My son is napping right now.

I usually want him to sleep as long as he can.  It not only means he’s a little less prone to be grouchy later in the evening, it also means I get a few more minutes to sit still.

I want him to wake up.  (I am not such a fool as to actually wake him.)  I want him to wake up so I can hold him for as long as I can.  I want him to wake up so I can squeeze tight in my arms the person I most want to protect in all the world.  (I will no doubt feel the same way about his sister in due time, but for now I can rest easy knowing she is never out from under our roof without us.)  I want him to wake up so I can tell him over and over and over and over how precious he is.

I am unable to spend any length of time thinking about what the parents of the dead children in Connecticut are going through.  I lose my composure all over again the minute I let myself dwell there.  So instead I think of the police officers and nurses and doctors and everyone else who is even now doing their best to care for those who might still be saved, and those who will be offering what comfort might be found for the devastated and bereaved.  May God keep their eyes clear and their hands steady.

I have no other words.  I want to drive to my son’s school this very minute and erect ramparts and dig moats and surround the whole thing with concertina wire.  I want to scream useless curses at the unknown name of the broken, broken man who did this.

But mostly right this minute I want my son to wake up, and never ever let him go.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I feel the same. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my youngest at my office where she meets me after her one block walk from the bus stop. All of the college students are gone and too much quiet here is getting the best of me. I’m trying to figure out how I can greet her with breaking down.

  2. Bless him, Doc. Today, and in 15 years, too.

    It’ suchs a difficult world out there for boys; as they age, they may still be innocent, but they’re often met with suspicion. I wonder if you see that with you patients? And sometimes, even when man-children are non-violent, they encounter violence along the way. They’ve got to be able to talk on it, too. And that’s difficult, too. It’s not just keeping them safe when they’re small; it’s keeping them safe and savvy as they grow, until they grow beyond frightening and finally become men.

  3. I am not a parent (yet) and I know that my relationship with my students does not compare to a parent’s relationship with his/her child. But as I said to Johanna elsewhere, I think parents tend to be their own worst critics, especially in moments of crisis. Yes, there do exist children who are unloved or underloved: I have one in my class this year. But the vast majority of children are amply loved and know it. Moments like this might make you think you haven’t hugged or kissed them enough and that you never will be able to, but trust me… I’ve worked with hundreds of kids in my life and the vast majority of them are so full of love that their parents should never feel inadequate.

    Do indeed hug your son, as much and as often as you can. You probably already are doing that, more than you even realize.

    • I am pretty sure he’s beginning to wonder what’s going on with the massive uptick in the number of hugs I’m giving him this afternoon.

      • I wonder if it’s okay to tell him you heard a sad thing, that some other little children were hurt today, and it makes you sad, and makes you remember how much your love your little children?

        Because then if he does here a radio report, adults talking, the TV news, etc., he’s armed with your words of love first.

        • He’s still too young to pay any attention to that kind of thing, so I doubt any questions will be coming.

          I am probably horribly naive to hope that we’ll manage to find a way to prevent this kind of senseless horror by the time he’s old enough to know.

          • Naive?

            Wishing to prevent senseless horror is never naive. It’s human, our ability to hope for something better. It’s what inspires us to find cures for illnesses, to build safer cribs, to find kinder ways to raise our children. That turning away from horror and toward hop is what allows us to expand our definition of family to include instead of exclude.

            If that’s naive, then cling to it with all your might.

          • (hope, not hop; though fear of horror might encourage us to turn to hops, well fermented.)

          • You’re doubtless correct. But kids of any age, especially little ones, have an exquisite sensibility to the feelings of their parents. You’ve been through a rough patch yourself, if this post is any indication. Bottling up your own feelings in the presence of your son is almost impossible, he’ll know something has happened. You’re right about him not bringing up any questions but he’ll know you’ve been shaken.

            You might need some comfort, too. This is a senseless horror. It’s a world filled with horrors. But it’s a world filled with beauty and decency and your son’s love. You might indulge yourself in a bit of that most precious of sentiments. For you are loved, Russell. Now is when you might reach out for some of it.

          • I’ll be honest and confess that there have been countless times recently where I’ve considered divorcing myself from the LoOG. But it is interactions like that make me stay. And, not coincidentally, Russell and (more recently) Zic are often at the center of them.

            Thank you.

          • I would hope you’d stick around, Kazzy. This is a better community for having you here. And, of course, thank you very much for the kind words.

          • Thanks. The reasons for my mixed thoughts are more about my own shifting priorities and goals in life and less about the place here. But goddamnit if I’m a sucker for mature, adult conversation. 🙂

  4. It hit the news out here shortly after my son came home from daycare.

    I sat on the couch, absolutely stunned – CT is where I grew up, and I’m familiar with Newtown. My son came in the door, looked at me sitting on the couch with tears in my eyes and sat down next to me, and laid his head on my shoulder.

    “I love you, Mommy.”

    And all I could do was snatch him up close and hug him tightly – and think about the parents that will never get to do that again.

  5. I cuddled with my son for so long before bed last night that I fell asleep in his tiny toddler bed with him. So worth it. I wish I could help the parents who will never cuddle their babies again.

  6. I’m guessing the horror will really sink in when they put up the pictures of all those kids, probably their school pictures, with half of them missing front teeth as their baby teeth fall out, and they’re all smiling big and goofy. I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand that.

    • I really don’t know how I’ll manage to read the news over the next 48 hours.

      Part of me (a big, big, big part) wants to just look away and hope I can avoid looking at those pictures. But that just doesn’t seem right.

      My throat already feels like it’s going to close shut seeing the pictures of the teachers who died, heroically from what I read. I don’t know how I’ll keep my shit together when it’s the kids’ pictures.

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