Who really wants to hear about a mean spirited goon who sweeps down upon a population pretending to BE Christmas, all the while stealing everything good about the real Christmas? Probably not you… but I am going to talk about Sarah Palin anyway.
I may mention that Grinch guy too, although, I think he has been usurped by Ms. Palin this year. Their spiritual mind-meld makes me think of them as a single unit, the Grinch-alin. There. I put a name to it.
Yes, Sarah Palin is this year’s Grinch. “I say in a very jolly Christmasy way: ‘Enough is enough!” she declared against stores like Walgreens who do not commercialize Christmas enough. “I love the commercialization of Christmas!” she stated. Her observation of Walgreens: “Walgreens’ 24-page nationwide circular used the word 36 times without one mention of Christmas” !
Walgreens seems to have a knack for not mentioning holiday names… any holiday. Not even ones like Independence Day. Here is their commercial for Easter, which they actually get through without mentioning the name “Easter”.
Walgreens has been completely consistent in their treatment of all holidays, secular as well as of any religion. Who, is not consistent, is Palin. Where is the protest on the “War on Easter”? Why is she pro-Christmas, but apparently Easter apathetic?
She claims she is not alone in her vendetta. She has Thomas Jefferson on her side.
“He (Thomas Jefferson) would recognize those who would want to try to ignore that Jesus is the reason for the season, those who would want to try to abort Christ from Christmas,” she said. The comment was a two-fer… a fictional Jefferson who was not only “anti-war-on-Christmas”, but also imagined to be anti-abortion. I admit it. I am fascinated on how she comes up with this stuff.
Most of the Grinch-alin comments are so close to self parody they actually seem pretty benign. Walgreens does not seem to be losing sales.
Palin’s book starts with a self-revelation that is truly heinous however. It makes me want to keep her away from anything good, wholesome and decent. It shows that the Grinch-alin is truly without a heart.
Last year, eleven days before Christmas a horror unfolded in Newtown Connecticut. A gun man shot and killed six educators and twenty children. The country was in shock and horror, and looking for answers.
Palin gives an account of what was going on in her life as a reaction to these events: “To combat the anti-gun chatter coming from Washington, I surprised him (Todd) with a nice, needed, powerful gun. I then asked him for a metal gun holder for my four-wheeler. Not only was this small act of civil disobedience fun, it allowed me to finally live out one of my favorite lines from a country song: “He’s got the rifle, I got the rack.” As twenty six families were devastated and millions mourned, the Grinch-alin was open for business having fun with guns.
It is time to end this travesty. It is time to stop humoring those who make a big deal out of the word “Christmas” but who gut it of all “peace on earth and goodwill towards humanity” meaning. It is time to take back Christmas from not only those who commercialize it, but worse, for those who use it to sell crappy agenized political tomes.
I shared this plan last year—and I am sharing it again. The plan to take back the real heart of Christmas:
1. Share music. Send music to people that you know they will love, whatever means possible. My boyfriend sang out a beautiful rendition of “Silent Night” to his late mother on a video shot in front of our Christmas tree. He shared this love with his friends list, and emotionally moved many.
2. Bake. My sons and I, no great magicians in the kitchen, whip up our decorated slice-and-bakes and distribute them through the neighborhood. It is an excuse to embrace our neighbors and physical community, and the goodwill it produces lasts beyond the calories.
3. Create beauty. Decorate, paint, design… whatever expression works for you. In my family this year we painted ceramic Christmas village houses. It was fun, it was imaginative and we ended up with pieces that will make us remember the love between us at that given place and time.
4. Do something important for loved ones. I am resolved to worry less about spending money on the ones I love, and doing things that may cost little, but are truly important. Write a poem, frame that great picture together, buy them the used book you KNOW they will love. I thought hard about this a few years ago as I pondered what to give my dad whom I adore, and who is getting up in years and won’t be with me much longer. What can I do for a person like that? As a dad myself, I used that perspective to think about what I would want from my own sons. I constantly am trying to do things for them that they like and enjoy, but the thing that is illusive is which events really stick with them? I decided that my dad may want to know that about me, so I wrote up my “Top 10 Most Memorable Moments” that I had spent with him in my life. He teared and choked up as he read each one aloud to our family. It was hands down the most important gift I had ever given to him, or anyone else for that matter. The list now sits on his nightstand. He reads it to himself every single night since I gave it to him.
5. Adopt people who you don’t know, but need you. There are lots of charitable hands out this year, and I am not really talking about swiping a credit card so funds go to different non-profit funds. Thirty years ago a piece called the “White Envelope” was published in Woman’s Day Magazine. In that story, a woman does something significant for strangers, then shares about it to her family via a note placed on their tree. It is their best family gift.
