Friday, January 22, 2010

a welcome change

I went to a parent/teacher conference today at our son's school. Nothing wrong, just the normal annual conference. Each 10th grader got a half hour slot. I have been to many of these over the years, both the regularly scheduled kind, and the emergency "there's a problem" kind. For years, what I mostly heard was that our son was easily distracted, not focused, not motivated, inappropriate (current jargon for smartass), had huge disabilities/deficits.

So imagine how I felt today. The math teacher said our son is his best student. His social studies teacher raved about him, his passion for his subject, his intelligence. The science teacher likewise said he was doing a great job, was super bright, super gifted. His health teacher said he inspired discussion in the whole class, and was engaging and intelligent. He is doing A/A- work across the board. The head of the upper school thought he could fit in some college classes into his schedule for senior year, since he will have fulfilled his graduation requirements with room to spare.

They are talking about starting up an Amnesty International group, because of our son's interest. I mentioned his desire to be a lawyer, and they all nodded and thought it was a good fit. 5 years ago, no one would have thought it even within the realm of possibility for him. 5 years ago, his teachers were just hoping he'd graduate high school someday.

WOW. I have to say this is a welcome change.

Monday, January 18, 2010

tired of words

I am tired of words. Not language -- I will always love that, but words. I am tired of people who say what they think we want to hear, instead of what we should hear. I am tired of people who make their living saying hateful, evil things. I hate hearing language tortured and twisted so that people can avoid the responsibility for their own actions. Or so that they won't be sued.

Say what you mean, mean what you say. Is that so f*ng hard?? If you say you will do something, do it. If you say you won't, don't. A first grader knows this, how come our public figures do not? Words can hurt. A kindergartner knows this, so how come our pundits don't? Even tone can matter -- and my dog knows that.

Haiti did not deserve the earthquake, Obama did not "use" Haiti to give himself credibility with African Americans, the Ravens did not have a great season, voting for gay marriage is not one step away from legalizing sex with children, Pope Pius was not "misunderstood". Really.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

mankind is not the focus

In watching the pictures coming out of Haiti, I am more and more convinced of one central truth -- mankind is not the focus of the universe. The things that happen to us, around us, are not targeted at us. The people of Haiti did nothing to attract this disaster. No evil, no human act, could cause this level of devastation and suffering. This is not karma on a grand scale, and it is not the act of a vengeful god.

The universe does what it does. We can try to read meaning in it, try to see ourselves as the central figures in the drama, but it isn't about us. How we respond, how we live our lives in the face of a universe that is impersonal and complete, that is where we need to see our meaning, and our purpose.

We can matter to ourselves. We can matter to each other. And that's enough.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

for Ami

Last night, we chose to end Ami's suffering and ease her passing. We had a tear filled drive to the vet, during which Ami howled. Not because she knew what was coming, or because of her pain, but because she never could stand being in a moving car. Every time I stopped, so did she.

We took her to Falls Road vet. There, they put in a catheter so that the three needles could be administered with sticking her multiple times. They had me sign release forms, pay the bill in advance (so I wouldn't have to deal with it afterwards), and asked if I was sure, and if I wanted to stay for the procedure.

This is a hard thing, to be in the room, holding your pet while it dies. But I feel strongly that a pet should have someone they love with them, and not only strangers, no matter how caring. I told my son that he didn't have to stay, but he said he felt that since she was his cat, it was his responsibility. So he stayed.

They wrapped Ami in a blanket, and gave us a little time to say goodbye in private. We stroked her, talked with her, while I held her in my arms. We both cried, and we both laughed. Yes, laughed. We told each other Ami stories. The time she stole the muffin right out of my mouth, and I chased her around the table. The time our son put Ami in a pillow case, because the "cat's in the bag" and carried her around the house -- he was 4 so he wasn't being cruel, just little.

The vet came in, told us what would happen. And then very quietly and gently, Ami got 3 shots. And she died in our arms, slowly and gently, with lots of love around her.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

sometimes being the mom is hard

Sometimes, being the mom is hard. This is one of those times. I spent the morning at the vet, with our older cat Ami. About a month ago, her tail stopped functioning. At the time, the vet thought it was a tail pull. This morning, her back legs were all over the place, moving without control, unable to hold her up. It looks like whatever affected her tail has moved rapidly up her spine and is now affecting her legs. She is 11 years old. SO. We asked for a blood test, sort of like hail mary pass. Maybe it will turn up something unexpected and treatable, but it doesn't look good at this point.

Our son loves that cat. We got her when he was 4 years old, and he is now 15. She adores him as well. And this morning, he looked at me and said "well, she'll get better won't she?" and I had to say no, I didn't think so. I couldn't lie to him, and I couldn't build up his hopes. I feel terrible.

I feel bad for the cat, bad for the kid, and just sad in general. And I don't know if I did the right thing. Should I have just ducked the question and said we would have to wait and see? Should I have lied to make him feel better? I really don't know. I'm thinking that soon I will have to do something even harder, and put the cat to sleep. And somehow I will have to help our son say goodbye.

Monday, January 04, 2010

no resolutions, just aims

I have no resolutions this year. Instead, I have some aims in mind. To be more fit, more thrifty, more compassionate, more patient. Notice the form that takes -- I am not solving to get in shape, or to be thrifty, or compassionate, just that I will try to improve in those areas. Really, I think this is doable even in little bits, and even little bits of improvement will help me.

I walked a little bit today, first time since the accident. I walked very slowly, not my usual power walking pace. And I walked half the distance i usually do, but I did it. I will try 15 minutes of yoga tonight. No pressure. Just a little bit more than yesterday.

We started the painful process of reviewing and revising our budget. This is not, NOT, my strong suit. I like fun, and good food, and good times way way too much, and deferring pleasure way way too little. But we are making little changes that should help a bit.

And I am trying to be more patient with the family, to think about how the other person might be seeing things before I speak.

We'll see how it goes.