Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Even Reading to Your Children Can Be a Problem Sometimes

Every Saturday morning we have a young woman come to the house to watch the girls so we can get things done around the house. E is currently working on a MFA in Writing Children’s Literature. She let us borrow some books to read to the girls. These books were amazing even though they were a little above Emma and Allison’s comprehension level. One of the most interesting and creative of those books was The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. I loved reading the book. The illustrations were great. I think children would have even more fun reading it themselves because of the way it is put together.
As much as I enjoyed reading the book, it posed a parenting problem that I wasn’t anticipating. At one point during the book, a brother gets mad at his sister and torments her by telling her that she was adopted. I was on a roll and read through it without before I had a chance to think about it. I immediately looked over at Emma while I continued to read. She didn’t have any reaction this time. The next time I read that book, I can easily skip over that part. That isn’t the issue. The issue is that Emma isn’t always going to be in the company of people sensitive to adoption issues. They will not know to insert something else or to avoid it all together. Even then, Emma will one day soon be able to read herself. I won’t be able to review everything she reads to make sure that it is adoption friendly. Emma is going to hear someone refer to adoption as an insult.
As much as I want to shield her from the ugliness in this world, sheltering her would hurt her more in the long run. She is going to have to learn to come to terms with adoption in general just as she will have to come to terms with her own experience. The same is true for me. I wonder if it would be the correct thing to do to skip or substitute unflattering references to adoption. Should I protect her from that or use it as a teaching moment when she gets older? She’s too young to catch on to what was read yet. When that time comes, should I bring it up myself or wait for her. Not saying anything about such literary references lead her to believe that I agree with those statements or don’t care about her feelings? Would saying something make an issue where this isn’t one for her?
I’m unsure of how to handle this. Has anyone else come across this before? If so, how did you handle it? If not, I would really appreciate your thoughts or suggestions.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Even Closer to Home

There were five other couples in our adoption home study group. Our common struggles and hopes for having a family brought us close together. L & M were the first of us to bring a child home. E, their son, was such a beautiful baby and is now such a handsome little boy. I knew that Lisa worked for Virginia Tech. She took that job after E was born. She was so excited about it. One of her responsibilities is planning the tail gate parties before home football games. I called her and left a message to make sure that she was okay. I didn’t hear back from her; but, since I didn’t know exactly where she worked, I wasn’t worried.

This morning I received an email from her at work. She worked at Norris Hall and was there when that hell was unleashed there Monday morning. I’ve read and heard many first hand accounts of that day, but this was written to me from my friend. My feelings are so conflicted. I wish to God that I knew where she worked so I could have taken off work and gotten down there to help with E and do whatever M might have needed. On the other hand, if I had known I’m not sure how I could have lived waiting to hear from her.

Some of you know that it was my building (Norris Hall) that was under attack and some don't so please bear with me as I try to write you an email......my hands are trembling. It's been so traumatic and I think more and more of the events that took place are hitting us worse now than when it happened on Monday…

Our office met yesterday on campus and although it was really hard to go on campus, after seeing everyone and knowing they were okay, I really think it helped with some of the pain we are going through right now …

This morning we are going in the building to get some essential things and I ask that you pray for each of us. I say now that I think I can do it but of course don't know what will happen once I get to the building. …I almost feel the need to stand in front of the building and let it all out.

Our building will be closed for a long time… we don't want to go back and hope it will be torn down. I don't know when I will feel safe again.

Also pray for E… He has been traumatized not only by the Morva incident and now this. First thing Monday when I didn't pick him up as usual and when he overheard M tell someone that it was my building..... he asked M was I killed…

Please continue to pray for us and the families.........

Last night I checked Drudge. I went to the link about the package the killer (he doesn’t deserve to have his name used or remembered) sent to NBC. I don’t know why I didn’t expect something similar to what I saw, but I was shocked when I saw the picture he had taken of himself in that jacket with guns in both hands. I gasped and choked at the same time. This sick b@st*rd created a life and image for himself to be known by after his finished his sadistic rampage by wimping out and taking his own life. It made me sick to know that I was seeing what those poor men and women saw in their final moments. I had to turn away from the news report – the same reaction I have when watching movies with torture in them.

Knowing now that my friend was in the same building with that maniac only intensifies my disgust. Right now I don’t care that he was troubled or had a terrible childhood. I don’t care who the “you” he mentioned in that tape was – if his words can be believed in the first place. I hate what he has done to all of his victims and family. I want to spit in his face. Actually, I want to do worse. Mostly, I want him to be forced to watch the scene of the 4 year-old boy I once had the pleasure of cradling in my arms asking his father if his mommy got killed.