For those of us who are LGBTQ, we need to fill white envelopes on our trees for our children we have never met.
There are the kids who have come out to their families and been kicked out of their family homes and are now living on the street. What group of children needs love and Christmas more than they do? What group of children is more ours?
If you think this group is a small or an insignificant one, think again. Writer Cathy Kristofferson researched and wrote an important piece in which she paints an accurate and urgent portrait of the LGBT homeless teen. Of the disproportionate rate she states, “Simple. Youth who come out to their parents are rejected by those parents at a rate of 50%, with 26% immediately thrown out of the house to become instantly homeless and many following soon after as a result of the physical and verbal abuse that ensues after their declaration. Empowered by the gains in equality and acceptance with the heightened visibility the adult gay community has welcomed of late, youth are emboldened to come out at ever-younger ages while still reliant on parents who are a flip of the coin away from rejecting them. Simple factors of 4 tell the story of parental rejection and its effect on queer youth homelessness:
2 out of 4 will be rejected by their parents when they come out
1 out of 4 will be kicked out by their parents when they come out
3 out of 4 homeless queer youth will say parent objections to their orientation led to their homelessness
Youth homelessness is bad enough on its own but being queer further compounds the difficulties. Devastating statistics like 62% of queer homeless youth attempt suicide only begin to tell the story of the additional hardship endured when compared with their heterosexual counterparts. Queer youth experiencing homelessness are:
3 times more likely to commit suicide, and 8 times more likely due to parental rejection
3 times more likely to turn to prostitution and survival sex
6 times higher incidents of mental health and substance abuse issues
7 times more likely to experience sexual violence at a much higher risk of victimization by rape, robbery and assault “
There are about 2800 of these kids in Los Angeles, 3000 in San Francisco, there are MORE than that in places like Salt Lake City, and close to 1000 in smaller cities like Detroit. I admit, finding out what you can do for such kids in your personal community, and they are there, is a challenge. It would be easy to ignore and walk away. If the concept of a true LGBTQ Community is real however, these are OUR kids and we need to do what we can to help. There are 300,000 to 400,000 of them that will be homeless this Christmas morning. They are hurt, they are in danger, and they need us.
We can start by making them the White Envelopes on our trees, and we can end with making real differences. Please give it some thought and take some action.
We cannot change the Grinch-alin. She will do what she will do on the public stage. We don’t have to give her Christmas and everything for which it really stands. No, instead, we can change lives, re-take Christmas, word and all, and make memories.
Happy holidays, merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.
By Brandy Black
I have gotten some flack lately for “throwing my wife under the bus” in my writing. Well, I should be honest, Susan has been hearing it and has reported back to me. She claims that she isn’t bothered but I feel I should set the record straight. I vowed that I would do two things when I began writing. I will always be honest and I will always read my writing to Susan before it is published. It is an unfair advantage that everything comes from my perspective and truthfully I need her perspective in pretty much every aspect of my life, or at least I want it. I also think it is important for my voice to be true to my life and not sugar coated with what I think people want to hear or what might make me or her look good. Let’s face it, relationships are hard, marriages even harder and marriages with kids, nearly impossible at times. It is not easy making the shift from a young doting couple with very little responsibility to parents, homeowners, and heads of household. We actually had a friend tell us last night that we should publicize our troubles more often because people can relate. So yes, I write from MY perspective, it may be selfish, at times could be angry, misunderstood, unloved, unheard, lost, confused but it represents all of my very honest stages of parenting with Susan. I’m sure some can relate and others probably agree with her. That’s the point. We all play very different roles in our relationships.
I have been pretty honest throughout time about going to therapy, the struggles we face, the fact that I miss the days of missing her. We have had moments in our relationship when we didn’t think we could make it, we came close to calling it quits and yet here we are still holding on. In our wedding ceremony, far before it was legal, 10 years ago, we made 80 guests vow that they too would help support our marriage. I crave hearing honesty from other parents. In the first year of parenting I got to a point when I couldn’t live in a bubble and pretend I wasn’t sad and sometimes lonely in my marriage. When I would talk to friends about their challenges I realized it wasn’t just us. Having those honest people in my life have helped me get through the tough times. I want to be that candid voice. So, sometimes I’m honest at my wife’s expense but always with her approval.
But in hearing this criticism I realized that it is far too easy to focus on what she does wrong and not what she does right. It is a life lesson really. How often do I stop and thank her for allowing me to throw a fit about the missing school ID sign only to have her find it in my car. I don’t stop to thank her for taking me out every Wednesday night without fail until midnight , and then turning around and waking up at 4am for work the next day, without complaint because she knows that I need those nights for sanity. She is the calm beneath my tornado.
