Posts Tagged ‘children’

A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

Friday, January 27th, 2017

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.

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For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.

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Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.

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Practice Child

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Mood: relaxed | Drinking: not so much

leeloo_nap

A new poem for you, started in June but not finished until last week…

Practice Child

After yelling at my dog,
I decide I will be a terrible mother.

The dog doesn’t want much.
Head pat. Butt scratch. Kibble
and bits.

A child wants more,
takes all. I am afraid
of my overwhelming lack.

I have stored up just enough patience
for paw prints on couch cushions
for plastic bags of fresh poop
for long walks on the beach
followed by a car ride fragrant
with ocean-flavored dog.

But I know nothing of strollers and Similac
of the wonders of flushable diapers
and the dangers of Bisphenol-A.

I am attached to my own independence,
to the ability to spontaneously dash out for dinner
or read away an entire afternoon.

What’s more, canines don’t ask complicated questions
about why God sits back and lets bad things happen.
They don’t fall into a tantrum frenzy upon discovering
that all the blue popsicles have already been eaten.

See? Already the dog has forgiven me,
pushed her wrinkled fawn head
into my chest, snuffled my cheek
with foul-breathed devotion.

Surely, at the very least,
a child would make me pay
for the therapy.

-Lo, who will take some credit for being a pretty good auntie.

Like Lucy

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Mood: Wishful Thinking | Drinking: The Usual Tea

lucypevensie

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Lucy Pevensie.

I wanted to stumble across a magical wardrobe and find myself suddenly transported to a strange world filled with all manner of bewitching possibilities and talking animals.

I believed that if given the chance, I, like Lucy, would be the fiercest ally of dryads and nyads, of fauns and other furry folk.

I would believe in Aslan. I would see him amid the trees when no-one else could, and would keep believing even when all hope was abandoned.

I deserved a chance at magic, I thought, and looked for it everywhere, always expecting to chance upon a clue, a key to Narnia or some other equally fascinating and decidedly non-Earth-as-I-knew-it realm.

Then I grew up.

And now? Now I find my magic in the small places and neglected corners. I find my magic in words and in rhythm and in drinking sweet tea. I find it where I can.

But I still wish I could be Lucy Pevensie. I wish I could believe so easily, hope so bravely.

Perhaps I still have a chance, though. I can’t exactly be Lucy herself (on account of my advanced age and all), but maybe someday I could be her mother.

-Lo, who sometimes believes her dog can speak.

Smells Like Children

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

kids2Mood: Measured
Drinking: Diet Coke in a Can

Last weekend, Boy and I played host to some old friends and their two little rugrats. (It’s an affectionate term, Internet!)

I guess the LeeLoo should get some credit for playing host, too. She was so very polite whilst being covered in shredded bits of Kleenex by small shrieking tots.

I think the game was “TeePee the Dog with the Smallest Bits of Tissue Possible While Giggling Hysterically at Extremely High-Pitched Levels.” She did very well, just laying there and taking it like a champ. But then she does love to lick on baby toes, so I guess the trade-off was more than adequate for her.

We had lots of fun with homemade pizza a walk to the park and small bowls of messy gelato for all. I even dug out a dusty box of coloring books and crayons from the depths of the garage. One of our small guests has a great liking for drawing dinosaurs. He also will only eat crackers and grapes.

The habits of childhood are mystifying to me. I remember having a strong aversion to liver and onions (which has followed me into adulthood), but I don’t remember much about my own toddler-sized likes and dislikes.

After all the sippy cups and ziploc baggies of crackers were stowed away and our guests had tucked themselves back into their minivan and headed east again, Boy looked at me in the blessed silence and said,
“You know, if we have some of our own, they’re not going to go away at the end of the day.”

I flopped down on the couch next to the dog and picked a bit of half-chewed tissue from her ear.
“Yeah,” I sighed.
“I know.”

It’s a topic that’s been beaten to death recently, what with another approaching birthday heralding another year in the Unused Uterus Club, as well as the way one of my very best friend’s little belly is starting to pooch out in an adorably pregnant way.

Boy’s mom wants to know, my Grandma wants to know, people I don’t even know at all want to know, “WHEN ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO START A FAMILY?”

There are so many things I want to say to that question, not the least of which is,
“None of your business!”
And also, “We already ARE a family.”
And then, “I really haven’t the faintest idea.”

At first, there were so many things we wanted to do. And we’ve done a lot of them in the last seven years. But the thing I’m beginning to realize is that you never, ever, finish your To Do List.

Visit one exotic land and you’ll discover six more that you just have to see. Finish one book and you’ll want to write two more. Settle into a little house and you’ll soon need a bigger one. The list will just go on and on, forever.

Meanwhile, in the background, behind all the hustle and everyday bustle, a clock will wind up and start ticking, at first so softly that you can’t even hear it. But the years start to spin by faster and faster and pretty soon the goddamn ticking sound is all that you can hear.

And by “you”, I mean me. Because I’m standing up here with my head cocked to the left like Captain Hook on watch for the crocodile, but Boy can’t hear a thing.

I guess if you’re lacking in ovarian capacity, a biological clock is beside the point.

So there I was on a bright Sunday afternoon, slow roasting in the sun at a playground, feeling like a barren intruder among all those self-confident breeders, a colorless island amidst a river of primary colors, watching the roommate of my bar-hopping days wrangle her children like a seasoned veteran, like a real mommy, like a woman.

And the clock was beating in time to my banging pulse.

Suddenly I was afraid.

They say you’re never really ready for it. I believe it. If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that you’re never really ready for anything. Not even when you’ve read all the books and done all your homework. You’re never prepared for the real thing. You’ve just gotta jump in and kick and splash and cough and swim.

One of these days, one of these days
I’m jumping in.

Until then, I’ll just let my li’l sister tell me how deep and cold the water is…

-Lo, who wants to know if she’s Auntie to a boy or a girl. What are you, Peanut?!