Resisting Depression—Like a Boss

 

I stepped over to my manager’s cube and announced my depression. It occurred to me yesterday morning before heading into work, all slumped against my pillow with TODAY and a mug of coffee, that this persistent weight of sadness even Hoda can’t cheer away is simple, unmistakable, good ole fashioned “feeling depressed.”

And searching for a substitute for that word to avoid repetition I realize how perfectly descriptive that word is, depressed: I’m a tongue and the thin wooden paddle of life is squishing me, causing me to gag and my eyes to water. My spirit, the lever of me, is being pushed into submission. I am dispirited. I’m pressed. Down.

I’ll be fine. I’ve felt worse. It’s just that one of those normal life passages that pass for loss looms. My sweet little bird—my second and final—is about to fly from the nest. I realize that this is not a tragedy, but I am more than sad. “You’ve done this before, with your boy,” you say, and you’re right. But that was different. Due to a host of challenges, poor lad, the weeks and months leading up to his departure knotted me up in worry more than sadness.

He was the first, and I ached for him and still miss him when he’s gone, but this one’s so final. This one marks the empty nest milestone and all that comes with it. (When Mayo Clinic offers coping tips, it’s real.) I feel downright depressed, though mildly enough to have energy to seek ways to fight it, thank goodness.

So since my boss, whose only child has been away at college in another state for two years, seems not to be suicidal, I decided to confide in her. “I’m depressed,” I said beneath the office glare, “because Grace is leaving for college in less than three weeks.” I went to her thirsty for some sage perspective, which she offered freely. She gently reminded me of a well-tested device. “Make a list,” she said, “of what you have to be thankful for. Try to focus on all the good things about the situation.” This experienced mama bird was prescribing gratitude.


A List of Good Things About Now, or My Attempt at Gratitude

  1. I have the luxury of dreading my little girl’s departure purely because I will miss her and not because I am worried. I feel assured that she is in a good place, every indication that she is ready to launch.
  2. She was accepted into the honors program and will be living in a spankin’ new residence hall (with AC!) with other honors students at a well respected institution of higher learning. This is a very good thing.
  3. She likes her assigned roommate.
  4. My girl will “only be an hour away” by car. But here’s the thing: she could be a two-hour plane ride away, and the everyday reality of my house is the same—she will not be in her room cuddling our cat, on the couch beside me watching TCM, playing her guitar on the screened porch. No more impromptu “belly walks” around the block or binge-watching Nashville (poor Deacon). But the point of this list is to practice gratitude—so okay, I can get there or she get can get home within an hour if she needs anything (or if I need her). I am thankful for that.
  5. My daughter and I have a relationship that is sweet enough to miss. She and I have a kinship it never even occurred to me to wish for. I didn’t know this quality of mother-daughter closeness could exist. She’s a dear friend, my most fun pal. Her presence is sunshine and light. I want to be more like her when I grow up. If I say more now, I will cry and not stop.
  6. Sadness impelled me to write this blog post, the first in two years.
  7. Technology. My sage supervisor recently used FaceTime to coach her daughter through cleaning a room fan. With the magic of a video phone, separated by 800 miles they conquered a household task together. When I was  three states away in college, I had to rely on handwritten letters and long-distance calls on a wall phone. Grace’s and my smart phones will easily connect us. I will still have access to that sweet face and can hear daily details of her life as often as she allows, and will also be available to her when she needs me.
  8. She seems excited to go. In two months she has gone through her own stages of grief—from bummed about not getting into her top choice, to confusion over the leftovers, to defeatist about where she decided to go, to ambivalence, to acceptance, to enthusiasm enough to design and construct her own tassel-embellished bedspread. This is huge and it all has been a wonder to watch.
  9. I have a daughter at all. God let me be her mom, to live 18 years with this girl. She is a miracle, a dream, and everything good my heart ever longed for. She’s healthy, happy, sweet, kind, smart, and motivated to go forth and fulfill her potential. This is the best case scenario of parenting.
  10. My boss. She is pretty cool, and she is a friend.

