My daughters are four and six.
When I was a child and still lived in that town, there was a boy's name whispered in admonition. Don't go near the river. I think his name was David. His last name would have been one of a dozen that appeared again and again on the rolls of our small town community and I'm sorry that I can't recall it. He drowned in the river, probably before I was born, his friends afraid to get help because they weren't supposed to play at the river, his story memorialized in every venture across the threshold of the front porch door.
He was a specter cast in my mother's voice against our thoughts of fun before we even had our shoes tied.
I still regularly played by the river; I just never told my mother about it.
I've walked through that alley and I played by that river and I'm here to claim adulthood and remember the smell of algaed moss drying on rocks in sunlight if not the surname of the boy who drowned by those rocks.
I've had a few terrible moments in life and some astonishingly wonderful ones but mostly I've just meandered along and now I'm here, and that's either the most boring fact or wonderful luck but I can't stop thinking about that five-year-old girl, and my own three littles tucked asleep above my head.
I've told my kids about my adventures on the river and I even showed the older two, but I never mention to them the boy who drowned.
I'm feeling extra-tender toward the experiences of children today as we navigate the beginning of first grade, but come back tomorrow for a proper update since today was only the first-first day and tomorrow is the proper second-first day. Please send my nervous girl some strength.
This post is inspired by Sarah McCoy's The Baker's Daughter, where Jewish children hide from Nazis in the '40s and Mexican children hide from US Customs deportation officials in 2007 and my feeble heart worries too much about kids all over the place. Join From Left to Write on August 29 as we discuss The Baker's Daughter. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
Actually, the publisher accidentally sent me two copies of the book, so if you're local and want to read it, let me know.