In my heart I know those thoughts are useless. They are simply an extension of wanting to lash out and being unable to do so. In my anger and disgust last night and again this morning, I have reminded myself that he was someone’s son. As much as I might take heart in the image of him standing in front of a wrathful God, I implore the Loving God caring now for the dead and grieving to care for him as well. More than anyone else, Cho Seung-Hui needs the mercy and forgiveness of his Father.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Are Virginia Tech!

You cannot destroy our spirit. You cannot kill our souls.

Man, you just lost my vote

I wondered which of the 2008 presidential hopefuls would take the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech and attempt to make some political capital. I must say, though, that I'm outraged at the way in which this happened. Comparing the sadistic slaughter of innocent lives to the "verbal abuse" of Dom Imus? Is he serious? Is he so lost inside of his own intellect that he cannot see reality for what it is? Was he concerned about the two days of in your face media coverage he "lost?" WTF?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Outside of Blacksburg I doubt that there is no place more dedicated and devoted to Virginia Tech than the Roanoke Valley. Traffic is a mess during the football season when there is a Hokie home game and there is no where you can turn where you don’t see a Virginia Tech flag, car magnet, sticker, or article of clothing. One of my wonderful neighbors played for VT in his day and you can’t help but get in the Hokie spirit when you see his house decorated for the football season.

Just as the jubilation of winning a championship reverberates throughout my adopted hometown, yesterday’s tragedy filled us with terror and sadness. Three of my co-workers have children studying at VT. I called them to make sure that their children were okay. Thankfully, they were. I wasn’t the only one frantically making phone calls. It breaks my heart to know that not all of those phone calls met with the same relief I experienced. During my lunch break yesterday I went to a local mall to walk with a friend. The mall is usually full of activity. It was shockingly somber there. It was so quiet that we overheard a young woman on the phone trying to find information on a friend or loved one.

Unlike with the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and September 11, I have always been a safe distance physically and emotionally from the tragedies. This is not to say that I didn’t mourn for my fellow citizens and their families. I most definitely did. It’s just that then I could not possibly fathom the affect such a violent tragedy has on the greater community. Southwest Virginia, which includes Blacksburg/Christiansburg and the Roanoke Valley, is a tight knit community. It seems that we can’t leave the house without running into someone we know or someone who knows us through a common friend. It was in this way that the Virginia Tech Massacre has hit home most directly for me.

I received an email this morning from L, a dear young woman I have twice hired as a contractor. She is the first person I have mentored as a technical writer and I’m very proud of where she’s taken her career. One of the first things I learned about L, other than that she is Greek and proud, is that she is an avid and dedicated member of VT’s Tae Kwon Do club. Even though L’s no longer a student at VT, she was voted to be the club’s treasurer this year. The whole club was like an extended family to her. L emailed to let me know that she is safe. Unfortunately, two of her fellow Tae Kwon Do club members were killed in the massacre. L lost two sisters yesterday. I grieve for them because I grieve for Leslie. Her world, like that of so many others, will never be the same. There is nothing I can say or do to change that.

I truly feel as though I am living figuratively and literally in the valley of the shadow of death. For how many students and facility will it be impossible now not to fear evil when they walk into classrooms or enter their dormitories? Who will feel safe this spring as the community attempts to celebrate graduation? How many parents now dread to leave or keep their children away at college – not because they are leaving the nest, but because they are scared that they might be killed? When will the fear of evil leave Blacksburg?

President Bush invoked our loving God yesterday. I do as well when I pray that someday soon the green pastures of the beautiful campus and surrounding farm lands will be what people think about when Blacksburg is mentioned. I pray for the rest and restoration of all of our souls. Loving God, do not let the sadistic act of one disturbed young man destroy the beauty of your creation in Blacksburg.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Signing Off

I'm taking an extended vacation from blogging. I'm not sure when I'll post here or on The Jennifer Tree again. What I feel like writing most of the time I don't feel like making available to the world (boy, do I think highly of myself, eh?) I'm thinking that signals a time for introspection without considering what other people might say. I'll still be dropping by your blogs from time to time ~ just not as often as I used to. Feel free to send an email. I really would love to hear from you.

If you're just dying to read my writing, I will still be working on my 52 Books or Bust. I'm really enjoying that project and I'm always looking for suggestions on what to read next. Feel free to drop by anytime.

