Last night I slept in our daughter’s bed with her for the first time. I did that because I had to hear her. Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up swinging and kicking, because my brain was saying, “No. You’re not taking her.” It woke her up, but she went back to sleep, thankfully.
I was doing some serious punching. My feet were going like crazy. I don’t need a book. I know.
Last Saturday our daughter was diagnosed with influenza A. The flu. Leaving aside the high fever that day, and the worry over whether or not it would get higher, I want to talk about something else.
There’s this thing called Croup. People think of it in regards to infants. Small kids. Here’s the deal- anyone can get it. Even adults. I have it occasionally now. I have it now. My vocal chords aren’t child vocal chords, though, and I’m an adult, so I use my asthma inhaler when I get it and everything works out okay.
Croup is a viral infection of the vocal chords. That’s pretty much it. The thing is- it causes symptoms like those of a severe asthma attack. Without intervention a child could die.
Could. Could die.
Not will. Could.
This is the difference between thinking and knowing the worst.
Last night our daughter couldn’t breathe, and she couldn’t stop coughing. She was coughing and hitching on her coughing. Coughs got stuck. Her yawns got stuck. This wasn’t intermittent. This was non-stop. She had no break. They were sharp coughs, totally dry, and her chest would sink as she tried to take a breath to cough again. She’d not get that breath. Her hands would flail. If you have asthma you know that feeling of suffocation where you fight.
So I turned on the shower in the guest bathroom and took her in. She coughed the entire time she was in there, and that told me everything. So I bundled her up and took her outdoors in the cold.
And as she clung to me and rested her head on my shoulder she stopped coughing. And then she started breathing. So we went back in because she was cold.
We ended up going out three times total. On each return I had her put her head on my chest in her bed and breathe with me. I reminded her of the Wii Fit Yoga. “In through your nose, out through your mouth.” I told her to listen to my voice. Relax. Listen to my voice. Relax. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Calm. Peace.
She finally fell asleep, and it was less than an hour later that I woke up fighting.
I did not THINK that croup would kill my daughter, but I knew it COULD.
It can. Croup can kill. Intubation can happen if you get to the hospital in time, or get a paramedic in time. Until she started sleeping on me I was awake and ready to call 911. Here’s the thing, moms-
Being ready is not being a pessimist.
It’s not being dramatic.
It’s not stupid.
It’s not, “Thinking the worst.”
It’s knowing what can happen if you don’t keep your shit together.
You can come apart later. And trust me, you are entitled to come apart later. Go for it. Go sit in a room and sob, or rock back and forth, or even, hell, run through the yard screaming.
When you KNOW the worst that can happen you’ll need some relief. If you THINK the worst WILL happen, you can’t function at all.
Today she has gotten steroids and her coughing has reduced considerably. I’ll be sleeping on the sofa next to her room tonight, but I won’t wake up fighting.
We’re good. Not well. Good.
Today the US government shut down (partially) because everyone was acting like someone took the better kickball.
Here’s what I don’t get about our nation right now:
I helped elect John Edwards into the US Senate in NC. And then he almost didn’t vote. On anything. And I thought, “What the hell?” But he was busy running for President with his teeth. And I was angry. And I told people how much I was angry for having helped get him as far as he went.
And then he was a rat-bastard and cuckolded his cancer-stricken wife, and none of that has to do with politics, but it makes me like him even less.
But I voted for him. And when he was an ass I said, “HEY! This was NOT what I voted for you to do!” and he never received a single one of my votes again.
Right now- I’m not sure what’s up with people. Are they really so clueless about our current majority, or are they so afraid to have been wrong that they’re just bowing and scraping? I wonder that a lot.
I am a Liberal? A Progressive? I don’t know. I’m now a registered Democrat because the GOP has disgusted me so much lately.
I know a lot of us would rather die than admit we’re wrong. I know a lot of conservatives would do the same.
How about everyone, every single voter, starts really reading (REALLY reading) about the candidates before every, and I mean EVERY, election? Know your candidates. Learn their names. What is their platform? Checking off a box because it’s in the “correct” party?
It doesn’t cut it. It never did.
And because I sadly suspect most of the voters in this country really will never start reading up before voting until I get my very own unicorn-
I’m going to take my John Edwards mistake to my grave. With every vote. With every election. I will read. I’ll read some more. And I’ll annoy people over things like poor Winkie Wilkins, for whom I voted after reading, but the poor man has a most unfortunate name.
I voted for him anyway.
You know, if you are a sports fan, that they say Philadelphia fans are the worst in the world.
Fickle. Fair weather.
It’s true. It is. Oh not all of them, but yeah. It’s true.
