Archive for February, 2009

The things we never let him do

February 27, 2009

Several years ago we made a rule that our family wouldn’t have toy guns, toy knives, toy light sabers, and the like in our house. It was a naïve attempt to keep violence out of play in the lives of our children. At the time we were unaware that children can make a weapon out of anything. I’ve seen my children make a gun out of their hand, out of legos, out of a lotion bottle, out of a toothbrush, out of a magnetic letter “L”. I have even seen one of them hold up his penis in a threatening – this will shoot you if you disobey me – fashion. But the boys’ grandparents own gun – actual guns – and we wanted them to always know that guns are a tool not a toy – so our very ineffective policy has continued. Until this week.

This week I bought my son a toy gun.

It’s worse than that. I bought it at Wal M*rt.

Riley is in a ballet folklorico group and he has a performance tomorrow. In fact, he has a solo part in his performance. He’s sort of the main character in this dance that tells the story. I’m getting my notes from a 7 year old, but from what I can deduct, it seems that he is the raton vaquero. I’m certainly not a Spanish expert but it seems that my son landed the part of a cowboy mouse. This mouse is different from the other mice and for that reason he seems to be unfairly jailed. He needs black jeans – everybody else has to wear slacks. He gets a hat. And he gets a gun. I’m not sure what an innocent cowboy mouse needs with a gun – perhaps he’s a hunter. Riley isn’t sure himself. He just knows that he needs a Gun. An honest to goodness TOY GUN.

What’s a mom to do?

Apparently a mom is supposed to run all over the valley looking for a particular toy gun. An orange and silver pistol cap gun. I figured this would be an easy task. I see children with toy guns all the time. Target didn’t deliver. Neither did Toys R Us. Finally, he had to go to the dreaded Wally World. I suppose if a person has to buy something as atrocious as a toy gun, one might as well buy it at world-domination Mart. Somehow it is fitting. Of course, Wal M*rt had the exact toy we needed.

After we made the purchase and were heading home Riley asked what would happen to the toy after he danced with it on Saturday. We told him that we’d donate it to the dance troupe so if they ever did that dance again, they’d have props.

Riley’s response, “Ahh man. You never let me shoot things for fun.”

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Live at the Capitol

February 16, 2009

We finally got the raw footage of Riley’s speech downloaded and I have a few minutes so I wanted to upload it for those for whom the previous blog, media footage, and the words of his speech weren’t enough.  Okay Auntie Linda and Uncle Doug, here’s Riley – live from the Capitol.

The Rally

February 13, 2009

A couple of weeks ago Equality Utah invited my 7 year old son to give a speech about his family at the Capitol as part of their Family Rally. Riley was excited to participate. His first response was, “How big will my stage be and how many people will be watching me?” He’s a ham. He’s an extrovert. But he is only 7. I wasn’t sure he could pull it off.

He started practicing his speech right away. I saw him in the walk-in closet the next day standing in front of the mirror hollering, “Freedom. Freedom! We live in America and we’re supposed to have freedom!” That night he told me and his Mama Kim that he was going to need our help typing his speech because he kept forgetting what he wanted to say. So after dinner, Kim and Riley went downstairs and Riley dictated his speech to Kim while she typed out his words. He practiced every night. He edited his words. He put the right emphasis on the right syllable and each night he wowed me in my living room.

We were running late the day of the rally. So by the time we walked into the rotunda at the Capitol, the rally had already started. There were a couple of hundred people there. Suddenly Riley looked terrified. We took our spot at the side of the room and that’s when Riley noticed them.

The camera crews.

He beamed. He whispered in my ear, “I wore this sweater because I knew the news was going to be here. Mom! I am going to be on the news. I know it.” His anticipation and excitement returned and the fear seemed to subside.

Equality Utah introduced Riley as “a man I have known since 2004. A man who has been a life-long activist.” Riley beamed and stumbled to the front because he insisted on carrying a music stand to hold his speech on. He seemed awkward as he fumbled with the microphone. And then he began.

Hi. My name is Riley.

I am 7 years old, and I have a little brother named Casey.

We have two moms. We are a family.

We take care of each other.

We hug each other.

We play together.

We do chores together.

We eat together.

And we love each other no matter what!

At school I am learning about freedom.

I am learning that in the United States we have freedom.

But sometimes I don’t feel like we do.

I think that freedom means we can have the family we have and people shouldn’t say mean things about us just because we have two moms or two dads.

I think that in families like mine, two moms or two dads should be free to take care of their children.

That would make those families feel more safe.