I’m still a wee bit depressed, and I probably will be for the next few months at least. But if smiling can fool a brain into thinking it’s happy, then listing the good things about my baby bird leaving the nest may well fool me into acceptance. (Or at least get me to Thanksgiving.)

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Be Thanking

Living on pins, needles these past months since

Surviving a second heart attack in eleven years I’m finally

Beginning to relax,

Feeling better, better than back to normal, lighter, back to

Working at my

Marketing job for a

Publishing company, which isn’t all that creative but freed me to reserve my creative energies for

Digging into deep thesis revisions, finally finished, and now the joy of

Crafting it into a manuscript, because a friend who read it thanked me for

Revealing, in my stories, a gracious God, a

Loving God, the same one who let my heart keep

Beating in July, so that in November, this quiet

Thanksgiving

Morning I am

Enjoying just

Sitting on my Crate and Barrel couch

Watching another Macy’s Day parade, my 49th, and

Sipping coffee my

Darling husband brewed, and I can see outside tiny snowflakes

Falling, and I can hear the egg timer shaped like a chicken

Ticking down the minutes for the pumpkin pie, my sweetie’s favorite, in the oven

Baking,

Filling our home with cozy aromas after yesterday, a glorious, common day of

Cleaning and

Cooking and

Nesting to give my babies, two teenagers who are still in their beds

Sleeping, memories of a normal holiday with their mother who loves them more than life still

Breathing,

Typing this little post,

Trying in vain to capture her gratitude by

Counting the ways she is blessed with gifts so good it’s

Embarrassing, so extravagant that all she can do is just be

Thanking.

Which Way to the Vomitorium?

Which Way to the VomitoriumAs I’ve mentioned before, being a mom to this particular son* is a gas—and always educational. This morning I decided to visit him in his room before he fully woke up and remembered his mother irritates him to no end. He rewarded me by reading aloud, in Latin and then English, selections from “Which Way to the Vomitorium?” My personal favorites came from the “Girl Talk” chapter, which offered handy phrases for any modern woman:

“I need 8 slaves to carry my litter.”

“Can you pass me the rat head mixture? mM hair is getting a bit thin.”

“Please don’t read any of your poetry out loud again at dinner; we’ll lose all our friends.”

With holiday season upon us (I know this because of the piped-in carols I heard at my grocery store last night 3 weeks before Thanksgiving), you’ll want to add this book to your gift list for your favorite Latin teacher or smarty pants polyglot friends and family. Merry Holidays!

*He prefaced his recitation by explaining to his Latin-ignorant mother that “vomitorium” means “theatre exit,” “from ‘uomere,’ meaning to spew forth.”

Healing The Heart with a Big Giant Kid and a Little Kiddie Lit

The Runaway Bunny

The second sweetest thing about cardiac recovery is the extravagance of time you find to loll on the screened porch playing the synopsis game with your 18 year-old son, who hasn’t yet read the books you’ve loved in college and half a lifetime, but who has read the books you loved and hated in high school but can’t recall.

The sweetest thing about cardiac recovery is winning at the synopsis game against your über literary little boy-man, with the clue, “a child tries to prove his independence by leaving in many ways, never escaping the persistence of his mother’s love,” and the prize: digging out, dusting off, and reading aloud to this man the book he doesn’t remember finding in his first Easter basket, a book you read and re-read to him before naps, after naps, at bedtime, and so many times in between until the pages were bent and sticky and smudged with too swift a season.

“Have a carrot.”

Have a carrot. Image borrowed from Rob's Thoughtful Spot
Image borrowed from Rob’s Thoughtful Spot

Adventures in Parenting Jack: Translating Halldór Laxness (Say HUH?)

I was working on a meditative essay to post on this here writey blog, but the following Facebook status update by my dear son, pictured below (in what I think should be his online dating profile picture, should he ever online-date in his twenties), derailed me. You’ll understand why.

