birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

This Is Fun

One interesting aspect about having children is that you may feel that you must pretend to be brave when you are feeling anything but.

When my then 2 year old son fell backwards and banged his head on the living room window sill, I swept him up, telling him, it wasn’t bad at all. We’ll put a little ice pack on it – the bunny shaped one in the freezer - mop it up a bit and move on.

He was buying it too, until he caught a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror with streams of blood running down the back of his tyrannosaurus t-shirt. That was when he began to yowl. I just shook my head and said, Boy, when you bump your scalp, it makes a mess, right? An alarm bell was wildly clanging in my head but had to be damped to keep his within reason.

January 17, 1994. 4:30 am. Big earthquake. Our second story apartment swayed and bookcases fell, toppling their contents onto the carpet. The tv fell off it’s shelf and when the lights came back on, we saw the kitchen floor was a sea of broken glass, ground coffee, rice and a large pool of honey from a newly opened 2 pound can. The children’s tiny room was a mess of fallen toys and books. They had to climb out over a table.

They were understandably upset and shaken, literally and figuratively. After my initial terror over trying to find them in the darkened apartment – one didn’t answer when I frantically called out his name. His brother finally explained, He’s sleeping, Mom. Seriously? An 8ft high bookcase fell onto his bed. -I made light of it all. We could camp out in the dark! So what if we had no phone? Hey, bonus…no school today!! As it turned out, the phone was working. It had only been knocked off the hook. We had days of cleanup ahead, but, really, we were fine. My eight year old talked non-stop for 24 hours. He sat at the desk in the living room pretending to host a radio talk show about the earthquake, speaking into a hand held mic/flashlight. At least it kept him busy.

We put their bedroom back together first. The 4 year old would run out of the bedroom every few hours, terrified. There’s an earthquake in there! I don’t want to go in there!. I would have to explain again about aftershocks. Wow! That one was REALLY wiggly, right?!? But the big one is already done, so don’t worry. Just baby wiggles now. How about a cookie?

After three days of concentrated make believe that everything was hunky-dory and we were having a fun adventure - no problem! taking it in stride! - I finally broke. I locked myself in our bedroom and sobbed for half an hour. The weight of all that pretending was just exhausting.

Sheer Necessity

Barbie Happy Ever After