She is my best friend. She makes me laugh and on some nights I remember why I fell in love as I watch her shuffle from side to side, hands in pockets, head down, kicking rocks. But if I’m being honest and not sugar coating, I hold back, I don’t tell her that I find her incredibly sexy, that she makes me laugh more than anyone, that she is and always will be my best friend. I don’t know why I stop myself, is there too much water under the bridge? Do I feel like I will lose control and become vulnerable again? Having kids, changed me, made me stronger, tougher and the very thing she loved most about me, my need to be taken care of, to lean into her, to be small in her arms, disappeared and I became a Mama Bear! With it she lost her baby, the one that needs her, shows her her value with doting eyes and an open heart. I’m working on allowing my heart to be exposed again, to say exactly what’s on my mind, to never hold back, to see her as my wife and not the other mother of my children. It’s a delicate dance, a 15-year-relationship, one that could end at any second, because let’s be honest, they all can.
Erin and I had our engagement photography session last weekend. We decided, for part of it, to bring our kids and make it a family session too. We are still waiting for all the pictures but our photographer, Beth, sent us a few teasers. I will share more with you later, but for now, here’s one that we added a special message to.
TNF: Tell me about your family.
Jaime: Arianna and myself were married on November 27th of this year. I have a son with my ex-partner which whom I share joint custody with. Jaidin is 2 ½ and was born with down syndrome. She was the birth mother but I have legally adopted him and I am on his birth certificate. Arianna has taken over the role as stepparent but she doesn’t look at him as her stepchild; they love each other the same.
TNF: How did you meet your Arianna?
Jaime: Not many people know this, but we actually met on Instagram. It happened by accident really. Neither one was out looking for the other, we just happened to fall into the lives of each other. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and I couldn’t be more thankful for social media lol.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families?
Jaime: No, we don’t feel different from other families. We aren’t different. We share the same love and bond as any family does. We face discrimination at times but we try not to let it bother us. We get the usual stares but we have become used to it. We figure people are just curious about our family; we are two lesbians with tattoos, raising a child, and the child has down syndrome. That intrigues people; it is not something that you see on a daily basis.
TNF: Where do you live? Is it tough being a gay couple where you live?
Jaime: We live in Chester, Maryland; we are on an Island surrounded by water and super nice people. We thought that moving to a small island, kind of in the middle of nowhere, that we would have issues but everyone has been so nice and accepting.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Jaime: It feels amazing having a family, having something to work harder for, to fight for. We are so happy with our family and cannot wait to add more little ones.
TNF: Have the current changes in marriage laws had any affect on you?
Jaime: The laws have had a positive impact on us because we are now allowed to be married in Maryland. We can live the same way a straight married couple will live. Not to mention, that it makes having kids a lot easier!
Thank you Jaime and Arianna for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your recent marriage!
By: Rob Watson
There have been times of war when conventional forces were not enough. Situations were too complicated and too tenuous in a fragile balance. It was in these moments, that a special force was sent in to perform functions that emphasized cultural, and training skills in working with foreign environments, hostage rescue, combat search and rescue (CSAR), security assistance, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian de-mining, counter-proliferation, and psychological operations. This force was the Green Berets.
In February of 1979 violence in New York Subways was at a point of anarchy. Curtis Sliwa founded an organization called The Guardian Angels, made up completely of volunteers. They were unarmed and patrolled in a group to stop crimes in the subways. They trained themselves to make citizens arrests for violent crimes. Today, they patrol as well as conduct education programs and workshops for schools and businesses These protectors are identified by red jackets, white t shirts and …. Red Berets.
We now have a situation where the assistance of a set of protectors is desperately needed. We are just a little over a month into the new school year, and we already have over a dozen deaths in schools due to bullying. Last week, the word “faggot” was twittered over 217, 000 times (according to nohomophobes website, 2.5 million times since July).
Last September, two 13-year olds , Trae Schumaker and Cade Poulos, ended their lives. Both suicides were the response to bullying.
In the case of Cade, school officials rushed to state that bullying was not involved and local media went so far as to suggest that Batman was the culprit. Family and friends have stated bluntly, however, the cause was bullying.
I ache for the families and friends of these boys. I also ache for the families and friends of the children in the coming weeks who will do the same thing that these boys did. And they will if we do not prevent it from happening. I look at my sons and imagine the horror if something like this happened to us. The idea hurts me so deeply, I cannot even express it. It hurts me so much that I am willing to take an idea and throw it out into the world.
We cannot look to school administrators to solve this. Administrations appear to be addressing bullying as a matter of clerical record, and not seeking to identify individuals in pain, or to focus on environments that inspire it. They may never be able to in fact.