Oh, and as any good anglophile, he punctuates the UK way. Also, why do I even try to write? OY, this kid:

For those of you reading Independent People, the protagonist’s name, Bjartur, is Icelandic. That means it’s not pronounced like American English. It’s not pronounced “buh-JAR-der” or “buh-jar-TUR” but “bee-ART-oor”. The letter j in most European languages besides French and English is just a consonant version of the letter i. That means it makes the same sound as i does (ee), but is not stressed as a vowel. It’s kinda like the consonant y in modern English.

Also, the word “bjartur” comes from Old Norse (bjartr) and is cognate with Old English “beorht”, whence comes “bryht” and thereby “bright”. “Beorht” in Old English was later shortened to “Bert” and was often used as a suffix in names like Albert, Athelbert, Egbert, et cetera, so to avoid all this pronunciation confusion, one could simply refer to Bjartur by his English cognate name:
Bert.
"Oh....hello, ladies." Username: LiteraryCatMan
“Oh….hello, ladies.” Username: LiteraryCatMan
DISCLAIMER!
DISCLAIMER!

Disclaimer: I take no credit for the kid’s head. He had it when he emerged from the womb. Credit goes to his Designer and to Jack, for all the study and research that led to his acquisition of linguistic knowledge. It’s a beautiful mind, in spite of his mortal mother. It’s just Jack.

It’s Not Flashy, It’s Not the Himalayas Or Vegas; BUT Giving Back (and not) Can Happen Here and Small

I started writing these thoughts as an entry for a Thanksgiving season “giving back” essay contest my MFA program was hosting, but when I missed the deadline (over dread of rejection) I decided to make it mine.

Cupcake Girls
More on Cupcake Girls
Below

Last month my girlfriend Brooke passed a few nights holed up in a Katmandu apartment, praying and fist pumping against injustice, ticking down the niggling hours her husband spent in Nepal brothels with prostitutes the age of my 9th grade daughter. He and two men from an organization called Tiny Hands* were there to gather evidence via interviews—and used condoms, when they could got their hands on them, yes-you-read-that-right—for local authorities to use in the prosecution of sex trafficking perpetrators. Brooke and Jeff are taking a year away  from their real jobs as social worker and physical therapist to travel the world writing and photographing for a social justice travel magazine—first to Rwanda, then Cambodia, Nepal, Vegas and Cuba.

Kind of kicks the shit out of the cans of creamed corn and kidney beans I plunked into a grocery bag and placed on my front porch for a local church to pick up for their food drive a few Sundays ago.

And then some little girl featured on Christian radio, Gracie, just five years old, knocks me down. She got it in her mind after watching Cinderella or some such shoe-related fairytale that she wanted to collect 67 pairs of shoes for children whose parents can’t afford them. She handily exceeded her goal to the tune of 80 pairs to donate to this organization that exists to shod “orphan souls” around the world.

Kind of makes my one shoebox a year stuffed with underwear and crayons for Samaritans Purse to send as Christmas gifts to kids across the ocean look anemic, flaccid, half-hearted.

DIY bookshelf makeover
The Boy’s DIY Book Shelf

The same week I heard the shoe story on the radio, I stopped by Menards for supplies for a thesis-avoiding DIY project restoring a couple dated bookshelves, one for my son’s extensive book-and-stuff collection and one for my office. On my way out carrying a bag stuffed with multiple, unnecessary cans of paint and primers in various colors, I passed a cashier dragging a Volkswagen-sized box labeled “Wrapped New Toys.” Customers invited to donate new toys to kids in need took me back ten years: When my kids were little, the week before Christmas I’d have scan the toy room for toys they no longer played with, intending to teach them the value of sharing (and, conveniently, to make room in the clutter for their new booty due the 25th). We’d wipe down discarded cars, Barbies, dinosaurs, books and building blocks, wrap them in festive paper and bows, and haul them down Christmas Eve night and leave them outside the front door of the Hispanic church. That was fun.     It now strikes me as presumptuous, and maybe even a little condescending. Our hearts were in the right place, but I’m sure it was more fun for us to play Santa than for the church secretary to be burdened with schlepping the heavy box inside (or to the dumpster, because how on earth would the gifts be disbursed or trusted to be safe?).

