The Greatest Love of All: A Rant

April 25, 2010

It’s one of those things that you might be grateful for, while at the same time finding it burdensome. Your heart gets widened, but more pain can come in, looking for shelter…

When you become a parent, suddenly every news story could be a news story about your child. You become more compassionate for strangers, knowing that every person is someone’s son or daughter; and thus every news story is that much harder to bear.

When you have a child, you get insight into the importance of every single individual human life. It is a blessing, and a curse. (What blessing does not carry with it an embryonic curse? What curse does not curve over the bud of a blessing?)

The recent story of the UVA graduate student cyclist killed on a street I drive all the time near downtown Charlottesville by a city worker is one of those stories that just sets my nerves on edge (my nerves just get ready to hurl themselves over the precipice of my anxiety sometimes). Not only do I find myself empathetically heartbroken for the parents of this young boy, but I’m aching for the truck driver, too. Neither side of the coin offers a desired surface.

These kinds of stories are almost worse to me than the ones about children my kids’ ages who get strangled on blinds or soccer nets, drown in bathtubs or ponds, suffer sudden killer flu or get abducted. At least in these cases, I can try to exert a certain amount of control; I can watch them, can’t I, ALL THE TIME. I can never let them eat a hot dog, I can spray them down with antibacterial scrub, I can leash them to my body at all hours, I can choose curtains, I can never let them play sports.

But after age 18? I’m doomed. All my efforts to comfort myself by exerting control, managing risk moment to moment – no more. The kid steps out of the house and onto the street. She goes to a concert. She goes to bars. He gets behind the wheel of a truck. He goes for a swim. WITHOUT ME.

I feel like I’ve seen a lot of sorrowful, grieving parents in the news lately. I’m also still stunned to have learned recently that the U.S. rates at the bottom among developed nations on a UNESCO scale rating how much countries care about their young. Not to get all commie on this issue, but I partly wonder if one of the reasons kids don’t get treated better here is that they don’t earn money – and while they are a booming consumer demographic, they matter in bulk, as buyers – not as individuals, as human beings. Kind of like the rest of us. Our culture’s consumeristic values governs us, more than our politicians do, or any sort of cultural wisdom.

One example?: If we cared about the safety and well-being of our young, our policies for supporting the parents of those young would be robust, and not dependant on income level. We would ensure that all children received excellent care, had the support and love of supported parents, received healthcare and food and therapy as needed.

Why? Because we doom children – and adults- to the level of care they receive based on their socioeconomic status – it’s a caste system, folks!

  • Not just teachers, but social workers, social services, people who work with kids, don’t get the level of pay and support they need
  • Working parents do not get the support they need to take care of their kids as needed
  • Daycares are often gross; childcare hard to find, and expensive
  • Supplies for kids are expensive
  • Good food, healthcare, are for the pleasure of the rich, not the poor

I guess these things wouldn’t stop that poor guy from getting run over by the truck, or prevent childhood mishaps and adolescent accidents. But there are plenty of suicides, plenty of bullying, plenty of instances of kids making poor choices because they don’t know there’s better ones, they have no one looking out for them, not really – and the sense that we as a society value them or value life in general is vague and beleaguered.

I believe the children are our future, Whitney Houston sang. It’s a stupid lyric, because there’s no belief about it- the children are indeed the future of our society, our world – and how we treat them as children will play out in how they act as adults.

My point? There’s a lot of suffering we can’t avoid or prevent for our children, for ourselves. But there IS a lot we CAN do. And it’s not about being liberal or conservative. It’s about the fact that we live in this world together, the haves and the have-nots. You’re not really giving kids much of a chance or many choices to let them wallow in poverty and neglect when they are little. If we truly believe in the innate rights and goodness of every being, then we need to ensure that every child receives the same amount of care… as a society, as a whole.

I think it is easy to take the pinch of a painful news story and flinch and become overprotective of our own kids. I would hope we can practice empathy and seek to protect and work for the welfare of ALL children. Come on! Show them all the beauty they possess inside!


