latest recipes - the lemon tahini dollop is what grabbed me).
This morning on the way to school Frances observed that everyone she knows has gone on a ski vacation with his or her family this winter. Why don't we ever go skiing? Gabriel piped up, adding "or snowboarding at least??" This came just a couple of days after Frances asked me on our walk if she would ever have a horse, like some of her friends do. Or a gold bracelet with her horse's name engraved on it, like one friend in particular. No Frances, I don't think you will have a horse.
And this morning, I was a bit ragged around the edges with a cold and the residual effects of a madder-than-usual dash out the door, and I told Frances that many of her friends at school have a lot more money than we do, and not everyone goes on ski vacations every winter. In fact, hardly anyone does. It just seems like a lot of people do because you go to a fancy private school!
Oh, I do believe I became high and mighty, and lectured in a rather unhelpful way about how we are blessed with far more than most human beings on the planet, and how her school is great for SO many reasons but one of them is not teaching children firsthand about who all the different kinds of people are that live in our community. How could ski vacations and horse ownership be my second grader's peer group norm???
At one point she said pointedly and with a daring frown, "So I guess we're poor then." Buttons effectively pushed, thank you. I came right back swinging, about how we have so many riches in our lives (you may gag now): love, friends, family, plenty to eat (potfuls of carrot soup!), etc. "Oh, so we get to have breakfast and take walks together? Great, Mama." (Insert eye roll).
Really?? I loved my yogurt and fruit and granola this morning! I love our walks! But sure, yes - and this I did not say aloud - a ski vacation would be nice too.
The truth is, I imagine, not so much that she is comparing her possessions to those of her friends at school but rather that she is picking up on the provider anxiety that comes with new babies around here, the small panic that rippled through her parents when we discovered our second car required more work than it is worth the day after we bought a minivan, the little groans that come with certain bills. She seems worried, in a global, inchoate sense, that there won't be enough. And can you imagine? Shaking her by the shoulders and insisting through gritted teeth that we are rich in love and that's enough!! does not seem to be reassuring her.
Back when I worked on Fresh Air, Terry used to note how curious it was that people were happy to answer questions about failed marriages, past abuse, and drug addiction yet became offended if asked about their money. I can only begin to understand why I became so agitated this morning when Frances suggested we were poor and said she wished we had more money. All kinds of unsettled questions and worries - the dark, murky bottoms of which I cannot see from here - got stirred up in me.
Could it all have had anything to do with the call that I received an hour later, saying that Frances felt sick and needed to go home? She was suspiciously chipper when I picked her up in the lower school office. Maybe she needed reassurance of another sort (not the shoulder-shaking kind).
Oh Frances. There will always be enough.