Creative Blocks and Rocks

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Back in April, just about the time I was trying to untie my creativity from a paralysis of over-analysis and get the last few pages of The Truth about Trolls laid out, Thing2 was exploring his and putting my resolve not to limit it to the test. 

His spring time creative effort led to a rock pile in the middle of his room, the fruits of a “quarry” he and a couple friends had started near the kids’ Lord of the Flies training ground in the woods behind our house.

That was three weeks ago. The rock pile is still there.

He’s cleaned his room. I have cleaned his room-a bit. Laundry has been done. Baths have been had. But that rock pile is still there.

At first thing to wanted to hang onto it. Then he was afraid he wouldn’t clean it up the right way. 

It was a story writing itself (Élly has been very understanding, as long as her pages keep developing). 

Thing2, aware that the rock pile and the absurdities of our undeclared battle are serving as inspiration, is more determined than ever that it should stay. To his credit, however, he has moved it out of the center of the room so the rest of us can get from point a to point B without breaking or next.

I’ve decided to exercise my mom authority and remove the “inspiration” as soon as he goes to camp or I finish his story, whichever comes first.

In It Together

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My sons are the center of my life.  They are the center of my husband’s life. 

Today, Congress began changing the future drastically for my eldest son by endangering his ability to obtain insurance when he is an adult. 

Today Congress rolled back Obamacare, and with it, protection for millions of people with pre-existing conditions (replaced with high risk pools).  My son is one of those people. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder (a lifetime diagnosis) that requires medications that would be unattainable for us without insurance. 

He’ll be a man soon, and, again – through no fault of his own –  he may find it more difficult to get coverage or possibly even job, since he will have to evaluate the laws in each state and not every employer will want to cover hires in his situation. It will  Even so, he’s lucky compared to the millions of Americans who will lose insurance outright. He’s still on our insurance plan, and we’ll keep him there as long as the law allows.

Jimmy Kimmel hinted at some of this the other night in his emotional monologue. He briefly touched on the fact that, prior to the ACA, a child like his would have reached his lifetime insurance cap before he left the NICU. If that child had appendicitis, or a broken bone, or cancer, that cap would have left many parents bankrupt at best or burying their child at worst — even if they had insurance.  

I have thought a lot about those other parents in the months since our son was diagnosed. When we get our meds, I silently thank our company for making it possible and then shake my head that anyone in a country as rich as ours might have to watch their child suffer or even die.  I shake it when I wonder how many people die prematurely because they don’t have access to the same healthcare we do, and I wonder how we benefit as a society from treating children and poor people like disposable objects. 

I call my representatives. I donate. And I shake my head. But today I’m done shaking my head.  I’ve thought about moving our family back to a country with stronger healthcare, but I’d still be shaking my head at the drugstore, wondering how people back home were managing without access.  

So now I’m still calling my representatives and donating, but I’m also looking for new ways to show solidarity with my son and with all the other people who are being pushed out in the cold. Because, as Jimmy Kimmel so beautifully stated, “We need to take care of each other.”  

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Yours, Mine, Ours

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For some reason I had a lot of gay friends in high school. It wasn’t something I planned or even thought about until senior year, when a number of friends started coming out.

Homosexuality was not an issue prior to that, and my friends were my friends. Who they loved would never became an issue for me.  They were wonderful people before they were out, and they were (and are) wonderful people after they were out.

Those relationships stayed close beyond high school and brought new friendships with them.  It never occurred to me that there was anything unusual about having a lot of gay friends because that was what I knew.

Most of my close friends had relatively supportive families when they came out, but over time I heard horror stories of people being shunned and even threatened with violence by their own flesh and blood.  I knew of at least one friend who was beaten up simply for ‘acting’ gay even before he himself had seriously contemplated who he was.

It wasn’t until I started dating more that I realized that some people really did have a problem with homosexuality. Some of the objections were religious, but more frequently, there seemed to be an unfounded fear of unwanted sexual advances (ironically often in men who themselves were aggressive with me).

I ended relationships when it became clear that the man I was seeing would never accept my friends.  For a long time, I believed my own intractable position was founded on the fact that my friends were a non-negotiable part of my life, but as I’ve married and we’ve gone our own ways geographically, my feeling is stronger.

It wasn’t until I had a son who defied convention with his tutus and fairy wings that I understood why it had mattered to me so much back then that any companion be accepting of my gay friends.  But when my unconventional son began asking to wear his rainbow wig to the diner, the empathy and love I had felt for those people crystalized.

It wasn’t just acceptance of my friends, I had wanted. It was the assurance that if any child of mine was different, a future husband would respond the way the Big Guy does — by asking if our different child wants to wear his superhero cape with his wig.

It hit again Sunday when the news came in from Orlando, and I read of a mother reading the last texts from her son, knowing he might be dying and that his last moments were filled with terror.

It hit because as a mother I knew that the last thing she probably cared about at that moment was who her son loved.  The only thing that mattered was that she wanted him to be safe so that he could love.

I knew that could have just as easily been my kid who had wanted acceptance and freedom from fear.  It could be your kid that was refused housing or service or even medical care. It could be any of ours that was in that night club in Orlando, murdered for the crime of loving someone.

I don’t know what the future holds for my unconventional son, and it is not our job to project an orientation on to him. It is our job to make sure he knows that our love doesn’t come with conditions and to work for a world where everyone’s kid can be honest about whom they love without fear.

Color it Clean… or maybe just Sane

This is Johnny’s room. Color the walls Horrified-Yellow. Color dirty clothes ‘Condemned-Green’. and alternate between  ‘Black-Hole Blue-Black’ and ‘Wine Red’* for the rest of the space. *Removing “Whine Red’ color from crayon box strongly recommended prior to contemplating room.

So my post about turning brother against brother to get a room clean, generated a few comments and a bunch of emails, mostly from or about other moms recounting tales of terror inspired by room-cleaning events.  There were stories of discovering new life-forms that had evolved from 3-month-old left overs, of dirty socks that could only be moved to the washer while wearing protective gear, and more than one person admitted to blocking out their kids’ rooms from memory until they flew nest.

The disgusting kids room is the 800 pound load of laundry overflowing the mental-health hamper. So in the furtherance of parental peace and sanity, I created a coloring page in honor of anyone who’s been tempted to do a Joan Crawford on their kid’s room.

Download and Enjoy!