I’ve been quiet again, my apologies or you’re welcome. The effort of keeping it together and seeming calm to my children is exhausting. The moment I sit down to write the words that come to me they don’t seem helpful to others and I wouldn’t want to make anyone’s day more difficult because of my opinion. I’ve talked myself into being more isolated to save the feelings of others yet maybe admitting my struggles will help someone. That’s what motivated me to write in the past even when things seemed bleak. I was sitting at the computer thinking about all of this as I remembered a stir crazy day of books and documentaries I was supposed to be overseeing in the midst of being quarantined even further by the forest fire smoke.
“Ok, here’s the plan! OK?! Sister gets one episode, I get two, and – “
His brow furrowed at my chuckling response, “Now, wait a minute, what about me?”
His mouth scrunched into a knot as he forcefully exhaled, “It’s sister’s turn, then I get TWO turns, then YOUUUU but NO dock-you-rectomies, ok?”
“”Dock-you-rectomy”?” it sounded like the world’s scariest proctologist exam.
“OH! Do you mean “documentary”?”
“Yes…that’s what I SAAAAID…of COURSE I did.”
He stomped away and it was my turn to sigh and mutter to myself his favorite saying as of late, “Of course you did…”
“The plan” for the day rarely changes. It’s a written routine separated out by the hour on a dry erase slotted banner for the day. A visual schedule broken out by essentially chore-meal-activity-repeat per hour. Any special activities are negotiated to minimize possible anxiety induced meltdowns. Imagine the UN in pajamas. My son stands nearby, waiting, with the eraser so he can edit my bullet point list of brilliance. It’s a tough crowd.
I don’t blame them. They seek the structure but resent the restriction. Are they different than the rest of us really? They want “the plan” that none of us have received. They want to know when this pandemic will end and when, or if, life will look as it once did. None of those questions I can answer any better than the news. We’re looking for directions that non one can give.
As a parent, I lose sleep at night wondering what will happen to them. As a human, I’m terrified yet hopeful that the world will change. I just hope it chooses to do so for the better.
I am agonizing over what any of our plans are for these months ahead with no reliable data to base any course of action on whether it’s school, our health, or livelihoods. The world has gone mad and I’m being asked to create a Mary Poppins-eque utopia from Pinterest boards and an Amazon account.
Every day is another revelation when I turn on the news to learn yet again how lost we all are. Much like my son, there are people asking for “two turns” without being willing to question why they get to decide “the plan” in the first place.
Uncomfortable conversations about privilege and inequality became part of our daily discourse. (The fact we have a daily discourse is amazing in itself! It was only two years ago that Owen began to speak.) They’ve had to lose a bit of their innocence in the process of gaining some insight into the world around them. Toxic forest fire smoke and seeing the streets abandoned except for the lone dog walker wearing an N95 mask can do that to a kid.
Why doesn’t everyone have the same rights?
Should we not trust police officers?
Why do people protest?
Are people protesting the forest fires?
Why do some people not believe in global warming?
Are there really people who think the earth is flat?!
There are days when all of the questions make my head reel. That sensation of feeling my pulse in my ears and a tightness across my brow as if my cranium will explode. It’s in those moments after looking through books and asking Google that I eventually ask them for a break and let them watch National Geography’s “Deep Look” on YouTube or give in to PBS Kids. If watching documentary spots about kittens and honey bees doesn’t fix their ills then at least it gives me a reprieve from losing my mind. My kids require a plan and I’ve reached a point where I can only give them a plan for the day.
Owen with a roll of masking tape and pool noodle aloft shouted to us all as if we were on a battleground his ideas. I was reading through emails when Owen approached me, hugged my arm, and sweetly said, “Ok, I’m gonna tell you the “erections” and you’re gonna follow them.”
Everyone stopped, exchanged glances, and our daughter covered her face to shake her head. Owen’s face scrunched up in anger as he sensed that he had misspoken. He fumed out of his flared nostrils as he crossed his arms in a huff.
“You gotta be kidding me – ok, listen to my “erections”!”
“Ok, Owen, we’re listening,” I shot a look to the others to stop laughing, “What were you wanting to do?”