Really quickly I want to link you to this article about the attendance drop-off for the Phillies this past year (because they weren’t winning).
And now I want to tell you a story.
It was 2004. It was the last time I drove to NJ for any length of time, and my mom and I went to a Phillies game. She’d gotten the tickets from someone at work, and the seats were right behind home plate. I wish- I so wish- I could remember the player who started this. Every time he got up to bat he whiffed. Every single time. The fans were booing him, loudly, every time he got up to bat. I heard many yells of, “YOU SUCK!” At one point he was up, and I threw myself backward into my seat and said, “Aw MAN!” as boos were ringing out.
And then this man two rows to my right stood up.
He said, “AW come on, folks! That ain’t the way! Come on!” and then he started clapping. And he started chanting. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. GO.
And then everyone in our section was on our feet. We were clapping. We were chanting. He whiffed. There was a ball. And then that sonofagun hit a home run.
The dude who had gotten us up threw up his arms, but not once did he turn and yell, “I told you so.”
We knew anyway. So for the rest of the game our section was very polite, and we were also very encouraging.
I know ticket sales are everything to the owners. I really do. I know that managers do what they can with the players they’ve got. I know that shit happens and folks end up on the DL.
But I also know, because I saw it, that if fans support their team even when they’re doing crappy it can help at least a little. Sometimes a lot.
I want to thank Charlie Manuel for his years with my team. Our team. We probably could have given you more years if we’d been there when it got tough.
-there was a little girl named Julie.
And she was a doll. Yes, she was a doll. Oh how we all loved Julie.”
I never really liked dolls.
Once upon a time a girl named Julie had a weird sense of humor. She laughed at inappropriate things. She got in trouble for that with her dad. She never really thought about getting married and having kids. They were fleeting thoughts. “Someday if I-“
Oh sure she chased the boy across the street and told him she was going to marry him, but she was four and he was five. There weren’t too many thoughts of marriage and kids otherwise. She dated. Whatever dating meant. There was a lot of, “It’s not you, it’s me,” coming from her lips. She really did think it was her. It probably was.
After a whole lot of crazy she finally ended up married for real. She had kids. None of these things had really been in her list of goals, but circumstances and desires change. The first child she had was a daughter. She was excited. A daughter. She was a girl. She knew from girls.
No, I didn’t.
See, the thing about expectations is that they are almost always entirely wrong. As much as I figured I’d have a mini-me that would share my thrill over certain things- that did not entirely come to pass. I have trouble, even though my husband doesn’t, playing with dolls with what I would consider superficial adventures. I do love me some purple, but pink is something I can’t get into. I really never could. Our daughter loves pink. Loves it. She loves pink, and sparkles, and she loves pretty stories instead of ugly stories. She wants things to always be happy and sweet. With hearts.
Lots of hearts.
You know, it’s not her. It’s me. There is not one thing wrong with my daughter for loving pink, hearts, and Hello Kitty. There’s nothing wrong with wanting entertainment that’s happy instead of disturbing. There’s not one thing wrong with being enraptured with science, as she is, but also being gaga over lace and frills. And butterflies. And fairies. Beauty. Serenity.
See, a little deal called LEGO Friends hit the market just as my daughter got old enough to notice. The boxes are purple and pink. A lot of the sets show homey type things. She wanted them desperately. She got some. Eventually she got many. And she’s damned good at LEGO. I gave her my old (1995) sets to use, and she uses everything she needs to build whatever she wants. She’s not constrained by anything but how far her imagination will take her. My daughter wants to go to Mars someday, you see, and she wants to build.
The boys in her class told her that LEGO is only for boys. My daughter told them that she plays with LEGO Friends and those are for girls, and she’s good at it.
Well yes, she’s damned good at it. And I wasn’t aware LEGO was exclusive. So that leads to-
Let’s talk now about this Fake Geek Girl Thing. Because until sometime over the past year or so I didn’t even know it was a thing.
My daughter, pink and pretty as she likes, is quite obviously a, “geek.” She loves science and math. Outer space. Memorizes facts. She’s a stickler for rules. Dare I say she might even go so far as nerd?
Oh I dare.
And here’s the thing- these labels? Oh how I hate labels. But I hadn’t been aware I was a geek until someone called me one, and I was really freaking intelligent as a kid. So intelligent that the boy I chased around at age four called me Einstein. Back then that was not a compliment. Even then I knew you could somewhat geek out on things, but God forbid you were a nerd. So, hi, I’m an underachiever. It hurt less than being beaten.
I never got why geeking out on sports stats was acceptable.
