Sometimes when really bad and tragic and scary stuff happens, I try really hard to keep it on the periphery. Like when the student-athlete rapist got that shit sentence. I only vaguely knew the story for a long time. I scrolled past stories on Facebook, deliberately not diving in to get the details. Same with any of the racially charged killings by white cops, murders of trans people, refugee crises, and church and school shootings. I know about them — but not the details. They’re like photos with intentionally blurred backgrounds. I keep the sharp focus on my family, my life, my kid, my job.

Eventually, when the initial wave of trauma passes, I look for details. Search news archives, google images of things from months past. I find out the story, but only after the world has stopped acutely grieving.

This time was no different. I’d scrolled past articles and posts and hashtags last night and all morning. Another shooting. Terrorism. A nightclub. Far away. Not here. And that was all I knew for hours. For some reason, though, I sharpened the image sooner.

This afternoon, The Who and I went to Panera for lunch. While he was up at the register ordering and paying for his brownie, I quickly scrolled through Facebook. Yesterday was Pride in Philly and friends of mine posted photos of their families marching in the first parade we have skipped in years. There were all the queers and allies they were smiling in the photos like they always do, but the joy was missing. And then something caught my eye. The word “Orlando” in rainbow colors. I hadn’t noticed before then that this far away tragedy, this remote incident of terrorism was at a gay bar. In my hasty scrolling until then, I hadn’t realized that this was a direct hit. I clicked on one of the stories and in the five short minutes that The Who was off buying his dessert, I brought myself fully up to speed. And then, somehow, when he came back, it felt like I was keeping something from him. He knows so much about so much already. He does harder math problems in his head than I can do. He told me the other day about a rule of baseball I had never known. He’s understood artificial insemination since he was three.

“A really sad and scary thing happened yesterday,” I told him as he took a monster bite of his frosted brownie. He looked at me earnestly, his mouth ringed in chocolate. “What happened?” he asked. So I told him. I told him about terrorists and what it means to want to make people afraid. And about hatred and fear and ignorance. About intolerance and anger and impulsivity. Gun control. Politics. Airports. 9/11. Choices. Fear. Love. Goodness. It was a much deeper conversation than I had expected when we set out for a casual mac-n-cheese date an hour earlier.

He asked a lot of questions. “Why didn’t they rebuild the World Trade Center?” “What happened to the terrorists? Did they go to jail for the rest of their lives?” “Did you know anyone who died in the nightclub?” “Did any of the runners die in the marathon bombing or just people watching?” And then: “You and Mommy are so lucky you don’t live in Orlando. If there was someone here who wanted to kill people just because they loved someone who was the same gender, you could have been killed.” So we talked about luck. And location. And fear some more.

“Why would anyone want to kill people just because they’re gay?” he asked on our way to the car. I answered him, as I always do, as honestly and directly as I could, but it was hard when I didn’t have all the answers. “I don’t know why terrorists do the things they do,” I told him and I was reminded of something we recently heard on a kids’ science podcast about space being infinite. About how no matter how far out you go, you will always be able to go further. That just when you think you’ve gotten to the end of space, more space has been created as you’ve been traveling and so there’s even more. And more. And more. The idea of infinity is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. And this is why, I think, I scroll by the stories. Why I keep the edges blurry. The more I know, the longer I think about it, the closer I get to understanding, the clearer it becomes that there actually is no end. Every time I think I’ve heard the worst, steeled myself against the worst, thought about the worst thing that could ever happen, I find that more happened while I was traveling.

Not wanting to leave The Who with the same sense of despair that I have, I thought about Fred Rogers and his comment on looking for the helpers. I reminded him that the good thing — the thing that we can hold onto — is that even though there are these terrible people and these terrible things, the world has way, way, way more good in it than bad. “Yeah,” he said, eagerly. “Like, there’s probably only a million bad people in the world, but there are 7 billion people in the whole world. That’s like barely any bad people when you think about it.” His pragmatism is staggering sometimes. Maybe I can find a way to take a page out of his book.


We were hotter than we wanted to be. We spent too much money. The Phillies didn’t win. But it was one of the best family days we’ve had in a long time.

Today we took The Who to his first Phillies game. It was actually his first major league game ever (he has only ever seen the Paw Sox and he only vaguely remembers it.)


Realizing, this morning, that he didn’t have a Phillies shirt to wear to the game, he begged me to make one for him. What is a t-shirt-making mom good for if not  making on-demand shirts for her kid? Fifteen minutes later, we were good to go.

We were lucky enough to sit in the Hall of Fame club section, which came complete with cushiony seats, an amazing view of the field, and separate air conditioned food stands, bathrooms, and tables. Plus, (sorry, Phils fans) since the team’s not doing amazingly well these days, all the seats around us were empty, which gave us lots of room to hang out. The Who could stand most of the game, looking out over the field and we were all able to put our feet up on the chairs in front of us.


Bonus: it was sort of like a mini museum inside there. This was an original turnstile from the ballpark where the Phillies (actually, the Philadelphia A’s) played in the early 1900s.


Double-bonus, the ridiculously clean and spacious bathrooms in this fancy section had floors that looked like grass. Try to pretend you don’t know I was taking photos in the bathroom.

I had packed a bag full of entertainment, expecting The Who to tire of the game eventually, especially because we got there two hours before the first pitch was even thrown.


We started out with some tailgating. I sat in the car, of course, while m* tossed the football around with The Who.

But, as it turned out, we didn’t need any of it. He declined offers of writing and drawing and playing on the phone because he was actually completely enthralled by the game.


I was completely enthralled by taking selfies in my wife’s cap.


The writing and drawing offers kept coming from this little kid, also at her first game. She desperately wanted to hang out with The Who and kept sidling up to him wherever he was. She offered to do a Star Wars math workbook with him at least five times, which he politely refused. She did finally win him over by offering to share her baseball cards with him.


This must have been a special occasion because my rule generally is that he’s not allowed to eat anything that turns his mouth a different color. (Blue raspberry water ice was the culprit this time.)


“Don’t they have any *decent* snacks? Like candy or something?” he asked when I offered him popcorn or Cracker Jacks. Ice cream seemed to be a fair enough alternative.

It was a great day. We cheered a few early home runs, double high-fived in the air, and ate ice cream out of a tiny souvenir helmet. If that’s not everything you’d want a kid’s first game to be, I don’t know what is.