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beyond resisting

My sister Rachael recently texted me to gloat that Naomi Klein would be in Portland, Oregon to promote her new book. She didn’t type “neener-neener,” but she might as well have.

There’s no way she’s visiting Portland and not L.A.! I thought. I dropped everything and searched her publisher’s events page. Nada.

When I saw an announcement including an L.A. date, I messaged Rache again. “LOS ANGELES!!!” I said.

“I get to see her first,” Rache replied.

(Neener-neener.)

Who is Naomi Klein, exactly? Apart from being author of The Shock Doctrine, she’s an inspiration to both Rache and me.

Klein looks brutality squarely in the face, assesses it, and writes about it without losing either her passion or compassion. For a couple of decades now, she has looked into the abyss without becoming it.

She’s been a light along a very, very dark journey (of history and politics) I’ve been making for about a year. I’ve read her words and heard her podcasts and thought, “I hope I can emulate her someday. I hope I, too, can choose to look upon the darkness and see within it the possibility of greater love.”

My sister listened to Klein speak in Portland on Monday. I listened, alternately tearful and laughing, in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

nine two

Far from resenting my sister for hearing Klein first, I was grateful to listen and know Rache had heard the same heart, the same compassion, the same entreaty.  Read more…

perspectiving

Earlier today, I glanced down and saw an awful, judgment-filled word scrawled in my older son’s handwriting.

Hold on now, I thought. When would he have even heard that word, and how would I have missed it in two years of having this same piece of paper behind my desk?!

Having written so recently about perspective(s), I smiled when I uncovered the rest of the paper to find the answer a split-second later. 

I’d seen the marks as they were, sure, but … I’d interpreted them upside-down, leading (briefly) to a very different, very wrong reading.

What a difference perspective–and context!–can make.

No pictures required

Out behind their grandmas’ house, my two little boys rocked back and forth on a two-person swing. I smiled as I walked nearer; they’re really growing into friends.

“Don’t take a picture!” commanded my seven-year-old, Li’l D.

“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “I’m trying to take more pictures with my heart these days.”

“That’s good,” Li’l D replied. “Sometimes kids just want their privacy.”

“I hear you,” I said. I do. From now on, I’ll only post about Li’l D with his permission, save perhaps in rare cases where his part in a vignette is peripheral.

Minutes later, I climbed into my car for a rare date with my husband. As I did, my mind was on those two boys swinging in the backyard.

Little by little, they’re getting bigger. Sometimes it aches to see how quickly they’re growing. Times like yesterday, though, my heart simply swells that I get to see them grow into their vocabularies, opinions, and friendship … no pictures required.

Categories: Family, Parenting Tags: , , , ,

Hair, just a fraction

“Mama?” my seven-year-old, Li’l D, spoke.

“Yep?”

“My friend [M] said that the difference between my hair and [my little brother, Littler J’s] is that his is way bigger because it hasn’t been cut for a while.”

“That’s one difference,” I said. “Another is that his hair is fine, while your hair is …” I searched for the right word, understanding many words that seem neutral in the dictionary are charged in living color.

“Your hair is thick,” I concluded.

“Which is better?” Li’l D asked plaintively.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said, ruffling his thicker curls. “Neither is better. When I was little, my only friend who wasn’t my sibling–Topaz–had curly hair. I was so jealous of her curly hair. Then again, she wished she had my straight hair.”

Li’l D looked at his brother’s hair and half-smiled. “Oh.”

I don’t know if he believes me now. I don’t know if he’ll believe me later. I only know that (1) pre-pregnancy me of eight years ago wouldn’t have understood “dog whistles,” or the ways politicians invoke race without ever explicitly mentioning it, and (2) I believe it through-and-through. His curls are lovely. His brother’s curls are lovely.

One brother’s curls are fine. Another brother’s curls are coarse.

Both brothers are beautiful; either’s hair, only a fraction of that.

 

That green apple

Saturday, 11:45 a.m.

As we inched toward Hollywood in traffic, I asked my husband, “Do you have a snack in your car? I need to eat something.” He knows my blood sugar’s been giving me grief recently.

“Don’t you have that apple?” he asked.

“You’re right!” I smiled as I reached into my purse for that green apple.

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.

My husband and I were on our way to our first date in months. We’d almost made it out the door when our seven-year-old,  Li’l D, asked me, “Aren’t you going to take the apple with you?” He’d set a green apple in front of me a few minutes earlier.

“I don’t need an apple, sweetie,” I said. “But thank you!”

He looked so crestfallen, I put the apple in my purse. For show.

Saturday, 7 p.m.

My littlest one, Littler J, babbled with overtired zeal as we loaded him into our car. Li’l D was quieter in his sleepiness as he climbed into his car seat.

“Hey. You know what?” I told him. “I ended up needing that apple!”

“Told you!” he cheered. To himself, he murmured, “I helped.” His chest puffed out for a moment, leading my heart to swell in return.

“You sure did,” I said, smiling. “You sure did.”

Categories: Family, Love, Parenting Tags: ,

“I’m obnoxious.”

My little boys love racing each other down a ramp near our house. Yesterday, much to my two-year-old’s chagrin, my seven-year-old, Li’l D, only wanted to run down twice.

“Could you please run down one more time with him?” I asked D. D, seizing the opportunity, said he’d run down it one more time … if I said I was obnoxious.

I weighed his proposal for a moment before mumbling, “I’m obnoxious.”

“What? I couldn’t hear you,” he teased.

“I’m obnoxious!” I said, much louder.

He grinned before racing down the ramp with Littler J. 

“Again?!” D asked. 

“I’m obnoxious,” I replied. 

Both my boys laughed as they raced down the ramp one more time, and I? I laughed, too.

My happy scarers

My two-year-old hides behind his hands, then throws his arms out wide while shouting, “Boo!”

I shriek as if startled, which makes him scream in delight before devolving into giggle-fits.

We repeat this over and over. Sometimes, we’ll do it a hundred times in one sitting.

My seven-year-old recently asked, exasperated, why I pretend to be afraid.

I replied, already wistful, “Your brother will understand soon enough that he’s not actually scaring me. So while he still believes it, I’ll keep on shrieking. I’ll keep on cherishing the sweet sound of him laughing, knowing he’ll soon enough be on to other joys.”

“Oh. Will you scream if I do it, too?”

“Sure, if your brother’s around.”

So he tried, too, and I shouted in mock horror.

Now, for at least a little while, both my little boys take turns scaring me, and I’m happy.

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