June 1, 2010. As I reflect tonight on Memorial Day Weekend, the annual kickoff to summer, with a few minutes hopefully carved out between watermelons for patriotic reflection, I count my blessings. Even though of late I feel I have so few that I can count them on one hand, I know it isn’t true. Sophie fell off her pony today learning to canter. Bruised and scared but otherwise unharmed, I counted my blessings. It could have been worse. This weekend we took the kids to Mudge Pond, which is 30 miles east, in Connecticut. We swam and canoed, our movements in the water creating gentle wakes of shimmering sunlight dancing across the clear, unspoiled surface. It was a quiet place, not at all crowded, and Peter found a few boys to play with while Sophie dared herself, again and again, to swim to the floating dock, a good fifty yards out, where she jumped off the high dive. I should have counted my blessings then but I didn’t, and so I will now. Peter played with the same boys for two days straight, both nearly four years younger than he, but well matched developmentally. Two years ago he would have dug a stick around in the sand and called it good. This weekend Pat and I witnessed real progress, and for that I’m grateful. We relaxed, and I could feel the tension slide, just a little, off my husband’s reddening shoulders as we watched our children embracing the world with their own unique sets of interests and talents; Sophie challenging herself, always striving toward greater physical accomplishment, and Peter reclaiming, if only in snippets, part of his lost rights of boyhood. We tried in earnest this weekend to set aside our considerable worries, our existential experience with the school district, not to mention the ambushes we endure because we adamantly oppose the idea that special education should be permitted to embrace an existential philosophy. And we were more or less successful. I wasn’t pleased to find a boy’s pair of size 12 black briefs in the dirty laundry bin, but Pat and I made an unspoken decision not to bother confronting the school with the obvious: that someone had Peter change his underwear at school again. Peter doesn’t own any black underpants and he wears a size 6-8 brief. Maybe I’ll whip them out of my briefcase at the Due Process Hearing next week and wave them in the air like a flag, or at least a distress signal. The school has a very strange interest in our son’s undergarments, there’s no getting around that fact, but I need to focus today on my blessings. I see the school psychologist (CPS accuser) when I pick the kids up and she offers me a haughty little smirk as we pass, but because she’s only a temporary annoyance, I treat the exchange accordingly. There are blessings to be counted and soon enough her absence from my thoughts will be one more I can add to the list. Today I’m grateful. I didn’t wake up in this state, though Pat and I have been talking about the need to combat the urge toward self-pity and despair. Something happened. Why is it that more times than not something awful has to happen to make us stop dead in our tracks, to take stock of our lives, of our good fortunes, of the miracle in life that permits us to love and be loved in return? A friend calls this morning to tell me that another friend, her husband and two young boys, were in a boating accident in the Keys over the weekend. Her husband hit a channel marker and the family was thrown from the boat, which then struck the mother and boys in the water. I won’t say more because the details belong to them, but although she’s hurt badly, the boys suffered serious, and in the case of the eldest child, life-threatening injuries. The horror they must be enduring. I can’t imagine. When (I can’t say “if”) their sons recover, my friends will count their blessings. No doubt they’re broaching this deal with God right now. It’s why I’m counting mine, why today I see the ordinary blessings in life with the extraordinary clarity of someone on the verge of unbearable loss. I came close this weekend, on the sunny shore of Mudge Pond, and for that I’m glad, a small little self-congratulation. It’s what my family deserves, my husband, my children, even me. Life and love are themselves great blessings, and I am blessed with both. If our run-in with CPS weren’t enough to remind me, along with the petty, vengeful woman who orchestrated it, my friends’ accident this weekend drives the lesson home.