All of us who care must understand what is happening. In the book “Hold On to Your Kids”, Gordon Neufeld PhD and Gabor Mate, MD describe the relationship between a parent and their young child, “The attachment brain assigns the child to a dependent mode while the adult takes a dominant role.”
Once the child grows towards adolescence and is in a peer driven environment, those attachments transfer. Neufeld and Mate write, “When the subjects are children and children, the outcome can become disastrous. Some children seek dominance without assuming any responsibility for those who submit to them, while other children become submissive to those who cannot nurture them… Children (or adults) become bullies when striving for dominance is not coupled with the instinctual sense of responsibility for those lower on the pecking order. The needs of others are demeaned rather than served, vulnerability is not safeguarded but exploited, weakness evokes mocking instead of helping and in place of concern, handicaps trigger ridicule.” When this dysfunctional dependence situation is placed in a world that supports homophobia, misogyny and values around athletic prowess and trendiness, the bully is now armed and dangerous.
We need to realize that there has to be another level of defense beyond the school administrations which clearly can’t or won’t do enough. We need to affect the young person’s pathology where the victims are looking to peers for validation, where the peers are not equipped to provide it, and bullies feel empowered by exploiting it.
So. Here is my proposal. I am calling for the formation of the “Rainbow Berets”, concerned peer groups to stand up to the issues that inspire bullying. Groups that are visible in their schools to be safe confidants of those being bullied, and to help educate those whose actions are bullying. These groups would advocate for peers to seek to nurture each other and change the paradigm.
My son, Jesse, seeks out older kids who he sees as “cool”. “Cool” often translates as aloof, “bad ass”, untouchable. The mantra for the Rainbow Beret has to be “Cruel does NOT equal Cool.”
Cruel does NOT equal Cool.
If you are reading this, care about the bullying issue and are a parent, a teacher, a school administrator or a school student, then this is your moment for action. I am asking you to take this up and make this a reality, otherwise your caring will turn to sorrow as yet another child kills him or herself in your community. I am begging you to get active. Here is how:
1. Like the Rainbow Beret Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rainbow-Berets.
2. Post your brief bio, and tell the world why you care. Then share that post with all others in your school or community who you think will join your efforts. Encourage them to also like the Face book page and to state their intent to join in the comment section of your post.
3. Meet with your group, get educated on bullying, and identify a “uniform” that will identify you as peer helpers. Rainbow berets are just suggestions. You can literally make and don them, or come up with another kind of badge.
4. Meet with your school administrators and get their permission, as well as let them know of your intent.
5. With their help, promote the existence of your group around your school. Find ways that people can approach you confidentially and let you know their feelings and problems.
Under NO circumstances should your group retaliate or commit any aggression towards identified bullies. At most, you would approach an alleged bully and inform them that their actions are causing harm. Do this as a team, not an individual. Find out the motivation behind the bullying action and try to help. Often the “bully” is also a victim themselves in another situation.
6. If the alleged bully is unwavering and boastful over their aggressions, do not threaten or coerce them. DO report the situation however. One of the biggest issues bullied kids have is being in a “he said/he said” situation that administrations can’t take action on. If your team can unearth the truth and report it, your witness to admissions of intent will give the administration something they can work with.
7. Help match those feeling bullied with nurturing people. Ultimately, they need to feel self-empowered, but in the meantime, they need peers who will help build up their self esteem, not tear it down.
8. Post your experiences on the Rainbow Beret Facebook page. Post helpful materials and resources. Post about what worked and positive resolutions. This will inspire other Rainbow Berets in other schools, other cities, other states and even…other countries.
9. Appreciate yourself as a hero. If you do this, if you take action, you will see people around you feel better about themselves. Other Rainbow Berets in your group will realize the benefits of finding out what they can accomplish through caring about others, and those who have been bullied will find ways to cope. What you need to know is that without your efforts, some of these people would have taken tragic actions, and though you will not know this for sure, you actually saved lives.
Will this work? That is really up to you. This will work if the people who care take action. It will not work if well intentioned people allow apathy or fear to disable them.
So… please step up, and at the very least, share this. Sometimes with the help of a friend, we can change our whole perspective of the world we live in. And that is the point.
As a parent myself, I am going to walk the talk. I am taking this plan to the principal of my son’s school and will ask him to present it to the Parent’s Association. I hope you do something similar. Please.
I’m thankful for Alen, who over the last ten years has been referred to first as my boyfriend, then lover, partner, domestic partner, better half, and now, thanks to the judicial system, my spouse. Soul mate, man, mate, and partner-in-crime also come to mind, although we have never broken any laws together (well maybe if we were in a state in the deep South.) Alen has the patience of a saint, the brain of an Einstein, and the body of a supermodel, but best of all he is incredibly loving and kind to me. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving (or any other holiday for that matter) without him.
