dear, can feel it. The jig is up.

While it’s heartbreaking in many ways to see you cross the threshold into the realm of the non-believers; I’m comforted remembering our Christmases together.

Nine years chock-full o’ Christmas magic. We did not happen upon this place without intention. No, our journey has been full of purpose and tradition. Hopeful letters written, red-velvety laps sat in, cookies carefully decorated and placed by fireplaces, carrots divided amongst nine little buckets on lawns—reward for the long journey to your rooftop, and nine wondrous Christmas Eve’s with dreamy wishes swirling through your sleepy head (half listening for the sound of faint bells and click-clack hooves overhead)—experiences marking the years we’ve traveled to get here.

To your 10th Christmas; where you don’t hear the bell anymore.

Though I’m fighting the lump of nostalgia that keeps creeping into my throat, I’ve known it was coming. There have been signs. Three times last month I found Tangerine, your beloved stuffed orangutan, on the foot of your bed, instead of cozied up by your pillow.

And there was no asking about elves this year. Usually, you can’t wait for your elf to arrive and begin his month-long reign of all things silly, in various locations throughout the house.

But not this year.

The first morning your prized elf showed up with a cheeky grin and an acrobatic stance on the advent calendar, you didn’t even break stride or acknowledge he was there. Ignoring his twinkling expression completely, you reached deadpanned past him to retrieve your backpack and jacket, a signal that you wanted to head out the door – to fourth grade – where you’ve grown into a big kid, in what feels like a minute.

You’re growing up so fast, and I’ve never wanted to put you on pause. Every year brings a new version of you, and I’ve loved them all. But with each new rendering, I’m bidding farewell to a younger, more innocent boy. So if I stare at you longer than usual, or squeeze you extra tight, it’s because I am memorizing the you, you are now; before I say goodbye.

I’ve done this in a million invisible ways and tiny moments over the years—said goodbye to all the little yous.

Like the first time you ran off enthusiastically through the door to your preschool class, not turning back for a last kiss or hug.

Or the time you learned to put your shoes on by yourself and never needed me to strap or tie them for you again.

The first time I let go of your two wheel bike and you didn’t wobble or fall, but instead confidently rode off on the path, shouting out, “I’m doing it myself!” over and over in surprise.

When you figured out you preferred showers over baths, never sinking into bubbles or diving underwater with rubber duckies again; me on the side of the tub carefully rinsing the shampoo from your shiny, soft, little-boy-curls.

Or when you told me not to buy you snug fitting pajamas anymore, especially with things like Santa or reindeer on them. Snarky sayings or baseballs are fine—but no snowmen!

And just last year, you said, “Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t really want you to read to me before bed anymore. I just prefer to read to myself. I hope that’s OK?” (And of course it was, is okay, but I still had to take a minute and wash some dishes so you wouldn’t see me shed a few tears.)

You’re doing what you are supposed to do. Growing up. Every time you change and let a part of yourself go, it makes room for something new and wonderful to bloom.

But I know that this moment, this reluctant last year with Santa, is the gateway to a letting go of all the magical experiences that will now be relegated to a younger you. We are leaving the place of Easter eggs, tooth fairies, and leprechauns. I know that we’re turning a corner on your childhood and never coming back here again.

But with great knowledge comes great responsibility, and you my dear are now a magic-keeper for your little brother, and maybe your one-day children. You don’t know this yet, but you will get to visit this place again; through different eyes, but no less full of wonder. As I have with you.

Watching you watch Christmas unfold, through the eyes of a skeptical 9-year-old, is taking its toll on me. But I can’t help hoping that somewhere under your aloof exterior is a smaller, skinnier, more bouncy version of yourself, who will serve as your memory keeper.

A placeholder to a time in your life, when you left cookies for a man you believed flew all the way around the world just to grant your most important wishes. When you wrote heartfelt letters to a bearded stranger in a red coat to bring your “petrified baby dragon” to life.

When you darted down the stairs out of breath to survey the scene under the tree at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, and could barely get the words out fast enough to explain your joy. When exuberance and wonder filled you up, every December.

I hope that one day, when you’re tucking in your own child on Christmas Eve, or stringing lights on a tree with a loved one, that you are reminded of the wide-eyed, younger you, bundled up in snug, snowman pjs, looking into a starry night sky, waiting for any sign of Santa.

I love you with all my heart, all of the yous I’ve met so far, and all of the versions yet to come.

