Yesterday, on the month anniversary of the massacre by a 19-year old using a semi-automatic style weapon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead and 14 injured, students all over the United States walked out of class to protest gun violence and to demand action by their lawmakers. These clear, young eyes see the NRA’s emasculation of the GOP, the party which controls all three branches of our federal government and 33 state houses across the USA. They see that the best the GOP president can do is host a roundtable discussion about violent video games after the NRA made him walk back his gun control comments. I’ve heard and read “grown-ups” criticizing students for meddling in issues they do not understand and insinuating that the protesters only wanted to get out of classes, but possibly those “grown-ups” know a very different kind of student than I know. I applaud the students who organized demonstrations of all sorts yesterday and who intend to demand more from the rest of us to end gun violence with gun control. Continue reading
To set the scene. I am sick and grumpy. I could write a long description. I have. And I’ll keep it to myself. None of it noteworthy except it is the setting into which Julia’s terrible, awful, horrible day blossomed.
Tuesday morning, I wrote to Julia’s case manager at school:
“Julia has been complaining about lunch all weekend. Today, she should go to Trills. I’m not sure if she has been going the last few weeks. Other than today and Thursday (Peer Partners?), she wants to be able to sit with other kids. I’m not sure what can be worked out but I promised to ask you about it. Any ideas?” Continue reading
Saturday: My second basketball game in as many days. No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side (excuse me, my basketball-loving Hoosier friends). Julia is cheering. Not perfectly by any means although pompoms hide many a sin, cheerleaders stand to one side of the basket and cheer from the side, and most folks are here for the basketball players. She is very happy. Tonight she doesn’t even have ear plugs in. The gym’s echo is quite pronounced and the buzzer is incredibly loud and annoying. No complaints from the girl.
I realize that it is me that wants and expects perfection before performance. Julia and her cheer coach do not. Julia is out in front of the crowd on her own terms. Sometimes she perseverates on how she holds her pompoms and she does not stand as still as the other girls. And people do notice. As we left on Saturday, various people told Julia that she did a great job. Some of the compliments were accompanied by a knowing look to me. She is being congratulated for her chutzpah, her sheer and absolute nerve to insist on being herself even in a line up of girls all the rest doing the exact same thing. If there is pity, I refuse to see it. This is a hard lesson for me—a lesson in letting her go and letting her be herself. I would prefer that she show her independence by cutting up her food and sleeping in her own bed every night. I would prefer to let go of reminding her to go to the bathroom and listen and respond to people talking to her. Instead, she insists on my letting her go in front of crowds with pompoms. Continue reading
The wind has been howling for 27 hours sweeping away the last unseasonable warmth of the year. The sun is brighter today than midsummer and shinning in unusual windows at unexpected angles. The barometric pressure is . . . all over the place(?). Snow by the end of the week.
I usually blame early winter decorations and Christmas music on Julia’s desires. This year I take some credit. Daily news is an assault on the democratic principle I believe in. Not just democracy–greed and cruelty are on the rise, spearheaded by a Republican party that has been highjacked by the the worst of humanity. The lyrics from Cool, Cool Considerate Men from the musical 1776, repeat in my head over and over through the ever increasing disgusting trump news cycles:
Well, perhaps [there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy]. But don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
And that is why they will follow us!
To the right, ever to the right
Never to the left, forever to the right.
There is snow on the roof this morning. Just the smallest of sprinklings which will disappear in the morning rain. It is almost 8 a.m. and Julia is still asleep. She loves the first snow and I puzzle whether to wake her. But she so infrequently sleeps this long and we were out late last night. I let her sleep.
Such a week this has been!
Julia has made it to school on time for the last 7 days. On time! On one hand, such an mundane victory, but I feel like a Plantagenet claiming victory during the Hundred Years’ War. There is back story of course. While researching the reason that Julia was not getting picked up on time even according to Badger Bus’ schedule at 7:56, it was discovered that the student picked up before Julia hadn’t been to school since early September and that the driver was waiting for someone who is no longer going to school. So, without that stop and without waiting for the phantom student, Julia is now picked up at 7:48. My perfect world had her picked up at 7:45; I can concede those 3 minutes. She is now dropped off at a different door and she does not have to wait for an SEA to escort her into the building. She can run into the building, get to her locker and get to biology on time. And she can do it without help although special ed is not willing to let her speed through the halls alone yet. I expect she will be doing it alone soon. Continue reading
I haven’t published for a bit more than a month, I’ve started a few posts and abandoned them. Each had high emotions and descriptions of broken systems. The landscape and emotions shift too quickly for me to either continue or revise. It seems like a new story every few days. The promising meeting or email results in a step back instead of two steps forward as planned.
Some highlights of the past month from where I sit today, starting with the positive because I have not been keeping the positive in my head recently: Continue reading
Julia graduated from eighth grade on Wednesday and had a pretty wonderful day. She picked out her dress and the blue rose for her hair. She is a kid who loves dressing up and here was an occasion. She was even willing to pose for numerous mother pictures. The bus ladies were effusive with the compliments. These two women who drive and help out on the special ed bus greet her every morning and appear to love her chatter. Julia entertains them every morning. Continue reading
4:00 p.m.: I’ve spent the day in the garden beds, digging up the last of the bulbs in the front terrace beds, transplanting ajuga from those same beds to the side in front of the fence. This is a place where the worst weeds grow. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I planted ajuga on the fence line last fall. About a third of it took, so I’m trying again. Cutting back spent bulb plantings and weeding just a tiny bit. I have some mighty incredible weeds after our week of rain.
Julia is working on cover art for a class project while she listens to music. Kid bob mostly with a bit of classic rock mixed in. “I just love ‘Thriller,’” she tells me. How can I not smile indulgently?
For the cover art, Julia sketched the old fashion way and then transferred her drawings to an iPad app for coloring. When finished, the enhanced drawings will all go into a collage app to be arranged on a background and titles. For a child who stumbles over simple directions, she has figured most of this out by herself. When she’s run into problems and asks me, which surprisingly she is doing with more regularity, she is patient as I figure the problem out and usually fully understands my solution about half way through my explanation. Continue reading
So much of life flies under the radar and goes unnoticed. By me. Sometimes I notice a new hair cut, I comment on a Facebook announcement of a new job or I ask about an increased spring in a step, but so many times I miss much of the lives around me. I don’t know whether to attribute it to self-involvement, a teenager who needs attention or a general character flaw. Continue reading
I don’t believe that everything happens for reason. Or that there is some sort of divinity arranging events. However, I do believe that the examined life demands that I take advantage of my experiences as teaching and learning moments.
And that’s where I am today.
Last week I canceled almost everything we do. No cello lesson, therapy with Marilyn, speech therapy, reading group, Chinese brushstroke painting, ice skating for Julia or songha for me. We stayed home. I went to a show on Friday night with a friend driving and we went to church on Saturday Night which had the bonus of a potluck meal afterwards. I did homework with Julia every day and we found time to write to thank you notes that she owed but without other obligations she also had free time to play video games, listen to music, and draw Sonic. This morning I had a chilling awareness that what we did last week, no therapy and just a little bit of learning, could be what Julia’s life post high school could be like. It could become a lonely life of unrewarding work and coming home to an evening of mindless TV. I know it’s four years away and she will change between now and then but my mother fears bubble up. What if she doesn’t change or grow during these years? What if at 21 or 25, Julia is not curious and needs me to fill her days for her in some productive way? What if only me wanting this fuller life for her? Immediately, I went down the rabbit hole of worry and fears. What if… What if… What if. Continue reading