I’m thankful for my three sons, and not the television show, but the reality that is my life. Now ages 6, 5 and 1 (yes, my life is a math equation), Devin, Dylan & Dustin amaze us in every way possible, every hour of every day. Watching them grow up in front of our eyes to become awesome individuals has been and will continue to be one of the greatest joys of my life. I wish that I can see them and be with them for their entire long lives; alas, the math just doesn’t work out in my favor. That’s why I will live each day to the fullest and enjoy every moment.
I’m thankful for my health and fitness. Yes, at nearly 52 years of age, things don’t work as well as they used to. But I do have my memories. I can remember catching the winning touchdown in Pop Warner. I can remember winning my first triathlon and my first 10K, and any that came after that. I can dream about my solo bicycle ride across the US (5500 miles), my swim race around the island of Key West (12 ½ miles), and my first Hawaii Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). I’m not in that kind of shape right now, be it because of lack of desire, lack of time, or lack of sleep, but I’m so thankful that I had the chance to compete at that level and enjoy every bit of that lifestyle. I’m hoping to get back into it some day, but if not, I’m still happy to say remember when.
The rest are miscellaneous thanks that end up allowing me to live a truly blessed life. I’m thankful for my friends, who make me laugh or give me a supportive pat on the back. I’m thankful for manicures, massages, and movies. I’m thankful for the roof over my head and the American soil beneath my feet. I’m thankful that my boys want to cuddle with me and that my parents want to speak to me. I’m thankful for the drivers that let me on the road during traffic, and for the baristas that truly want me to have a great day. And I’m thankful to those that read this blog weekly or when they can, and to those who take a second to send me a comment or note.
Thanks to all. And Happy Thanksgiving!
Over the last five years, my husband and I have gone to almost 250 movies. Every week, thanks to our good – I mean great – friend and surrogate to our two youngest sons, we have enjoyed a date night. We’ve stuck with Saturday night for almost all of them, although in the last two months or so we have been giving Friday night a trial run with moderate to good success.
Some might say we are stuck in a rut, but we don’t see it that way. We still enjoy our standing date, which starts with a meal of some kind. Lots of time we go to a street in Los Angeles that has a wonderful cluster of Asian delights, and we chow down on sushi or Pho food. Or we hit a local Thai place. And occasionally we will do the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that’s located in the same mall as our usual movie pick. The buffet is quantity over quality, so we have to be extra hungry to hit that one.
Next we get a massage. Once a month we will make our Burke Williams appointment (we are members) for the royal treatment. Sad to say, but this is most often our least favorite massage. We just never really found this place worth the expense. Our favorite is a place directly across the street from the movie theater. It’s an open room with a dozen massage tables and about two dozen massage “therapists” who are roaming the vicinity, ready to work at the sound of the voice of a nice woman who is always at the front desk. She seems like the Queen Bee of the place, and they listen to and obey her every word, or at least we think they do. No one in the joint speaks any English.
The massage starts in the sitting position, with your feet soaking in some seriously searing water. They pay special attention to your upper back, neck, and shoulders. Next you switch to the face-up position while they dry off your feet and rub them thoroughly, including all the spaces between all your toes. They work their way up your legs (as best they can since you are completely dressed in date night clothes), and then proceed to stretch your hips and back. Finally you’re face down, at which point they’ll start at the top and work down to your feet, pushing and probing and squeezing as they go. It always ends with some drumming and slapping on your person. Not exactly a happy ending.
Every “therapist” does the same routine, as if the same master has taught him or her. There’s no privacy, the soft music is mediocre at best, and it’s difficult to communicate with these people, but somehow it works for us. We have, over time, found the “therapists” we like the best and we ask for them by name. We are able to call ahead and reserve a time (they have no reservation system to speak of – we noticed our massage times written on a napkin by the phone at the front desk once when we arrived) and everyone is very friendly, although I wish they would eat less garlic and smoke fewer cigarettes between massages. When it’s over we are happy to hand over our $25 each for an hour of a happy relaxing time, plus tip.
After being fed and feeling calm, it’s time for the movie. We always get a large popcorn and large Diet Coke to share. We always sprinkle on some Nacho Cheese seasoning that’s available, and we always use the bathroom just before heading in to the reserved stadium seating. We will always use the bathroom on the way out of the theater (due to the large Diet Coke), at which time I will stand in a stall and always check in to Facebook and give my one sentence review of that week’s movie. My man will always be waiting outside the bathroom for me to finish posting, and upon my departure from the bathroom will always ask, “So what did you think”? Always. We will always buy some ice cream on the way home, and we will always always enjoy the rest of the night.
