Saturday, May 10, 2003

UNFAIRNESS: When I opened up The Tennessean this morning, I saw depicted in full color photography the face of evil, or rather a face of evil, Karen Lynn Lovell, mother of a three-year-old son, holding a gun to his head. She had escaped from county prison, abducted her son at gunpoint from her sister, the legal guardian, and had finally been cornered after a car chase in which she ran down a deputy sheriff. She put the gun to the child's head and told the police she would shoot him if they didn't back off. Fortunately, a deputy sheriff shot her instead, in the temple. The police caught her son, spattered with blood, as she crumpled to the ground. Amazingly, she survived, for now. I have a three year-old boy too. I love him and hug him and play with him and make him sit in the corner or whap his backside as necessary. He's a good kid, and I often marvel at how lucky I am to have him and just to know him and watch him grow. And I fret about the days when I'm not perfect and I lose my temper too quickly or I can't find the time to do the umpteenth puzzle or whatever game he wants to play. Tonight I read him a story and we had our usual cuddle and talking time after the lights were out. When my son complains that I won't give him a second doughnut, toy, story, puzzle, whatever, I tell him that life isn't fair. That's how safe and comfortable our lives are; my son has learned the concept of "unfairness" by our unwillingness to give him what he wants, which of course isn't unfairness at all. Yet somewhere else in Tennessee another three-year-old is going to bed knowing his mom pointed a gun to his head, got hurt very badly, and is now now lying in a hospital. That little boy has learned unfairness not just from his mother's unwillingness to give him what he needs, but her willingness to harm him. I'm thankful some days, when I know I haven't been the perfect mommy, that three-year-olds' have fuzzy memories. For this little boy, I pray simply that he can forget, because I don't see how else he, or anyone else, could survive learning such a cruel lesson.

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