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But Don’t You Feel Sad For The Rat Mom?

My family is blessed to live in a wonderful suburb just North of San Francisco. Our home is in close proximity to a quaint little town as well as hiking and biking trails leading into the forest just steps from our door. Although I try not to think about it, we also share our wonderful little corner of the world with plenty of rats who enjoy the ivy, fruit trees, and bleeding heart naturalists who wouldn’t even consider putting out rat poison in fear of hurting the ecosystem (I count myself in that camp by the way, and the rats apparently really appreciate the concern).

One evening recently, my eldest son spotted a dead rat laying in our backyard and reported this information to us in a rather dramatic fashion. He kinda screamed something like…Dead Rat, Dead Rat, Dead Rat!!! My immediate inner reaction was of seemingly grave concern. Rats carry diseases. The dogs might get close to it. Maybe it’s not actually dead. Does it have a large family living nearby?

My youngest son immediately pointed out how cute it was and started walking towards it. “Don’t get too close”, I shouted. But Mom…”Don’t you feel sad for the rat?” he asked me. I immediately knew I was over-reacting but just couldn’t quite let the fear welling up subside enough to join him in pure humanity. This little boy wasn’t carrying all of the adult knowledge and fears I was. To him, this was simply a cute little animal who had died…a perfect reason to be compassionate. I rushed into the garage and found an old towel to throw over the dead rat hoping to keep my dogs from inspecting it. “Is that how we are going to bury it?” he asked. Oh man, I wasn’t thinking about burying it at all…I was just buying time until my husband got home later in the evening and could handle the situation.

One glance over to that boys sad little face and I finally came to my senses, took a breath and became human again. “Let’s take a moment and send the rat some loving-kindness and blessings as its spirit makes its journey”.  My sons shoulders finally came down, his body relaxed, his face softened. His mother seemed to have joined him on his planet again. His compassion was big enough to make room for the both of us.

Upon reflection it all seems so simple now. Aren’t we lucky to have our children to show us the way?

Baseball, Sorrow, & Water Balloons

A little league story…

Ten to nine score against the Pirates.

Two batters out and one left to go.

Bases Loaded.

Here comes the pitch….

And… Strike Out!

Next comes the shock… the sorrow… the tears… the loss…

My husband helps coach my sons little league team with two other incredible men who held these ten year old boys disappointment with utter compassion and love. They all agree that learning to lose and experience disappointment is one of the most important lessons they will gain playing the game. They let them have their emotions, sat with them as they cried, offered them a gentle pat on the back. They allowed their sadness to move through them without chasing it away.

This team worked hard all season and had their sites set on going far in the championship tournament… they could only lose one more game, and this loss took the wind out of them all.

A few days later the team was scheduled for practice before their next big championship game. Their coaches had something special for them planned. When the boys showed up at practice, instead of playing baseball they were having a water balloon toss and the opportunity to pelt their coaches with water-balloons just a little while later. They ran around, giggled, and just enjoyed the sunshine and outdoors. These incredibly wise coaches saw the need for play, community & connection as more important then skill building for the next game. What they taught these boys that day was that life was bigger than this next baseball game. They could choose to lighten up, laugh, and enjoy the journey, not taking too seriously was was to come next.

I’m admittedly just a tad bit biased regarding how special it was to see these emotionally intelligent men attend to these young boys. But I will say that my husband and his co-coaches brought just a little more hope into my world that our boys will grow into the kind of men this world needs. Wise. Tender. Brave. Purposeful.