This is our time to reconnect, get romantic, and be alone, without our beautiful boys. I love returning home late at night and peeking in on the boys, marveling at just how beautiful they look as they lay there sleeping. I’ll usually cover them in their blankets (do all kids toss off their blankets at night?), kiss them good night, and thank my lucky stars that I have date night every week. With a special guy, that is.
By Rob Watson
The day did not start off well. My schedule in the morning must work like clockwork. Two boys, ten and eleven years old, must be showered, dressed, breakfasted, lunches packed, and out the door. At the same time, I need to be showered, dressed (breakfasted—yeah, right), lunch packed, house closed down, and out the door. Some days, it works like a well-oiled machine.
Some days . . . not. That day, it did not. That morning, it was my older son, Jason’s, hypersensitivity and hypoglycemia. His blood sugar had dropped, which made him irrationally emotional, and the only resolve was for him to eat—but because he was upset, he did not want to eat. While tears erupted, I had to manage my own emotions and frustrations over trying to get him to eat in order to ease the emotions that prevented him from eating. Finally, he relented and took in the cereal bars, the food hit his system, and his normally sweet demeanor began to reemerge.
It is events like these that make life with my sons not “typical.” If I ever start to harbor any thoughts of ill will about that, I have to reflect on what they have already been through and conquered in their young lives. Both my sons were adopted as babies through foster care. They each faced things at very young ages that I could not imagine. My older kicked the heroin running through his body at birth in a few weeks. My younger, also drug exposed at birth, was terrorized and abused by an aggressive birth parent. Today they are both well-adjusted, happy boys, but special needs and challenges still arise.
A few hours later, I was at work. One of my tasks for the day was to write an internal memo about a project on which my boss and a few others in my company had been working. They had raised $6000 towards a $7500 goal to “adopt a wish” for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The $7500 would go to a single child’s wish.
As I wrote, I told the stories of several children, all between the ages of four and nine, who had wishes granted. Like my sons, they had gone through things that most adults would find devastating. Their dreams were not cheap, but then that was understandable. None of us dreams to be under a budget, and these kids were certainly going to be oblivious to “what things cost.” It was not the point of the program to make them understand that. The point of the program was to give them the overwhelming experience of a miracle so that they could then expect a similar miracle in fighting the life-threatening challenge that they share with the others in the program.
As I put the finishing touches to the corporate memo, one of my co-workers emailed me a link to something unfolding an hour away in San Francisco. The BatKid had come to town, and the entire city and its surroundings had fallen in love with him.
For good reason. Like my sons, five-year-old Miles Scott had already fought an adult-size battle early in his young life. When he was eighteen months old, he came down with leukemia. Miles did not focus on the battle behind him, however; he dreamed instead to be . . . Batman. “He is my favorite super hero,” Miles explained simply. Nuanced motivations are not required when one is five.
His folks took him to San Francisco, on the pretense of getting him a Batman outfit. Yeah. And a whole lot more. It seems that almost everyone in the city was in on the transformation into a little boy’s dream world that day. He donned the outfit all right, but then he went from adventure to adventure: The chief of police called on him to save a damsel in distress, he witnessed a flash mob in his honor, and he brought down the bank-robbing Riddler. Even the president of the United States chimed in with a “Way to go, Miles!”
News of Miles’s adventures filled Facebook, Twitter, and the media. It was easy casting; the part called for a metropolitan city to sit in complete and total awe as a masked superhero saved its day. We in the area grabbed our role and went for it with gusto.
As is the case in many superhero sagas, however, there is always a drag-along naysayer. The proverbial spoil sport. Eric Mar (even the name seems to be out of central casting—Supervisor Mar, the guy who had to mar the fun) tweeted his form of bah humbug, “Waiting for Miles the BatKid & Wondering how many 1000s of SF kids living off SNAP/FoodStamps could have been fed from the $$.”
I do understand Supervisor Mar’s concern (albeit it poorly timed). There are many kids in need, and $7500 is a lot of money. In BatKid’s case, probably much more was spent, although city revenues certainly increased as well. Opportunity costs are not linear, however. There is no denying that big gifts do carry powerful significance. Miles’s mom, Natalie, stated, “This wish has meant closure for our family and an end to over three years of putting toxic drugs in our son’s body. This wish has become kind of a family reunion and is our celebration of his treatment completion.”
Those who donated to the funds that brought us BatKid were not likely to be sending the money to food stamp kids instead. In my workplace in our make-a-wish efforts, we vie for Airline, Cher, Eagles, or San Jose Shark tickets in a raffle. Others may forgo an extra lunch or a luxury item in order to give. It is also not to say that big prizes are routinely given in our society to those in need. All one has to do is turn on the TV to see cooks, sports enthusiasts, and no-discernible-talent people vying for big cash prizes. So the conundrum of one $7500 event versus one hundred $75 gifts is not a real one.