In an interview I read a few years back, Tom Hanks (or, I don’t know, maybe it was Billy Crystal) said the key to a strong marriage is to out-give each other, to out-generous your spouse. If every person in town would apply this principle to his or her sphere of influence—the gas station attendant beleaguered by lottery customers, the downsized mid-level management guy slinging fries since the banks ruined the economy, or even the neighbor across the street who never wants to wave back at you—what kind of sweetness would it lend to our lives? What kind of heaven on earth would we create if we out-gave the people who get under our skin and those we love, or those we love who get under our skin?

GET OFF MY ---!
GET OFF MY —!

Which makes me think about the idea of applying the Out-Give-Your-Spouse thing to the greater world, but in reverse. As in, not giving back the garbage dumped into the laps of our experience. A Twitter acquaintance  recently posted, “I wonder if Saab comes in a doesn’t-tailgate-me model,” to which I replied, “BMWs too.” What is it with import drivers, like the BMW that always seems to tailgate me down my own street on its way to its more affluent cul de sac?? I suppose they feel they’re entitled because, well, they have created a world in which they are. They’ve worked for it. It chaps my hide, hard, to be tailgated in my Toyota minivan by a shiny, spendy import (Mercedes drivers seem to show more consideration, however), but then I find myself doing the same thing to the timid Ford Focus driver creeping through the roundabouts that clog my city’s avenues. I growl from behind the tan vinyl wheel of my middle class vehicle, and snark, “C’mooon, man, drive!” I try not to cuss. I don’t even notice that I’m trailing closely, and for me it has nothing to do with entitlement but everything to do with impatience and bad manners. My own. And then I notice the silver headed driver and feel guilt pelt my stomach. And I think, B, how bout not giving back once in awhile?

So this week, three weeks from Thanksgiving, my Nepal sex traffic fighting friend and her husband are headed to Vegas for their next mission: helping and reporting on Cupcake Girls, an organization that shows God’s love by offering cupcakes (and other services, including medical, financial, dental assistance) to women who work in strip clubs and leaving tracts and judgment for other so-called Christians. Her blog post about the Cupcake Girls pricks me with a question: What will I be doing to show God’s love during the three weeks they’re in and out of seedy joints? In between dipping in and out of O’Malias for dinner stuffs, buying presents, painting furniture, obsessing over dust and décor in my home, and baking pumpkin pies, maybe I can look for small ways to give back and NOT to give back.

I’m just not in a position in the current stage of my life to afford, in time or money, the grand gestures. But that doesn’t take me off the hook to invoke a little heaven on earth, to give back blessings—of friendship, kindness, hospitality, generosity—with which my family and I have been embarrassingly showered. Even without the freedom to donate weeks and months of time or loads of money, it is possible to open my eyes to ways in which I can out-give my family and people in my community. Brainstorm:

GIVING BACK IDEAS

  • Bake a loaf of spice bread and walk over to the widow across the street.
  • Make a little extra soup and take it to the nutty neighbors in ill health, the ones with the frequent visits from cop cars and fire trucks.
  • Place a smile in my voice with an incompetent customer service person on the other end of my phone call.
  • Offer a kind word to a bag boy.
  • And how easy is it to throw into the shopping cart cans of veggies or bags of beans when you see “10 for $10” and drop it all off at a food bank or the Methodist church on the corner? (All Methodist churches have food banks, don’t you know.)

NOT GIVING BACK IDEAS

  • Choose to rag a little less on my kids for their messy bathroom and comment a little more often on all they do to make me proud, appreciating a little more the ways in which they lighten our home with youthful abandon.
  • Instead of, “Your room is out of control,” say to my creative daughter, “The fact that you’ve spent so many hours practicing guitar really shows in the quality of your playing, Grace. You sound amazing.”
  • Or instead of saying to Mr. Bates, “Would you please squeeze out the wet sponge instead of leaving it in the bottom of the sink to rot?” try, “Honey, I feel really grateful to have a partner who is so helpful in the kitchen. I’m aware not many husbands pick up a dish sponge let alone use one on dirty pans.”
  • Pray for the guy in the BMW riding my back bumper.
  • You know. That sort of thing.

