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The boys are settled into math this morning, one on the couch and one on the loveseat. Settled may be a generous description, as we’re struggling a bit to return to the routine of structured learning. In other words, we’re struggling with math.

I’ll do the problems, but I’m not checking them.

That’s Carter’s statement this morning, as we look at the pages he is to complete. Grumble. Sigh. Pick at a toenail. Grumble. Draw dragon pictures in the white spaces on the page. Sigh.

I’ll do the problems, but I’m not checking them, he repeats, just to make sure I’ve understood the line he’s drawing in this morning’s mathematical sand.

Got it.

I think, as I brush my teeth and plan what I will fix for supper and decide whether or not to bake muffins and make the bed and make a phone call… I think as I do all these things about the lines I draw.

I’ll do this, but not that.

These are the little bargains I make – with my husband, with my children, with God, with church, with myself.

It’s how I keep a little bit of control over whatever it is I’ve decided (or been told) I need to do.

It’s not a bad thing, I suppose, in many situations. I don’t mind if Carter doesn’t check his math problems. I don’t mind him finding ways to feel in control in difficult situations.

Except that, we don’t always. We don’t have control, a lot of the time, and while it might feel good to draw a line, sometimes you can’t.

Today is September 11, 2013, and twelve years ago a line was crossed.

Today, on the anniversary of that day that changed so much and affected so many people, we’re doing math in our living room. Today, social media will be awash with memorials and tributes and flags and commentary, and there will be political discussions and people will find things to disagree about. But in our home, in our living room, we are doing math. Carter is doing his work, in peace, and his only concern is how many pages he has to complete, and I’m incredibly and selfishly thankful for that.

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