"You will NOT believe what happened," Ittybit says emphatically as she dumps her coat and boots on the entryway floor and runs toward the refrigerator.
"Melanie’s mom SHOT her," she says, rummaging through the crisper.
"On the balcony. ... It was an accident," she says, crunching a celery stalk. "She had just gotten married and they didn’t even have a honeymoon! Melanie didn’t even know her mother WAS Carly."
"See, more effective gun control would keep those accidents from happening," I say, closing the door she left open.
She watches "Days of Our Lives," with her babysitter.
I don’t really see much wrong with it, to be honest. My mom watched daytime dramas, too. We always laughed at how Salem must be the amnesia capital of the world.
I still laugh about how my husband found out the twists and turns of naptime adventure, for a non-napping kindergartener anyway, had nothing to do with blankets in a playpen.
"I think the babysitter might be pregnant," my husband whispers to me one night before dinner.
"I don’t think so," I say a little confused. "That’s something I’m sure she would have told me. What makes you think that?"
"Oh … It was something Ittybit said to her as we were leaving … something about seeing a doctor about a baby."
"Oh that. Tat’s just Greenlea ... or Melanie ... or Gormley ... or somebody-E ...
"Characters on the soaps she watches."
He starts to laugh. The television addict in him knows what serial plots can do to a person home during prime daytime hours.
At least there’s humor in the absurd.
Since Ittybit started school, however, real-life plot twists and heartaches have encroached upon her little corner of the world. Illness, death, divorce are all words we’ve started to define. She’s having trouble understanding the concept of two moms or two dads, despite knowing kids who have them.
Sometimes I find myself wondering why anyone would want to get married.
I know there’s a bunch of folks out there who think in narrow and sanctimonious terms: "Marriage is between man and a woman. Period. End of discussion."
They talk about the children and families as if homosexuals don’t have either.
I don’t think that way.
I usually object to the kind of thinking that is drawn with such straight and narrow lines. For that matter, I usually object to any line of thinking that locks out other thought.
Thoughts, in my opinion, shouldn’t be set in stone. Thoughts have to be free to roam, and they should keep their bags packed.
But I’m just one person who can’t help noticing that the people making a mockery of marriage aren’t characters on television. They aren’t even people who can’t or won’t buy in to the rite of passage. Marriage is hurt by the folks who enter it so poorly prepared to handle difficult times.
I thought about all of this when Ittybit came home from school, kicked off her boots, rummaged through the refrigerator, and announced that the police had visited one of her friends’ houses.
A real friend.
"So-and-So’s dad put his hands around So-and-So’s mom’s neck," she said, matter-of-factly. "Now he can’t go to their house anymore."
We’re always telling her the difference between real and fiction. This is
"That won’t happen to us, will it?"
"This won’t happen to us," I say as calmly as possible, trying to be reassuring.
I don’t know what else to say. This isn’t theater of the absurd. This is the just the beginning of one child’s awareness that everything is not always fine.
And it’s the story of another little girl, who came to school with a heart-wrenching tale to tell, that illustrates the sad truth behind heightened security measures in our schools: The most common danger to children isn’t a stranger, or a character on a television screen. The most likely source of harm comes from the people already in their lives, even their own parents.