Merry Christmas Always,


P.S. I’ll wait for you to tell me, when you are ready, that you don’t believe. I’m honored to continue this journey with you, even if Santa will not be coming with us.

Dear Boss, Sorry, Not Sorry…I’m Taking A Sick Day

Dear Boss (AKA The Me Who Doesn’t Really Lounge Much and Forgets to Play With Her Kids):

I took a sick day today. In addition to the migraine that is trying to infiltrate my body—I just needed a day. If you want the truth, I think you did too. You can be really rigid with those to-do lists and schedules. Always rush. rush. rushing. You really did used to be a lot more fun before those tiny humans came along. Speaking of tiny people, you know who might have needed this day the most? Your youngest kid. (Sorry oldest kid, but you missed out, since you were off at school taking your responsibilities seriously. Clearly not a trait you get from me, as evident by the day your brother and I had.)

I got to spend a lot of time with Little-man today, just being. I didn’t feel 100%, but it wasn’t quite a sick-in-bed-and-can’t-move day, more like sick-enough-to-ignore-responsibilities-day, so we had some quality time to kick it together, completely guilt-free.

I didn’t want to do anything. The weather was gray and windy, perfect for shunting responsibility. There is A LOT I should have done today. I know you’ll get all anxious and edgy just thinking about this, but sometimes it’s best to face things head on; so here goes…

There are two full baskets of laundry that need folding, and another one in the dryer that may or may not be fully dry. (In fact, it’s quite possible that the whole load will need to be re-washed to avoid smelling like a car full of spilt milk on a hot day.)

I’ve also left you a sink-load of dishes that remain untouched…as in Not.Even.Rinsed.Off.

And you have a half-dozen emails and phone calls that need to be returned (some are actually time sensitive and important).

Instead of any of that, I did a lot of stuff I should probably do more of; that you should probably do more of.

Sorry, not sorry.

The day started with an extra long cuddle in bed after Little-man climbed in delighted that I wasn’t in a hurry to be anywhere else. He wasted no time getting in some “tummy touches”. (When he presses his belly into mine as much as he can while saying, Mommy, your belly is just. so. squooooshhhy! as though I’ve finally reached a long sought after and hard to achieve flabby-belly-status.)There were fuzzy covers and dogs everywhere. At one point there was a cat, but he took one look at us, flipped his tail and got on with his day; leaving us to our sloth-ing.

When we were ready, we moved our cuddle-fest to the couch. At this point your child was treated to a breakfast of champions: two cereal bars and a packet of fruit gummies. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t do anything. I had to retrieve a new box of bars from the pantry and open the d – – – things! Sometime during the “breakfast portion” of our day, I even heated up milk and put it in a “special cup” for your little cherub. And before you go all Judgy McJudgerson on me, he did not seem any worse for the wear.

Next, we parked ourselves on the couch for a good 90 minutes and watched a movie…yep, that’s right, an actual movie. Sure, it was animated, but it was also 90 minutes of nothing-doing. I know your almost-four-year-old is almost-never-still and has never actually watched a movie. (God knows you’ve tried.) Maybe his developmental readiness for cinema finally peaked, or…it could be that he was waiting for you to do what I did today:

Lie still (for more than 5 minutes), let him wrap his little legs around you under a cozy blanket (both of you in jammies) and watch…actually watch, the movie with him.

And that is what you did—no phone, no laptop, no getting up a million times to wash dishes, organize toys, or “check something”. Thanks to no caffeine and a dull headache that persuaded you to stay put, you just curled up on the couch with him, for the whole movie.

Today you were utterly free from distractions, and full of hugs.

After the movie, it was upstairs for a super-warm, extra-full bubble bath. (And I don’t mean to brag, but I was told it felt Juuust like a Hot Tub!) Instead of folding laundry, reading on your phone, or cleaning the toilet during said bath, like you usually do, I provided entertainment. There were intense submarine voyages where little knees and tiny toes were spotted underwater and tickled by “passengers” on the vessel. Giant whales in need of teeth brushing beached themselves on the edge of the tub and we both got to work scrubbing and singing along to Raffi…did I mention there was music? Yep, I pulled out all the stops on this one. And for the grand finale, not one…but two, hoodie towels were used, to keep in the warm.