All in all, a long, meandering way of saying: Give back good stuff to the extras and main characters in your life story; harness and trash the bad stuff and negativity doled out or spoken into your life, which you might be leaching out without realizing it.

*Click for more information on Tiny Hands International.

To read the social justice travel magazine for which friend Brooke reports and photographs, click World Next Door.

Why I’m Not Comfortable Using the Word Motherf*^#er (but please feel free, unless you’re my kid)

 Short answer: I have teenagers.

“Like they don’t hear it at school,” you say. “Or say it themselves.”

Yeah, I realize teenagers are fluent in profanity—I was in junior high and high school once. But that doesn’t mean I’m off the hook from preserving for my daughter, 13, and son, 16, one pocket in their lives where an elevated level of gentility and decorum are modeled. Not that I’m genteel. But relatively speaking, I’m Emily Post.

In the car on the way home from school the boy will occasionally drop the f-bomb or other four letter words, and I can tell you his sister is genuinely offended. You see, the men in her life, well, for the most part, reserve their use of profanity for extreme situations, like severed limbs or totaled cars. Near tears she says, “Jack, why do you have to say that?” I call him out, remind him, “Gentlemen don’t speak that way,” and he says, “Mom, it’s just language.” And if this is as rebellious as it gets, I’m fine, but it’s just language?

Language is everything. Words have power.

I was raised to feel that cussing is the communication equivalent of open-mawed mastication, talking with your mouth full (AGGG!) or elbows on the table during a meal. In my home growing up, the following words were banned:

  • God
  • pee
  • fart
  • hate
  • shut (with “up”)
  • shit
  • pissed
  • ass
  • asshole
  • butt
  • stupid

It was natural to hear our mother respond from the kitchen to a smashed or sliced finger, in an amplified voice: “ESSS! AAAICH!” You knew it must really hurt if she got to “EEYYYE!” Never once heard her spell out the entire word, or say it. And my mother was, and is, no Stepford wife. She’s zany, well read, and filterless in her comments and opinions, but consistent in her relentless avoidance of profanity. (Though since Dad’s death she tends to overuse the “pissed.” I think it’s her way of coping. Widows gone wild.)

mein lieber Dada
mein lieber Dada

My dad, an articulate gentleman marketing exec who also happened to have served in the Navy during the Korean war, wasn’t quite as controlled in his profanity management. In fact, till we could read we thought our mother’s name was “GoddammitRuthann.” But he never tossed around the more vulgar sh^t or f*#k. He was no milquetoast, though. He was Don Draper, not Ward Cleaver. [<<<YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THAT ONE. You’re welcome. End of aside.] I’m betting the farm he let the saltiest words fly on the golf course or with his fishing buddies on the St. John’s River, contexts that strike me as completely appropriate for unrestrained language.

Another appropriate—prescribed, even—occasion for well-chosen profanity, IMHO, is written dialogue. If a character in a work of fiction (or non fiction for that matter), swears like a sailor, and art reflects life, that character must not be muzzled. To pretend that people don’t really speak that way is ridiculous (CBA, I’m mean you). I’m not talking gratuitous swearing, but it is far more believable to read unsupervised teens expressing horror or surprise with “Oh my God!” than “Oh my Gosh!”; or disgust with a villain with, “She’s a total bitch!” vs. “She’s a real meanie.” Even if it’s not my own personal standard for my own children—that’s how certain normal people are going to talk in certain situations. I mean, hell, it’s realistic.

source
source

If a character in my novel witnesses a family member being maimed or killed, or she’s attacked by a bully, she might say something stronger than, “Gee whiz! That’s really bad!” In fact, Allison Lynn, my MFA Long Form Workshop professor, recently called me out for putting unrealistically soft language in my young teen girl characters’ mouths. Her assertion was that they didn’t sound real, not true to life, that in the absence of adult supervision they’d be experimenting with the vernacular. Because that’s what kids really do. (Dammit.)