I watch my daughter absorb information and spew it out, and I watch her groove on the things she loves, and you know what? Even if the things she loves were macrame plant holders thinking that spider plants looked best enclosed therein, and she rocked the house at making them, or how to disassemble a 396 big block engine and put it back together and loved everything about the smell of GoJo-
Or even if she just liked the way that engine sounds-
She’d be cool. I told her that every single person on the planet is cool because everyone loves something that they know about. Even if they don’t know everything about it, every last minutiae, they know and love something. And that’s cool.
I have geeked out in my life over Star Wars and Star Trek, the Harry Potter books, Batman, DC comics in general, archaeology, anthropology, gardening, outer space, sharks, snakes, grammar, cameras, swiss chard, and many other things. I really hope over my life I find even more things to geek over. It never once occurred to me that the only role for me in my love of anything was to stand on the sidelines and try to look hot while letting the guys have all of the fun.
I am not a doll.
Even still, when my mother sang that song to me I felt what she meant. I was her doll-baby. Her sweetie. Her honey. I was okay with those because they came from a good place. I still am. I finally accepted the term geek when it was a pejorative because it no longer meant eater-of-chicken-heads, and it summed up how I felt about the things I loved. I watch my daughter start to geek out over things, and I want to tell you something-
If she’s not accepted in any community- it’s not her. It’s you.
What I am going to do right now is put on my cotton nightgown with the buttons and read me some Jane Austen.
While drinking a beer.
Because I geek out over those, too.
- Mother Teresa
Today the Supreme Court of the United States determined that The Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
I love our Constitution. I do. It has room for advancement, and at the same time it protects us (or should) from the idiocy that is rampant in the great country of ours. And you know- there’s idiocy everywhere. We invite it sometimes. We beg for it quite often. Then when it turns around and bites us we get all upset. See The Patriot Act for proof.
As a parent, though, right now I want to talk about love, and I want to talk about how much farther we have to go.
See- right before school ended our daughter decided to draw some pictures for her classmates. That decision led to tears.
Our daughter has, thankfully, been exposed to many different types of people despite the fact that we’re rural and don’t have too many places to go for activities within a short drive. My old roommate and her wife have come to visit twice, for instance, and aside from my explaining that they were married but no, they didn’t have kids, it wasn’t a big deal to her. She’s still confused by families not having kids even though she keeps insisting she doesn’t want any when she’s not talking about how she’s going to raise her daughter.
You see, children operate in a sense of whatever I feel when I feel it. And that can be cool. It’s cool when it doesn’t involve tantrums or being a jerk to your sibling, anyway. The thing about kids is that when someone talks about Be Here Now? Oh they’re here. They’re here right now, and whatever comes out of their mouths or hearts is what they are going to express.
So our daughter drew a picture of herself proposing marriage to the Queen Bully of her classroom. She did this because she doesn’t understand the different facets of love. She only knows that because this bully had her under her thumb for most of the year she was required by bully law to love her. And love means marriage. Regardless of the fact that we’ve told her that not everyone decides to get married.
And I saw that picture, and I knew, I KNEW, in 2013! what would happen next. I have not only dealt with this snot of a child personally, but I have witnessed the behavior of both of her parents. I know them. I know them well as a person who had been bullied for years in school. I had to tell our daughter that she could not take the picture to that girl. Then I had to tell her why.
I had to tell her that there are people who don’t think that people who love each other should be able to get married. I told her that from what I’d seen of her recipient I could guarantee that she and her family were in that group. Then I had to tell her that if she did give that girl the drawing she’d use it against her for the rest of her time in school. Kids would mock her. They’d be mean to her. They might beat her up. Then I had to explain the difference between friend love and romantic love. She cried. A lot. That night I cried, too.
Our daughter is six, and because of hate and fear I had to attempt to explain adult concepts to her so she wouldn’t end up emotionally destroyed.
She’s not in love with the girl. She’s not in love with anyone. This is all because of a drawing and an open heart. She drew pictures for boys as well.
The striking down of The Defense of Marriage Act is a great step (as is the Proposition 8 decision), but until people can let go of fear of, well, nothing that will harm them, really, we won’t keep moving forward. We will still have children bullied for how they act and who they love. We will have adults who encourage it, and we’ll have local and state governments who turn a blind eye and let hatred over nothing harmful continue.
I am so happy today for my friends and countryfolk, believe me, but we still have so much farther to go until the feelings of the heart no longer inspire hate.
Keep fighting. With our actions. With our good words. With our example. With our friendship.
It’s hard as hell, but people can change. And with our thoughts we change the world. We just have to keep acting on them.
Love. It’s a beautiful, painful thing.
And it’s worth it.
I want to tell you something.
I am sick of, “Meh.”
Not the word, although that is annoying in itself. I am sick of the current Culture of Meh.
