The Chili family is hoisting figurative sail for Washington DC this morning. The maps are printed, the car is packed, and everyone has gone to pee. Away we go!
Nearly every Sunday, there’s a PostSecret that resonates with me. This week, it was this one:
It was followed by this message, which is exactly what I would have said:
With the injustices and corruption in this world, perhaps law school is exactly where we need heroes.
We need more heroes. We need them in schools and in law offices and in city halls. I’m convinced that a lot of us have heroes’ hearts, we’re just afraid to use them. I want to stop being afraid.
Today is a good news / bad news kind of day.
Today is, by my reckoning (since we didn’t write it down), Toeses’ 22nd birthday.
Today is also the day that we decided that we’re going to have to give him back to the Universe sometime very soon, as in maybe tonight or tomorrow.
When I got up this morning, Poor Baby was lying on the bathroom floor next to the water dish (which is, as most cat parents can attest, a universally bad sign). As I was getting ready for my shower, he struggled to his feet (which was painful to watch), managed to hobble into the corner between the tub and the wall and proceeded to pee. I didn’t stop him; the box is all the way downstairs, and I’d rather he peed on the linoleum than the carpet (or hurt himself trying to get back down the stairs). As I was cleaning it up, he struggled back to the water dish and took an excruciatingly long time to lie back down.
I carried him downstairs to his favorite spot under the windows in the family room, and that’s where he was when I returned home from work this afternoon. He can barely stand on his own and just gives the impression of being done.
We’re going to be leaving for DC on Monday, and I can’t bear the thought of Sweet Pea, who’s agreed check on Toeses while we’re gone, having to deal with his passing. He’s to the point now where he shouldn’t be alone for more than a couple of hours, and it’s not fair to ask Sweet Pea to give hospice care. We’ll make him comfortable tonight (he’s got sleeping pills that I can give him) and make arrangements with the vet tomorrow.
I hate this part.
So, the other day, Bean and I decided to take advantage of the first really nice day since October to go for a walk. She was on her way to a three-day field trip the next morning and needed some supplies to contribute to the community meals, so we grabbed the backpack and headed for the grocery store.
On our way there, we talked about a lot of things. We talked about school (natch; hers and mine), we talked about how excited she was to take this trip (which, I’m thrilled to say, was just about everything she hoped it would be), and we talked about some of her concerns about the privacy she feels she needs but doesn’t get on account of the open-door policy at Chez Chili and the fact that she shares a room with her often overbearing sister.
That was all on the way to the store.
After our shopping was done, we made back for home. Before we even got out of the parking lot, Bean told me that she thought I was a great mom, and that she had no idea what she would do without the relationship that we share.
Allow me to pause for a moment to say that the was, for all intents and purposes, out of the blue. We weren’t being particularly mushy or sentimental; nothing had happened on the way to or in the store that would have prompted that from my younger child.
Once I caught my breath again, I thanked her for the reassurance. Bean knows that I come from a very broken family and that being a good mom and making sure that none of the hell that has plagued my family for generations is passed through me into the future is my primary focus in life. Truly; there is literally nothing more important to me than doing this mommy thing right. Curious, though, I asked her what prompted that spontaneous bit of love, and she replied that, of all of her friends, she is only one of two or three girls who have strong, stable, and healthy relationships with their moms, “and even they don’t have a relationship like ours,” she said.
I told you that story to tell you this one. My younger daughter is queer. This is not a thing in our family; she is what she is and we love her just the same. That sort of matter-of-fact acceptance (not ‘tolerance,’ mind you, but total and unquestioning acceptance) is something that her friends apparently do not enjoy.
One of her friends in particular is having a hard time with her parents. This friend is questioning her gender identity, and her parents aren’t engaging with her process at all. Bean has told me that this friend has said her parents have insisted that she abandon this “nonsense” immediately, that there is no such thing as “questioning” one’s gender, and has forbidden all talk on the subject in any context, both within and without their hearing. Bean had put me on notice last summer that this girl may need to seek safe haven now and again in our home, and she mentioned on our walk the other day that we may need to up our proverbial alert level to orange.
I struggle mightily with the idea that a parent can deny their own child the support that they need for something that is so primary to that child’s very identity. I mean, I get that gender and sexuality issues are often difficult for people to comprehend, but is it not the loving and right thing to do to figure out how to work through your own issues as a parent so that you can be there to give your child the foundation and support they need as they figure out who they really are? I mean, isn’t that your job as a parent?
I fear that this kid is going to end up completely rejected by her family of origin – I’ve met and had exchanges with her parents, and I wouldn’t put that kind of behavior past either one of them - and while I can – and will – provide a safe and welcoming place for her to land when and if that happens, I know that, no matter how much love and acceptance I can layer over her, I can never undo the damage that her parents’ rejection of her very personhood will cause.
I decide to step away, and I kind of fall off a cliff, huh?
There really hasn’t been much to report lately , but here are the highlights:
• I’m eyebrow deep in research for my independent study thesis (I’m planning an independent, democratic high school with a mission focused on meaningful academic rigor, citizenship, and social justice) and in grading (really, REALLY bad) analysis papers from my students.
• The weather broke (at least, for the moment). It’s been above 60° for the last few days, and tomorrow’s supposed to hit 70°, but it’s going back into the 50′s for the later part of next week.
• The Chilis are planning a trip to DC in two weeks. I was really, really hoping to get to Florida so we could try to see Gerry again, but that fell through (the time when Mr. Chili should have been planning the trip coincided with the time we were planning and celebrating Father Chili’s memorial service). I’m hoping to plan at least an hour or two to spend with Gerry this summer; I miss him too much.
That’s about it. Research and grading, trying to emerge from the fog and funk of winter, and planning a trip. What have YOU been up to?