And so do many adults, writers in particular. And that’s fine; I don’t judge them. It sounds just right when they say it, and they’re usually  strategic. I take no offense—except that they’re far more successful than I am, and I worry that my reluctance to cuss handicaps me, branding me irrelevant.

It’s not my responsibility to groom or correct anyone who didn’t emerge from my womb. It just doesn’t feel right for me. And, I think the trendy swear words sound stupid coming out of my mouth. Like miniskirts: they just don’t look good on me. But Alicia Silverstone sure could rock hers. And how gorgeous are Scarlett Johansson’s lips in crimson? I look like a clown in red lipstick.

And there’s this: when I swear my spirit zings a little, no doubt because of the Bible verse installed in my memory as a child that reverberates anytime profanity slips from my mouth or fingers. This one: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV); and, from another version, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Each word a gift. I like that. Another translation says it thusly:

“When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.”* 

[Ask my husband: I am proficient in uttering “harmful things” with nary an f- or s- or b- or c-word in sight. But I’m working on it, constantly, and I strive to write in such a way that the words I choose will do some good. But that’s another matter. End of aside.]

I’m sure we’ve all heard, primarily from grandparents, librarians, and middle school English teachers, that “cussing shows a lack of intelligence” or is a sign of “verbal laziness.” There may be traces of truth in those statements, but I do believe there is power and exhilaration in the well placed f-bomb. Like, and we count on The Rumpus for such exhortations, on the mugs that sold out at the AWP conference in Boston quoting (the not at all lacking-in-intelligence or lazy) Cheryl “Dear Sugar” Strayed, seated next to Augusten Burroughs, concluded her presentation on the final night, with the charge to us eager writers to go forth and “write like a motherfucker.” Just freaking write was the point she was making, and her use of the electric MF word placed that advice in bold, punctuating it with a big loud exclamation point.

*Thanks, Cheryl Strayed, for the writerly kick in the bu#%.  It was just the word I needed.

Free to Report Bullying

In the handbook of the school system attended by my children and funded by my household, under the section about bullying (defined as overt, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal … communication … by a student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate or harm the other student) there is a point that states: Parents should feel free to report suspected acts of bullying to an appropriate school official.

We should feel free, shouldn’t we, to stand up for our children in any way we can, no matter how ineffectual in its discipline is a school system that retains coaches after they allowed sexual assault to occur on a team bus with no immediate consequence to their inaction?

We should feel free to advocate for our son who has endured ridicule for three years to the point where he, stretched beyond his attempts to remain tough and tolerant, finally breaks down in the kitchen after school and confides in his mother how a boy in gym class yelled at him, this smart, tender, artistic guy with a medical diagnosis that makes his long, spidery legs, clumsy and akimbo, run in an awkward, uneven stride, “Hey, Jack. RUN! Don’t SKIP!”

The mom should feel free to report how the boy, an athlete who is inexplicably “popular” (in spite of obnoxious interpersonal habits) punctuated this ridicule with, “FAGGOT!”

Why don’t I feel free?

Caveat: 25% of the school officials contacted in this matter have been compassionate and responsive. This school system has offered mostly premium educational opportunities and exceptional creative outlets for our children’s edification and enrichment.

Hell Has Frozen Over…

Happy Birthday, darling

…and I’m in it.

Happy Birthday, darling
What a mom won't do for her kid

After a gloomy weekend of rainy weather, it’s Monday, the kids have a Flex Day, and the sun is shining. The sun is shining bright like a blue sky day on the beach, it’s 75 degrees, and I’m in the Carmel Ice Skadium writing a Bosma internal newsletter on my laptop while my daughter skates stumbly laps for two-and-a-half hours with four other 11-ish buddies. It’s her birthday, and spending three hours in a cooler was her choice.