Once he was in his coziest sweats, I read him his favorite book (the one he always wants you to read, that you have read a zillion times and usually hide under a pile of stuffed animals so you don’t have to ever read it again). Then, for old times’ sake, but mostly because I was too lazy to make the trek downstairs, I let him fall asleep on me in the rocking chair; all snug under a blanket. Since I had proclaimed myself task-free, I watched him for a while before laying him in his bed. I studied his little face as he breathed and watched his eyes twitch as he dreamed. I soaked him in and let the moments of our day sit with me, instead of rushing off to be somewhere else, do do something else…that can almost always wait.

Today I noticed that Little-man is not so little anymore. Did you know that in the bathtub, his long body stretches from end to end? And when he is wrapped in his superhero towel (the one that used to drag on the floor when he had the hood on), it barely hangs below his knees? And where the soft, pudgy, baby fat used to be, there are bony arms and legs everywhere? Did you know that his eyelashes are out of control? While we were drawing today, I noticed that when he looks down, they practically touch his cheek. Seriously, where did they come from, and can I have some?!

And since we are on the subject of faces; I discovered that lying nose to nose with a 3-year-old who is giggling is as restorative as soul-food, good music, and yoga combined.

I’ll just wrap up by saying, good for you, for giving me (us) this day to chill. You didn’t actually put up much of a fight, which makes me think there will likely be a lot more “sick days” in our future. I know it set us back a bit and we might all be wearing dirty clothes (or at least smelly) for a few days. But even if we are eating off of paper plates and playing catch up tomorrow, it was worth it. Little-man and I thank you for the time to reconnect and remember how lucky we are to be here, in this house, in this life…together; piles of laundry and all.

Oh, and tomorrow, when Little-man asks you to sit down and do a puzzle, or draw a picture, or hide under a blanket…from the dogs—do it. Not in a little bit, or later, or after you finish… Whatever it is; it can wait. (It waited today, and as far as I can tell, the world is still on its axis.) He is growing and changing so much, and you’ve already been missing it. When he asks you to play, say yes, enjoy him, be still with him. You’ll thank me later.


Your On-the-Mend and Grateful Self

P.S. A few other things…Pajamas can totally double as day wear if you go with neutral tones; proving that “getting dressed” is both overrated and unnecessary. As proof, Little-man told me on more than one occasion (referring to my robe) that he loooved my beauuuutiful dress! Oh, and the dogs are pretty restless and in need of a walk. And don’t bother turning on the front porch lights tonight, the bulbs still need replacing. And if it rains before I get around to reprogramming the drip system, the neighbors…and the environment—are your problem.

Thoughts on Phantom, Snape, and Sad Endings

dreamstime_s_20542150I took my 9-year-old to see The Phantom of the Opera, and I’m still recovering – in the good way. It was my 3rd time seeing it. Once through the eyes of a teenager full of angst, once as a young adult falling in love with her future husband, and now as a mother, watching her child experience something for the first time. Each time, I’m moved by the story, affected by the music, and saddened by the ending.

I wasn’t sure my son would understand the story enough to love it, or even like it, but I figured the experience couldn’t hurt. Besides, fancy drinks and concession stand goodies late on a school night, are the stuff memories are made of.

He was engaged from the start, never taking his eyes off the stage. I’d prepared him for the jarring sounds and visuals, which he got through emotionally intact. No surprise, he connected with the music. His love for all things instrumental has been present pretty much since birth. (This is the same kid who asked for a harp from Santa on his 3rd Christmas.) 

At intermission, he was full of words. He could barely get them out fast enough, “OMG the fire, the gunshots, and the chandelier!” As soon as the lights flickered telling us to take our seats, he was off down the corridor, warm chocolate chip cookie in hand, “C’mon Mom!”

From the first verse of “Masquerade,” he was transfixed. As the second half of the story unfolded, I realized I’d forgotten the intensity. He seemed okay but leaned into me as we saw the Phantom’s backstory explained through shadowy images projected on a wall. The shadows revealed how some characters had met their demise at the hands of the Phantom’s anger.

In the last scenes, the Phantom’s face is unmasked and disfigured – a startling visual for a 9-year-old. I watched my son’s expression turn to concern, unsure if he was reacting to the stage make-up, the change in mood when Christine Daae is being held captive, the intensity of the music, or the overall tension that filled the auditorium.

As the curtain came down for the last time, he clapped enthusiastically. Glancing sideways to check it was the end, hopeful it wasn’t. As soon as the applause quieted, I turned and waited to hear how much he loved it. Instead, he said, “I didn’t like the ending.”

“Why?” I asked, not expecting his reaction.