Obama to a Two Year Old

June 30, 2008

Obama in the ParkSaturday, we scarfed some free food at the little hut of Obama followers signing up volunteers.

I was a bit surprised by the overwhelming majority of older white folk…

Still, we got free stickers, cookies, and watermelon, and to my toddler, that was great.

But trying to explain what was going on was hard.

It kind of went like this:

I show her the word on the sticker. “Obama.”

Obana?
Yes, he’s a man who wants to be president. Of our country.
Our country?
Yes, the country we live in.
We live in?
America.
Am-er-ica?
Yes.
Ok.

Later, she points at the sticker again: What is it?
Obama.
Obana?
Yes. He will maybe be president. He will try.
Pres-dent?
Yes, in charge. We will all vote – choose – who gets to be in charge of our country.
Ok.

Later, again pointing to the sticker: Obana? He maybe pee in potty?

I can see the headlines now…Of course, her big thing right now is trying to pee in the potty. It’s the greatest achievement she can imagine.


80s Prom

June 5, 2008

Last year, I was newly pregnant. I was chubby in my material girl desperately-seeking-fashion-help outfit, not drinking, and I STILL had a blast – everyone jamming to the classics – in big fluffy flashy prom dresses and Rick Springfield gear – oh, it was deliciously obnoxious…

So I highly recommend it. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it – right before Father’s Day and my birthday – but darn, you should go in my stead…

(Oh yeah, and as for the fact that this is a benefit for Planned Parenthood: I just want to say that PP was there for me when I was 17 (and later) and needed a check up and my family didn’t have health insurance. Health services for women and girls, reproductive education, can be vital support for people, having nothing to do with abortion…)

Info on the Dance:

Old Michie Building (aka Old Live Arts)
609 E Market St, Charlottesville, VA 22902 US
When: Saturday, June 14, 8:00PM
Don’t go dancing with yourself; get into the groove with others who’ve got the beat to support Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia (PPAV). On June 14th, we’ll be partying like it’s 1989 with the Second Annual 80s Prom. So get pretty in pink, jump in your little red corvette and have the time of your life!  Must be 21+.


Featuring DJ Steve Richmond spinning the 80s tunes, costume contest, prom court and much, much more….

Tickets $10*/ $20 with PPAV membership
*only available at the door

Pretty sweet sponsorship levels
$35
Polaroid picture under balloon arch
$50 Polaroid picture under balloon arch plus song request

Super cool sponsorship levels
$100
VIP Lounge entry and champagne for two
$250 Two 80s Prom tickets, VIP Lounge entry for up to four guests and bottle of champagne

For advance tickets & sponsorship, who you gonna call?  www.ppav.org\80sprom.html


Daily Progress website

March 30, 2008

I love how the other morning I was trying to read about the shootings on the freeway and a giant ad kept blocking the ENTIRE STORY with no visible cue as to how to remove it.

GREAT.

I like the cleaner look of the new design, but I still feel like I can’t find up to the minute information very easily at all.

Meanwhile, what did working parents do with schools so abruptly closed???


The Balfour Case

January 25, 2008

It’s the story of a woman who left her child in her car and the child died.

The hearing, which has been taking place today, was being reported on the TV in the hairdresser’s today when I went for my haircut.

“Stupid woman,” said this young girl with a green bug tattooed above her bum crack. “She should get electrified.”

“You just don’t do that,” agreed one of the hairdressers, broom in hand. “Uh-uh. You don’t.”

“Well,” said the woman who cuts my hair, as she put plastic around the sagging head of an elderly woman,  “I won’t say anything. I can’t say anything.”

“You wouldn’t do that to your kids!” said the girl, angrily.

“No, I wouldn’t want to, but I don’t know, I don’t know what happened, I can’t say it wouldn’t.”

Later, when it was just me and the older lady and my hairdresser in the room, we all agreed that it’s impossible to pass judgment on poor Balfour.

