Snow fell heavily on the life of the Parent Imperfect and family this week, and they are still digging out. The thick white blanket resulted in two days without school, a rare joy to Vince and Connie, who suddenly became junior meteorologists. For the PI, life turned upside-down as “working at home” became something of an impractical joke.
Not just the heavy snow weighed on them this week. The tragedy in Tucson also has been on everyone’s mind. The night after it happened (Sunday night), the PI and Liz decided to bring it up at the dinner table. It was sure to be a topic of conversation at both the Hernandez and the nation’s oldest public school. Vince, of course, already knew quite a bit about the rampage via the Internet, Facebook, etc., but Connie remained innocent to the depravity of her countrymen. (or this one, at least).
Vince was ready for the PI to trot out the video game connection–which was already coming to light. The PI abstained, though, in favor of a focus on how Connie would experience the random shooting of so many people, including a Congresswoman and a little girl born just a few days before she was. This was very upsetting for Connie, and difficult to understand. Sadly, she’s seen enough angry young men to have some understanding of such young men shooting each other, but this was something different.
This man was shooting random people, just to shoot them. If someone could do this in Arizona, why couldn’t someone else do it at her church, or her school or why couldn’t a person with this kind of illness show up at one of her brother’s soccer games? They could talk about the sickness that this man apparently had, and all of the special circumstances of this crime, but Liz and the PI couldn’t really answer that question. Could you?
Even without answers, they were happy to have taken the time to talk about it. When it came time for Connie to sleep, she did so, which was something of a surprise to her parents. The PI stayed awake late that night, fully expecting the call of nightmares, but no call came.
Then came the snowstorm, which focused most conversations on whether or not snow days were in order. On Wednesday night (the night the storm ended) Connie, Liz and the PI (Vince had taken gone sledding with a friend in a nearby cemetery) joined a group of neighbors for a magical walk in the Arboretum. While turning Harvard’s playground into a Winter Wonderland, the weight of the snow had twisted some trees in strange ways and broken apart others. In the reflected pink light of the city, the whole scene was spectacular and surreal, in equal measures.
Upon their return from the walk, all landed in a neighbor’s living room to drink something warm and watch the Celtics. By coincidence, halftime in the Celtics game occurred at precisely the moment when the President began his speech at the Memorial Service for the victims of the Tucson shooting.
A quick channel change to avoid half-time turned into 40 minutes of attention on a man who man who seemed to re-capture something that had been lost in two long years of “incivility.” The PI wished for at least the third time that night that Vince had been with them.
The PI kept one eye on the flat screen and the other on Connie, who seemed mesmerized. Her expression become even more intense when the President turned to the story of 9-year-old Christina, and mentioned the day of her birth…September 11, 2001. What writer could have made this up? Liz was nine months pregnant with Connie on that fateful day.
At about this time, Laura sensed that this might be too much (or too little) for Connie, and she offered Connie an iPhone to play with. Not surprisingly, the screen quickly took Connie far away from Tuscon until after the speech ended and the basketball game returned.
The PI later asked Connie what she thought as she saw the President talking about Christina.
“It made me really, really sad. It didn’t make me want to see any more of it. That’s why I told Laura I was bored…not because I was bored, but because I didn’t want to see any more of it.”