It is also not the point. The point of BatKid was so much bigger than one Miles Scott, as adorable and deserving as he is. It was an act of many people coming together to make a dream come true. It was an act of healing and vision, to give a child that which he or she hoped for, and to demonstrate that hope is worth having.
It is to show that we collectively can take a dream that should be all but impossible, and make it possible. Twelve thousand volunteers pulled the event together, and tens of thousands more participated. It is rare, but not unheard of, for a community of people to come together with such a singularity of vision.
The fact that this was done for one single child is irrelevant. Similarly, when I tell the stories of my sons and their gay dad, it is not because I want people to care about only us. The point is we are representative of many like us who need that care. Some look at the adoption of babies born to drug addicts as their own lifetime “make a wishes.” LGBT parents adopting them into safe homes, to lives of care and protection, make their newborn dreams come true. It is saving one child at a time.
The profound effect is also that of making strangers care about one another. When strangers care once, they then know how to care again, and again and again. Caring once allows us now to imagine how we can continue and help more children, and maybe more adults. It is the contagion of ideas and willingness to help, aid, and love.
Usually it takes a mass shooting, a terrorist event, or something horrible to create this mindset. This was not a dire situation. We were not desperate to collectively get over a shock.
On the contrary, it was an effort of hope, love, charity, and the imagination for something wonderful. We collectively looked at an impossible dream and made it a reality.
For Miles, it was a great day. For those of us in its midst it was a necessity. We needed to know it could happen. We needed to know that the possibility of making it and other impossible dreams happen is within our grasp. It was a journey that rescued us from cynicism and took us into a community of hope.
Holy paradoxes, Batman. We thought we were doing something great for this little kid, and he may have been the one who rescued us, after all.
By Carol Rood
When I decided to become a mother it was no light decision for me. I had always said I didn’t want children, and to be honest, I meant it. I had many men come and go in my life, and never wanted to have children. Then the day finally came and I met a certain man and decided maybe being a mom wasn’t such a bad idea.
A few years later along came my “Joe Cool”. I was so excited, and scared all at the same time. I was also full of hormones and went through a short period of “postpartum blues”. It probably didn’t help matters that I transferred from San Diego to Pensacola Florida when Joe Cool was only 6 weeks old. That was a bit crazy. Trying to schedule a military move, and handle being a new mom was quite a doozy!! Not to mention I had a C-section and had to recover from that as well. But we managed, and life went on.
Then a couple of years later we were handed a surprise baby, “The Genius”. He was so different from Joe Cool. He was wiggly, and wouldn’t lay still, and full of energy. Energizer bunny baby for sure!
We definitely had our hands full. Their father was a stay at home dad and went to college in the evenings. I was in the Navy working a full time job, and taking care of the kids in the evening while hubby went to school. It was a busy time. I thought It was demanding. I thought it was difficult. Joe Cool is currently 16, and The Genus is 14. Looking back on those times when they were little and required so much attention, I now realize that those were the easy times of being a parent.
Now don’t get me wrong, those days had their challenges: Learning to poop and pee in the potty. Learning how to do things for themselves. Letting them “cry it out” at night as I sat outside their bedroom doors listening to them cry and call for me, and crying myself. But even with all of that, those years were wonderful years. My boys adored me. I reigned supreme as “The Mommy”. What I said went, and there was no arguing. Just a little time out could work wonders. I always knew where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. (Yes, I know I am a control freak.)
Now that they are teenagers things are so much more complicated. They have internet access, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They have phones (as long as they can pay their phone bill), with internet access. So I learned about Facbook and Instagram and Twitter etc, so I would understand their world. I put programs on the house computer to monitor screen shots and keystrokes, etc, so I could see what they were up too. I set parental controls on their phones so they can’t text during school, or after 10:00 when they should be in bed on school nights. All of it exhausting work.
Then I had to become a detective. Asking, “Who are you going to be with?” “What are you doing?” “Where are you going?” “When will you be home?” “Who is driving?” “Will there be adults present at this event?” “Will there be girls there also?” “Do you like any of them?” “Will there be adults present?” Around and around I go.
Then just to be even more sure I was getting the straight story I put a “Locator” service on our phone account where I can see where they are based on where their phone is. Anyone who has a teenager or young adult knows that they are NEVER very far from their phones!!
I was proud of myself, and thought I was on top of things. Boy, was I wrong. Because THEN I found out about Kik.
Kik is an app they can download onto their phones for free so they can text other people that have the app, and it doesn’t go through the phone account. So they can text all night long, and I would never see anything on the phone bill, and although I can “lock” their phones at a certain hour, I can’t make the data stop at a certain time, so they can still have access to the internet and their apps.