“I wouldn’t want to say it, and then boom, have something happen,” my hairdresser said.

“People go through terrible things,” concurred the lady.

“I can imagine her misery is enough to punish her,” I said.

“We can’t imagine that misery,” said the old lady, firmly.

She is right.

So, I was heartened and interested by this debate. Ever since I heard this awful story, I’ve been not only extra careful about whether or not I’ve remembered (or my husband has) to get our daughter out of the car (!), but I’ve been aware in general of how transparent the line is between safe and unsafe behavior, between between criminal and benevolent neglect when it comes to caring for and raising a child.

  • How many of us have stepped away from the bathtub, when we shouldn’t have?
  • How many of us have found foreign objects in our child’s mouth that could have caused a choking death?
  • How many of us have forgotten to close the door to the stairwell?
  • How many of us are so stressed and tired that our ability to think clearly and to parent well has been compromised?

It would be so easy to say about this poor woman that I would NEVER be so awful and dumb and forgetful so as to do what she did. It would make me feel easier, safer, and better about myself to put her in the category of Awful, Other Woman Who I am Not.

But as they used to say in the old days, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

I am no better than Balfour.

This is a tough thing to say, because it seems to imply that I have the capability to do something awful like she did.

Guess what? I do.

Guess what? We ALL do.

Given the circumstances, we are all capable of a million evil, awful, forgetful, neglectful things.

To rest in a mirage of self-satisfaction that any of us is morally superior on some essential level to someone else is the essence of ignorance.

To acknowledge that we are human and thus flawed and to commit to trying to be as compassionate and as aware as possible, to make the best choices we can, knowing that sometimes those choices will blow up in our faces, that we can’t control the consequences of even the best intentions, to offer compassion to those who fail mightily – it is hard to do this, but it is more honest as to the nature of who we are as individuals in this world…

It’s really tough to write about this. It is a story of absolute horror. To be the cause of your own child’s accidental death… no, I can’t imagine that misery.  But somehow, I try to. And then I pray for grace. For all of us. For the little and the big things we leave undone, as well as things we do.

“She should be glad I’m not the judge,” said the girl to the television, her tattoo wiggling.

But, this girl sits (wiggles) in judgment.

I am trying the opposite. I am not the judge.


Green Resources: New, Local, and others…

January 11, 2008

With the launch of the new Better World Betty site – which features a searchable database, so you can find out where to purchase/recycle different kinds of items – and the election of a mayor for whom the environment seems to be a major priority (his blog is even green) Cville is turning greener by the day…

I wanted to also remind you of a couple other resources:

Green Charlottesville – a Yahoo group set up for virtual community discussions and sharing about green issues

Charlottesville Green Drinks – a monthly social hour for locals working for environmental quality – an evening of food, $1.50 beer specials, and amazing conversation on the second Thursday of every month – locations vary. (contact Lyle Solla-Yates, 434-806-9044)

Charlottesville Vegetarian Families Network – potlucks and online discussion

Piedmont Garden Swap – how much greener can you get than trading plants and information on gardening, growing, composting, etc.?

Freecycle – Reduce and reuse in a fun, free way

My favorite green and green parenting resources/blogs, not local but still useful:

Ideal Bite – get the daily e-mail tip or subscribe to the blog for fun, hip ways to go green

Green Daily – my new favorite, because its useful, plentiful, and down to earth

Eco Child’s Play – ideas for toys and more for keeping your kids green

Z Recommends – kid items, but this blog does extensive research into the BPAs and other harmful elements of bottles, pacifiers, etc. – a great resource


Tooting My Horn

December 28, 2007

The next mayor Charlottesville read one of my blog entries and called it the “Best Blog Post of 2007 Hands Down” – did you see??

Husband told me this on Christmas Day, and it felt like such a sweet present from the universe.

I was impressed that a dude took my castration suggestion so well. Sounds like the perfect kind of mayor to me! I’m a loyalist, now…