“Well, I have a plan you SEE?!”
His pronounced brow knitted together into an angry bird as he eyed me intensely. Suspicious that I was complicit with the laughter of the others. His arms crossed tighter as he waited, tensed, for me to laugh. I smiled and said, “I see.”
I’m reluctant to correct the mispronunciations. It’s a vestige of babyhood that I’m torn to part with so quickly as his body shows so little signs of it any longer and I know that he’s needing as much encouragement as possible. He’s so very hard on himself when it comes to reading and widening his vocabulary. Plus, I’d rather hear about “erections” than follow “directions” most days.
I spend upwards of twenty hours a week advocating, researching, and coordinating with services and specialists to support my kids. This was not my plan ten years ago. This is what my kids need and fighting this hard for them to have access to what others are handed so easily is exhausting. No more so than what so many of us experience but I would imagine nothing short of the daily inequities put upon the black community. We write signs. We read about the Civil Rights movement and we have discussions about how there’s still work to be done. We talk about those examples of daily injustices and how being aware of them can help us be better allies to our community and the world. The part I don’t share is that this clearly isn’t enough since all of those good intentions didn’t prevent the situation we’re in as a country or as a world.
How we turn on the tap and expect clean water but millions in our country go without.
How we step out the door and don’t expect to be assaulted by the police who are supposed to protect us but every day that’s a reality for minorities and even more so for LGBTQ individuals.
How we access the internet expecting freedom of speech and the press but clearly that is not the reality any longer.
“The plan” being forced on all of us in the U.S. is to sit and wait. Those that refuse the plan have taken to protest and, here in Portland, it’s clear what will happen to you if you speak out.
Our mayor was gassed.
Federal abduction of our citizens.
Peaceful protesters assaulted.
Forest fires being politicized.
White supremacists gathering to support the racist president.
Police are required to identify themselves and read you your rights if they are detaining you yet we are in the dangerous gray area of martial law that hasn’t even been declared yet clearly is being enacted, by a violation of people’s civil liberties.
The 30th anniversary of the Americans Disability Act and IDEA 504 being signed into law just came and went yet it’s actively fought against and not upheld in many areas of our daily lives. Don’t get me started on schools…
We still don’t have the Equal Rights Amendment ratified and added to our Constitution so gender inequality is still legal dependent on the situation or, apparently, the attitude of those in power at the moment.
Yet there are people that are still expressing their support of the incumbent President and the GOP that is propping him up. Why? Honestly, why? I find it hard to believe that anyone would be against equality or a person’s right to civil liberty.
What about equality scares people so much?
Why should my rights be denied to protect someone else’s beliefs?
Is asking someone to wear a mask really that insulting or is it the idea of losing their self-governance? Are we asking them to align themselves politically with the left in their minds as if it is a sign of defeat to wear one?
How is that any different than my right over my health care being denied to me to assuage their religious beliefs over my right to self-governance and plan my family?
(I know. I just threw more questions at you without citing any references or giving you any answers. My apologies, they’re at the end of the article because I’m being lazy.)
Refusing to wear a mask when asked is like refusing to stop peeing on a stranger’s leg. Science doesn’t need to prove to you how unsanitary that is any more than I need to share the facts about how viruses spread just to make that person feel better about wearing a mask or keeping it zipped. I shouldn’t have to say “don’t piss on me” any more than I should have to say “please don’t cover me in a virus”.
Owen summed it up best as he came into the room as we were watching the debate together.
“Uuuugh, is this more of the “erection” talking?!”
We paused the video and collapsed into laughter. He was understandably upset with us and we tried to reassure him with cuddles. His sister was mortified and rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“OOOO-wen! It’s the debate for the “election”…ugh.”
My mom filter kicked in and stopped me from saying my inside words. Hey, hold on a sec. I think you’re both right.
So where does that leave us? What’s the plan? I wish I knew. More importantly, I wish we had someone in charge who had a plan that benefited all of us. I guess I’ll have to wait for the “erection” results this November and hope that we’re not following just another “erection” for four more years. Please, for the love of everyone, vote.