Thursday, May 24, 2007

Teachable Moment

Ben is sitting in the study, ostensibly working on thank you cards for the Wii he received for his birthday. He's also snuffling quietly.

We went down to Nashville last weekend, visited family, celebrated the high school graduation of a cousin/niece. "We" of course is a group defined as mom, dad, boys and favorite pelagic stuffed friends--Willy the orca, Hamtoro the hammerhead shark, and Phil the tiger shark. (Yes, we are singlehandedly keeping the Riverhead Aquarium afloat (pun intended) via gift shop purchases. And your point is???)

There were a great many people staying at the house--makeshift beds and air-mattresses everywhere upstairs. And, of course, part of the fun in a situation like this (did I mention that there was also a triple bunk bed) is to sleep in a different spot every night...

Well, all we know is that by Sunday we couldn't find the much-beloved Phil the tiger shark. We looked in every room, under every bed, in between every set of sheets and inside every duffle bag. No Phil.

Was foul play involved? Maybe. Ben is the youngest in his tier of cousins: the rest are tweens and teens who might have gotten tired of hearing about the ecological plight of our cartilaginous friends. I dunno what to think. They're good kids in this family...but they are still kids. Sigh. Phil was really well hidden, if that is the case...

Ben came up with the idea of making a poster of Phil using FD's Toys and emailing it to the family. If Phil did disappear under nefarious circumstances, maybe the poster and reward will warm a hardened heart enough to bring him back to us. (If not...I've got to get out to the aquarium within the next couple of days to buy a new Phil and dirty him up just a little without anyone else noticing.) Ben made the poster himself using the "motivator" tool at Fd's and we sat down together, his first real foray into email, with the family's addresses to send them off when he was done.

It kills me, though. I know Ben is eleven. HE believes that he is too big to cry over something like this...but every once in a while, the emotion just catches up with him and it's heartbreaking. He tries to be stoic ("No, I must have gotten something in my eye--I'll be better in a minute, don't worry" [he comes from a long, proud tradition of wussy liars]). It's that struggle with his sadness and my inability to help him feel better that are making me antsy.

I guess I should get a little used to that concept. He's growing up.

We learned today that Roman women were considered legally marriageable at age 12 (though most waited until the ripe age of 14)...Ben's almost there now. And, obviously, he will experience hurts worse than this where I will be even less able to intervene.

Hate that, though. Absolutely hate that.

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