Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a noticeable absence

For those who have followed my facebook ramblings, our beloved family dog has been in the animal hospital. Initially, the vets thought that the dog had a bowel obstruction, possibly needing surgery. Unfortunately, Largo has a heart condition. Surgery for him is, in itself, life threatening. He has a very small chance of surviving even minor surgery. But, if he had an obstruction, it would kill him if he didn't have surgery. So, huge stress-inducing dilemma.

Because they didn't want to operate, they elected to do a risky test instead. This involved Largo drinking a huge quantity of barium, which they would then trace in x-ray every hour to follow the path of the barium through the digestive tract. The test should take 4 hours to complete. After 11 hours, the barium still wasn't completely through Largo's system.

But he wasn't obstructed and didn't need surgery. He has pancreatitis, and we should be able to manage it with meds and diet, once we are over this episode.

All of this detail is really preamble. What I discovered is how noticeable an absence we have in our home, with Largo at the vet. I derive incredible comfort from the sight of the dog sleeping on the floor next to our bed. I am more secure, and I feel more safe, with the dog in the house. I even miss his rather over-bearing company at dinner. I hate his begging and mugging for food -- but apparently I miss it when it's not there. I can sit all evening, reading undisturbed. And it doesn't feel right. I keep thinking I am forgetting something. I feel this distressing sense of things being out of kilter. I come home at night and there isn't a face pressed against the glass. No wagging tail. No head-butt of adoration as I come in. I cook dinner, and there is no one watching my every move with utter concentration.

There is a hole here that can only be filled by a dog. And not just any dog, OUR DOG.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the company of women

I hate to admit this, but for most of my life, I haven't had much use for other women. For years, my guy friends outnumbered my girl friends. I work in a male-dominated field, where being "one of the guys" is a career advantage. And I've never been much of a girly girl. I think, though that I have short-changed myself.

When I got married, I entered inot the community of wives. I had more in common with the other women in my world. We had a wealth of shared experiences that came out of being married women.

When I had my son, I entered into another community, the community of moms. I suddenly had more in common with the other women in my office, and in the neighborhood. I found connections where I hadn't seen any before.

Now, as I age, and expand my universe of contacts, I am finding joy in the company of women. The commonality of experiences strengthens me, and my relationships. The resilience and kindness and intelligence, the fortitude and strength of the women I have met have added immeasurably to my life. Their humor keeps me sane, and their help keeps me going.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

end of school year

We are done another school year. Our son finished up 9th grade today. He did well, although not nearly as well as he could. We won't get the grades for a few weeks, but he will likely get mostly Bs or all Bs. He could easily get As, doesn't even have to do better, just turn in all the homework. But he doesn't see the point, and doesn't get that it might matter at some point in the future. He reminds me so much of me at his age that it's maddening. I once told a teacher that I could do a ton of work and get an A, or not lift a finger and get a B, and that a B was fine with me. Yes, I was a pain in the ass, and a true joy to have as a student. SIGH.

Our son is politer, but really thinks school is a holding tank until you get released and can go on to what counts -- college. The idea that it's not the knowledge but the study skills and habits that he gets from doing the work that will help him get through college has not caught on with him yet.

I am proud of him, though, I really am. He did a ton of volunteer work this year, and took on a leadership role with Habitat for Humanity and with the Ronald McDonald House. He grudgingly participated on the track team, and did not let his lack of success get to him. He is participating in an honors group that discusses topical issues. So far, he is navigating the social waters of high school without too much fuss. He applied for a volunteer job at a day camp for the first part of the summer, and he got it. He went to CPR and first aid training and passed his tests.

Best of all, to me, is that he is becoming more and more of a person. Today he saw Sin City at school (no, not kidding). We talked about it. He said that it was a "great film, albeit dark", and might be one of Frank Miller's best works. OK, he had me at "albeit".

I can actually talk with him. And he can surpise me from time to time. That's the best thing to come out of this year, I think.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

where are the parents?

I have ranted on facebook, and now I will rant here. In the news yesterday, there was a piece on gangs of teenagers randomly attacking tourists at the Inner Harbor. There was also a piece about a 16 and 14 year old who were charged with beating another 14 year old to death.

In both pieces, the emphasis was on the police and how they should do more to prevent these kinds of crimes. And of how the schools should be more involved.

Where are the parents? Your children are not the police's problems. Your children are not the school's problem. They are everyone elses' problem because you are not doing your job. If you have children, you have a job until they are grown. Raise your kids! They don't have to be perfect, no one is. They just have to be law-abiding citizens. That's the bare minimum. If you can also provide them with education, life skills, and produce happy, well-adjusted adults, go for it. But honestly, we would all settle for moderately socialized, and law-abiding. We really would.

How did this get so out of hand? When I was a little kid, every adult raised you. Every single damn one. Step out of line in front of an adult, and someone would correct you. No question. And your mom and dad, they would not resent it. They would appreciate the help. Bring a note home from the teacher, and the question wouldn't be, what is that teacher thinking, criticizing my child? It would be, "what did you do?"

Maybe parenting should require a license. You know -- read the manual, pass a written test, maybe have to babysit and get graded on it. Whatever. Something so that every idiot with working reproductive parts can't just have a child. Because giving birth does not make you a parent. Nor is it the sum total of your parental responsibilities.

I don't think I am asking for too much. You have them, you raise them.