And THEN I found out about Snapchat. Snapchat is an app where they can send pictures, which can be viewed for just a few seconds, and then never viewed again. What a great way to send “taboo” photos that don’t stay in your gallery so your parent can see them if they scroll through your phone. So sexting via Snapchat has become the new rage. GREAT!! And of course as an adult I know that once something is on the internet it is there forever, but try convincing a teenager of that!
Luckily for me I love in a community where I know many of the parents of my kids friends. I have met them at swim meets, or soccer games, or school events. If I don;t know them personally I probably know someone who knows them. I call this group of parents my “mom posse”, and have used the posse many times over the years.
As a matter of fact I utilized it just the other night. Joe Cool was at work and Karol and I decided to go to the movies. Towards the end of the movie Joe Cool called me three times. I guess he forgot that you shouldn’t talk on your cell phone during a movie (note my sarcasm). When the movie was over I called him and asked what he needed. He said, “Hey, M. and A. want to go to the baseball field and watch the meteor shower tonight and they want me to go with them.”
Now even though Joe Cool is usually honest with me, I was like , “Sure, of course three teenaged boys want to go to a dark, empty field and watch a meteor shower…….right……” So I immediately texted both of the other boys’ moms to check if the meteor shower story was “legit”. I received a response form M’s mom that went something like this: “LOL, yes it is legit. I am on my way to pick up Joe Cool now.”
When they pulled up, I went outside and M’s mom and I had a good laugh about the “mom Posse” and how these teens won’t be able to get away with much of the stuff we did. The boys didn’t seem to think it was as amusing as we did. Oh well!!
I will say that it is a different world then when I grew up in the 80′s. There is more available for kids these days to lure them into trouble. Sure the drinking and experimentation is the same, but there seems to be more opportunities for those things to happen now than when I was a teenager.
So being a detective is as important as being a mom, and unfortunately for my boys, I will always be in their business and trying to keep up with what is going on in their lives. I am not their friend, I am their mom. I can be their friend later, when they have graduated college and they are living on their own. For now I need to parent them and keep guiding them in the way they need to go so they CAN get to college, graduate and be out there on their own living their lives!
By Jason Holling
Waiting can seem like an eternity. While we wait to be matched, Justin and I have decided to focus on getting the nursery setup and networking so others see our profile. While we expected ups and downs in the adoption journey, I do not think we were fully prepared for some of the emotional highs and lows. And while we do not want to stop this ride by any means, we know there are still more to come on this roller coaster.
In our adoption classes prior to our profile going live, the agency helped to prepare us for the ups and downs that would soon come and we started to be contacted. I remember watching a video in the class that took place at the birth of a baby and the ups and downs the birthmother went through as well as the adoptive parents in the waiting room. Justin grabbed my leg as I wiped away a tear thinking of the emotional struggles both sides were going through. The story ended well and the baby had a safe home.
Justin and I have had some leads since our profile went live. While these have not worked out, we know our birthmother is out there still. I remember hanging up the phone with Justin after the initial phone call in the middle of the night. We were both on an emotional high as we hung up and sat on the floor of the nursery next to the crib talking about how excited we were. Could this be real? Could we be daddies in just a few short weeks? Then looking around the nursery in a panic at all the things we would have to do still to get ready. But then the lows come when we realized later that week it was someone that made up a story of having a baby just to make someone else feel horrible. Luckily we have our agency to help figure out what is real and what is a scam. Justin and I joked that the silver lining is that we are no longer nervous when the 800 number for the adoption rings and a potential birthmother is on the other side of the line. And what that person did to us was build our confidence for the next call that we know will come any time now!
Another component that helps us with the wait is networking. Networking is a huge component of getting noticed and finding a birthmother that is looking for a safe and secure family to place her child with. And many times it may be a friend who has a friend that knows someone considering adoption. Since going live in May, Justin and I have focused on networking and getting our profile out for potential birthmothers to see and connect with us. We have been using Facebook as one of the tools to tell people about our journey which has been a great way to connect with families that have adopted, birthmothers that have already placed, and people that are supporting our journey. Facebook has been hands down the best method for connecting and interacting with people in the adoption process. The messages and posts of successful adoptions from others give us hope and encouragement! We have had so many people write us stories and offer help it has been overwhelming at times.
So while waiting is hard, we know the emotional roller coaster we are on will be worth the wait in the end. Everyone that writes us to encourage us on our journey, we write back and thank. We are truly grateful for having so many supportive and loving people in our lives. Each time our blog is read, profile viewed, or someone adds our page on Facebook it gives us hope that our family will grow soon.
We are an approved family with Independent Adoption Center. Visit our profile and Dear Birthmother Letter at http://www.jasonandjustin.com.