I love and appreciate you all. Have a happy spring.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beware of the Baby Bear

When someone gets hurt at Emma and Allison’s daycare, the child is given a piece of ice wrapped in a paper towel or a sterile glove. So, when the girls get hurt at home, often they want to get one of the ice packs out of the freezer. The ice is rarely used for long. The mere presence of it seems to sooth them ~ or at least provides acknowledgement of their injury.

Last night, Emma twisted her ankle while dancing to a song and saying, “Mommy, can you do this?” Danny got her the pink kitty ice pack. Wouldn’t you know it, one of Allison’s boo boos from the other day started to hurt, too. When Danny went to get her some ice, Emma asked for the blue ice pack instead. It wasn’t long before she didn’t want it any more. After she gave it to me, I stuck it under her shirt. She didn’t appreciate this until after I did the same thing to Ally and Ally giggled.

After I put the ice on Emma’s neck so that she could giggle, I told her to “Go get Daddy.” Emma ran over there and put the ice pack on his back. He squealed and giggled and told Emma to “Go get Mommy.” When she didn’t, he ran over to me and put it down my shirt. It was a fun little game, but my reaction must have led Allison to believe that Danny had hurt me. She became very upset and told Danny to stop hurting me. She wasn’t in his face wagging her finger at him, but all of that was implied in her tone. We didn’t take this too seriously right away. She doesn’t like anyone to touch me that much. Danny and I can’t hug or talk in her presence without her trying to stop us. Even after we said that it was just play, she laid down on the couch and was very sad. It took a good deal of explaining and reassurance for her to feel better about what happened. Emma and Danny kept icing each other to help prove the point.

Momma Bear’s Baby Bear is a spunky one. She lets you know exactly what she thinks. It doesn’t matter if you are her parent, sibling, teacher, or friend. You will hear from her if you piss her off. If you start a fight, she’ll finish it. I wouldn’t mess with her Momma if I were you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Momma Bear

I am not what anyone would consider a confrontational person. Every personality test I’ve taken has indicated that I am a supportive person who finds consensus more valuable than fighting for my point of view. I am a Libra for crying out loud. My dad simply summed it up at one point by telling me that I am a “pleaser.”

That’s not the case when it comes to my children. We went to a birthday party at a local kids’ party place that is filled with giant bouncer equipment. My kids really enjoy themselves there. All of the children were running around going from one piece of equipment to the other. At one point, Allison was climbing in when a six or seven year old boy climbs right over her to get in first. I can’t be certain that he heard me, but I yelled at him to be careful of the littler children. Allison wasn’t hurt, but I decided to keep my eye on him. Later on, Emma, Allison and I were alone in the basketball bouncer. This child, we’ll call him Zack, came inside. The very first thing he did was try to shoot baskets that just so happened to be aimed at Emma or Allison, not the basket. I told him again that he needed to be careful. When the next shot hit Emma on the top of the head, I started using a tone of voice that the girls instantly recognized. They stood back. I told him to apologize to Emma for hitting her. When he smiled and said that it was just an accident, I told him that if he tossed a basketball anywhere near one of the girls again that I would bring him to one of the staff members personally to tell them what was going on. As it was, I was tempted to drag him out right then and there. I guess that he was smart enough to leave on his own two legs while he still could.

Since I work so closely to the daycare, when I drive to the other building or to Taco Bell to get a late lunch, I often get the pleasure of seeing Emma playing outside. Today, Emma was running away from Lexie and another Emma. I smiled until I realized that there must have been a reason that she was running away. Based on the way she batted them away when she reached the fence, they probably said something to hurt her feelings. Anyone who knows Emma knows that it is not difficult to hurt those feelings. Still, I wanted to stop my car and get out and find out what was going on. If it was something more than that, I would have some heads (extremely figuratively – these are four year olds, not smartass pre-teen boys named Zack).

If either of those things happened to me – and I know that they have many times, I wouldn’t respond at all. I wouldn’t get angry or be assertive to defend myself. But don’t you dare mess with my babies! This is a typical reaction of mothers across many if not most of the species populating this planet. You protect your young because they are your future. It’s a smart and brilliant instinct.

Now that I know that I have it in me to pounce if I have to, I think I’m going to practice it for myself. Those bastards that have been trying to drag me down had better watch their backs! I’d name them here, but I think I’ll keep the element of surprise and enjoy it.