“I don’t like that the Phantom couldn’t be happy.” His face fixed in concern. I understood wholeheartedly how he felt – we’re conditioned to want a happy ending. 

Our discussion continued in the car, and at home as he was putting on his pajamas, long after bedtime.

“Why couldn’t they make it so he was at least a little bit happy?” He said pulling a plaid fleece shirt over his head. Why did he have to be so alone?” And with tears in his eyes, as he reached for his toothbrush, “Are there really people who have that sad of a life?” 

Parenting is not for the weak (or for those who like to sleep). My motto is: be honest whenever possible. The short answer was,Yes, people do have that sad of a life. But did we really need to cover the injustices of humanity at 11:30 on a school night?

My son’s a reader, so I grasped for characters he knew; hoping to insert a fictional buffer into our conversation. The depths of hardships faced by kids all over the world: abuse, neglect, poverty, bullying, would have to wait for an earlier time of day, preferably on the weekend, or when my husband wasn’t out of town.

He’s obsessed with all things Harry Potter, so I tried Voldemort.

“No Mom, Voldemort had a hard childhood, but he was bad from the beginning. He didn’t even try to be good. The Phantom was born with a different face and was put in a circus and put in a CAGE. Anyone would have turned bad after being treated like that!” 

Ok, good point. And man this kid really paid attention to the plot.

“Are people really treated like that in real life?”


Clearly, he needed more, midnight on a school night or not.

Enter brutal truth. “Yes. Some children never get a fair start. They’re born into much different environments than you and your brother. Some kids are bullied their whole lives, and it changes them, and sometimes they make bad choices out of anger or fear. And we can’t always do anything about it. The only thing we can control is how we treat others. We have to remember that everyone has a backstory – even those who act in ways we don’t understand.”

Wheels spun behind his big brown eyes. “Yes, mom, like Snape! Everyone thought he was bad, but he was so good.”

Ok, we’re back to fiction, phew! “Yes, like Snape.”

“He is actually the hero. He loved Lilly the most. And James isn’t what Harry thought; I bet Harry is ashamed of James.” 

Oh boy, we’re digging deep, and it’s not getting any earlier. “Well, yes, in some ways, but people aren’t perfect, even those we love the most. We have to accept all of them, even the parts we don’t like. And yes, even the good guys can be complicated.”

“Mom, James is a bully! And Snape loves Lilly so much that he protects Harry, even though he reminds him of James – who bullied him. And when his Patronus is a doe, it’s sooo saaad!”

Barely coming up for air, he continued, “And Mom, The Phantom was bullied and treated terribly, and the only way he could escape was to fight and to hurt the people hurting him. And no one ever loved him. It’s just so sad.” 

Why couldn’t I have just taken him to see Storks?!

I had to get us out of this somehow before the sun came up. He hates mushy stuff and kissing, but I had no choice. Because school. We needed to put a period on this conversation and go to bed. It was time to talk about the ending that started this conversation. So. Long. Ago. So we talked about the kissing. Ewww!

“Why do you think Christine Daae kisses the Phantom at the end?” He crinkled his nose up a bit, but I noticed no signs of fake gagging or grunts of disgust. 

He was thinking. 


If we were going to discuss kissing, I needed to do the talking, but he was listening.

“Well I think it was to show him he was worth loving, he was worth something, and not a monster. And in turn, he let her go because he loved her.” 

To my surprise, there was no cringing. No, Gross, Mom! Just a question.

“Mom, Do you think he ever found a friend or anyone who was nice to him? Or was he alone forever?”

Continuing with the truth-telling, I said, “I don’t know.”

And that was enough for now. He quietly climbed the stairs to his room. 

He crawled into bed (taking a dog with him to cuddle) and said more to himself than to me, “But it was just a story.” 

Yes, it was. A sad story. And his little boy heart will learn as he goes, what I already know.

The sad ones stick. The sad ones move you. The sad ones are often the most important to tell. They are the voice for those not destined for happy endings, but who deserve to have their stories told.

My son is sensitive. (Though we never use the S-word since I’ve heard it enough for both of us.) I tell him he feels things deeply. He does, he always has, which makes him complicated. I know how he feels because he gets it from me.

It’s a blessing and a curse. Just like James Potter, and Snape, and The Phantom, it’s what makes us imperfect and vulnerable, and sometimes taxing on the ones who love us most.

But it’s part of our story, and it’s the only one we know how to tell.