And since Grace really is the best girl who was ever born, truly, I didn’t hesitate to oblige her. But between you and me, I appreciate this opportunity to complain. Not that I didn’t spend hours in this very place after school and on weekends when I was her age, learning spins, jumps and spirals. Like with so many other haunts in this town I left in ’83 never to return, I’ve had enough of this particular locale. I never needed to see it again. Or smell it. It still smells like feet, sweat and dirty frost. The steel rafters, wooden stands carved with marks from a million blades, and cinderblock bathroom walls painted yellow remain as they appear in my memory.

A change in ownership a few years back, though, and an accompanying infusion of capital have resulted in some significant improvements. Topping the list is a new manager—a friendly, helpful guy they hired away from a rink near Seattle. (The old guy was aloof, loud, and rude. And I’m not saying the year, exactly, but it was earlier than 1980.) Mr. New Manager says they brought him on to “fix” the Carmel Ice Skadium, specifically the facility and programming. (“We sell ice. Ice and fun.”) When I asked him to pinpoint the most critical fix, he said, “Customer service.”

Friendly, helpful help goes a long way, sure, but so does a new and improved snack bar that sells hot Starbucks beverages, Tazo teas, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, pizza, and…BEER! (Mommy needs a beer, but nothing makes a responsible adult wait to drink at home more effectively than four little girls who depend on said Mommy to provide safe return to their mommies and daddies.)

One girl left because she was bored (a wrist injury prevented her from skating-???); another sulked by my side, slurping her blue slushie in my ear for fifteen minutes trying to annoy me into giving her money for a snack (I resisted), but the other three party girls skated and fell and skated some more until it was cake and present time. After the girls slimed a tabletop with their blue and red slushie juices, I offered to wipe it down. The new manager smiled and said, “We’ll take care of that. You just relax. Is it going okay?”

Grace is having a blast, it seems. And it’s not too bad for me, really. The prices are reasonable – $5 for kids, $3 for rental. I’m picking up someone’s internet signal. And the new manager, with his efforts at creating a tidier facility and a better experience for kids and parents, has made this afternoon’s warm weather deprivation a little less hellish.

Jen Sherrick Shot My Babies and My Heart

(With her Canon.)

This photographer sees the beauty I see in my children and captures it on film. More examples in a later post, but check this artist’s work on Jen’s website. And see the cutie brother and sister on her blog!

Yep, on the July 14 post, them’s my babies!

Here’s the headshot Jack used for his IRT audition today, his 12th birthday! (It’s from a scan, so it’s not as clear as the real thing.)

Not a professional shot:

My Big Birthday Boy!
My Big Birthday Boy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK!!!

No Fear in the Light

God is good. He just is. 

Luke 12:2-3

There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Summer sunset over Indiana.

 

NOT A LAUGHING MATTER

My last post about poor Jack sending a distress signal from camp found a twist this evening when I discovered that the camp was negligent in dispensing his medication. It turns out they gave him half a dose of his meds, which led to intense and sudden drug withdrawal, leading to very real physical, mental  and emotional pain and suffering. I’m infuriated at this moment and am eager to talk with the camp director about this horrific mistake. When we arrived to pick him up on Thursday, he was in tears. He took all the blame on himself for his miserable week at camp. He was calling himself a “wuss” for “chickening out” on the zipline — an activity and accompanying anxiety he conquered at a retreat last fall. He saw his miserable week at camp as his failure. My child was suffering due to the incompetence of camp staff or some terrible miscommunication that warranted a call to his mother to clarify, for his sake. But they never called.

Symptoms of withdrawal in the medicine he takes can occur as soon as eight hours from the missed dose, which would have put it right about the middle of his first night there. The next day is when he wrote and mailed that letter I wrote about and laughed off. My baby was in pain. And I didn’t realize it until tonight when I found the bottle that I had supplied with the exact number of pills he would need, a bottle that should have been empty. The bottle contains four halves of his pills. I can’t stand it. I’m so upset and angry. When we greeted him, he said with a great deal of urgency, “Get me out of here. I don’t ever want to come back.” A careless error in judgment led to the end of my little boy’s innocence. 

I’m happy to report he’s home and feeling better, more like himself now. But he’ll never trust camp again, and that’s just tragic. And it’s going to take time to convince him that his lousy week wasn’t his fault.