So you don’t care. If you don’t care- why do you feel the need to let everyone know you don’t care? If you really didn’t care why did you read the story or the comments on the story? What COMPELS you to ingest information that you really don’t care about? Because I just don’t get it.
Me? There are tons of things I don’t care about. I keep it to myself unless someone asks me.
Did you get that last bit? If someone specifically asks me my opinion I say, “That doesn’t really interest me.”
We’re in an age now where information flies around the Internet, and people seem to read a headline and think, “I don’t care.” And they click the link, scroll down to comments, and enter the comment, “I don’t care.”
Actually, no. What I’ve read recently are versions of these-
“How does this affect me at all?”
“Whoop dee doo.”
“Who gives a shit?”
I am talking about the fact that King Richard III of England was found buried beneath a parking lot.
One apparently read the article and mentioned that they didn’t care about someone who’d been king for only 2 years and then dead for over 500.
You know- I kind of get it. I care. I care because once I got out of school I devoured history because it was finally interesting. Once you leave school and get your hands on the good books history becomes a fascinating study. Or it does to certain people. And you know- that is, again, where my argument against “meh” comes in.
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET.
Many, many people who are not you find many things interesting. Simplistic, I know, but IT’S TRUE! Hell, I know people who love everything about certain books or genres of books, and I couldn’t care less. The cool thing is that I don’t have to. The great thing is that because I have no interest I don’t have to read them. Ever. I especially don’t feel the need to hop onto websites and spew, “Who gives a shit?” I go about my merry business.
We have become quite stupid, in general. Not in our ignorance but in our bold enjoyment of ignorance. I don’t get it. This goes beyond, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” to “If you don’t have ANYTHING to say…”
I think the Internet has led to just talking too much.
I’m going to take a moment, though. I’m not a historian. I’m not learned beyond what I’ve read. So I’m going to give my opinion to the person who doesn’t care because said king was only so for 2 years and blah-
If Richard had not died at Bosworth Henry VII might never have become King. Had he never become King there would have been no Henry VIII (In that particular person). Had there been no Henry VIII there would have likely been no gonad-led push to Protestantism in England in that particular time. Had that not happened then by the early 1600s the English might not have been fleeing their home to the New World to avoid religious persecution. It might have happened eventually, but the timeline would have been different. Had that not happened-
Everyone in the USA would not be in something called the USA and might currently all be speaking Spanish.
And you, Mister or Ms. “Who gives a shit” might not even be here.
Now go read a damn book or look into what you don’t care about before you blurt a real opinion into the world.
Whether you care or not- history matters. Our understanding of it is what lets us understand ourselves.
On Friday I picked up my daughter at school, and when I saw her smile and wave at me from line I started crying. My baby is safe.
This weekend both of my kids have been sick. Fevers. Terrible coughs. Noses running, and still I thought, “I shouldn’t freak out. My kids are alive.”
I took them to the doctor today, and both of them have tonsillitis and ear infections. We were stuck in an exam room for over an hour waiting for the doctor, and both of them were coming apart. I’m claustrophobic at times. I was freaking out on the inside. Over and over in my head I said, “Quit it you ass. This is nothing. Keep some damn perspective.”
I’m pretty sure most of us with kids are feeling a mixture of horror and relief right now that it wasn’t us.
It’s okay to feel that way. It really is. It feels terrible to feel that way, but I have to say-
There are hundreds of parents of students at Sandy Hook Elementary right now who are alternately feeling terrible for their neighbors and elated that their kids were spared. And they will feel terrible about it. They will catch themselves feeling grateful and then remember that for a few seconds it could have been them.
The emergency response workers will be feeling guilty because they didn’t get there in time to stop it. They couldn’t, but that won’t stop the guilt.
The adults working in the school will look around and feel relief and guilt.
Every parent of a survivor will feel guilt when they lose it and yell at their kids for doing something naughty for a long, long time.
Everyone in our nation with a modicum of empathy feels a measure of guilt right now. Guilt about watching the news or NOT watching the news. Guilt because in some form or fashion we just, as humans, suck it in to flagellate ourselves for having even a moment’s happiness and cheer (the noun) when others are suffering badly.
I joke about Catholic Guilt. I was raised Catholic. I know guilt. I know the feeling that everything I do isn’t good enough for some unseen ideal.
We are human. We are okay. Our feelings are our own, and what we need to do as a species is acknowledge that we are human. It’s okay.
IT IS OKAY.
And what we really need to do, no matter how badly we feel, no matter how cynical, how angry-
IT IS OKAY.
We are human beings.
We love, and we feel.
But right now it feels so bad. For everyone.