I am lucky because I was born in Massachusetts so both of my moms are my legal moms.

I am thankful that they can always protect and take care of me.

I wish that all of the children in families like mine could feel safe like I do.

This would help me believe in freedom more.

Thank you for coming tonight and please don’t stop working to change the adoption laws so there can be freedom in Utah and Liberty and Justice for ALL!

It was perfect. He was perfect. Pride dripped down my cheeks and I quickly wiped them away. And sure enough, his first speech was captured on several news channels. One channel even asked if they could get a comment from him. I wasn’t sure at first but Riley was bouncing with excitement. “I have to do it Mom.” He said. And we let him.

He couldn’t wait to get home and see himself on television. He called relatives to remind them to watch the news and he told each one. “Have you ever known anyone who has been on tv? Well now you do.” We let him stay up to see the 9 O’clock news and then tried to get him to sleep despite his excitement. We assured him we’d record the news at 10.

As we tucked him into bed he told me, “Tonight someone told me I should run for President. And you know what Mom, I’m thinking about it.” I gave him a squeeze and stepped aside for Kim to get her snuggles. “I’m changing the world.” He told her. “You sure are.” She replied.

As we stepped away from the bed to turn off the lights, Riley sat up. Suddenly he looked concerned, even scared. “Do you know what I am a little bit worried about?” He asked us.

“What?” Kim replied.

“I’m afraid that I might be assassinated.”

“You mean, if you became President?”

“No. I mean, what if someone saw me on the news and they weren’t a free thinker. A lot of people who tried to change the world were killed. Like Martin Luther King Junior. And John F. Kennedy.”

I had hoped he was expressing a regular age-appropriate fear. You know, like the fear of the boogie-man. Only the boogie-man to him was embodied in hateful homophobia. But as we talked, I came to understand that he really just got it. He gets the impact of oppression, even more than I realized at first. So while we assured him that most people would be respectful to him and wouldn’t hurt him. We talked about how most people who don’t support his family are still good people. Then we told him we’d do everything we could to keep him safe. And we reviewed safety rules just to assuage his anxiety.

But really what do you say to a 7-year old who asks you that? Especially after you run out of things to say, and he says, “I wonder if you could ask Martin Luther King Junior if all he did was worth dying for, what would he say?”

I told him it was a good question, one to be pondered while he slept. As we shut off the light, he said just one more thing. “I think he would say it was worth it.”

Check out the news coverage at:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=5573888

or here

The dealio according to the machine

February 9, 2009

So I feel like a Big-FAT-Failure where keeping on top of life is concerned.  I’ve wanted to write.  I’m back at work full-time and I tell ya what.  It isn’t a 40 hour a week commitment even when it is.  There’s having to get dressed.  I’m expected to smell decent.  Or at least NOT smell.  I have to run a comb through my hair.  Then….there’s the commute.  I’m a machine that operates from 7 AM – 6 PM and just when I want to hit the off switch there’s dinner to make, homework to help with, bathtime, bedtime. 

I go to bed and do it all again.

And don’t get me wrong.  I like my job.  I like the people I work with.  I like what I do.  I like learning new things.  And while I want to keep some privacy where work is concerned, it feels like there’s nothing else to write about since I’m working what seems like all day everyday.  We’ve got the machine down to a science except when one – just one – unexpected thing happens.  Recently it was Casey with ringworm and an ear infection.  I’m living proof that the domino theory is alive and well.  The dominoes fall one after another as I juggle scheduling the appointment with the doctor.  Showing up.  Being referred to the ENT.  His tube has fallen out yet again and we’re back on the path of another surgery if we can’t get the infection to clear out. So, he’s back on antibiotics.  Which means the antibiotic is upsetting his stomach and the result is a real challenge to the potty training.  Not to mention the sleeping.

As long as everything goes according to plan, the machine works well.   

I feel so scattered and behind.  Trudging into work 15 minutes late.  Today the machine was slowed down by the unexpected storm that blew in 6 hour early if you (like me) listen to channel 2 news.  The morning commute was supposed to be unaffected.  How can a few snowflakes throw my whole routine into a bumbling two-step between left-footed cowgals? 

So here’s the dealio.  I’m downsizing.

First, if you know me in real life and you choose to come to my house, there is no promise that the toilet seat will be clean.  Dishes might not even be done.  There will be clutter.  But I promise, no filth.

Second, if I’m multitasking, know that it is out of sheer desperation, not preference.

Third, I’ve dropped (or am in the process of dropping) several “things” I’ve been involved in.  I’m in a community diversity group which I adore.  Bye. Bye.  Riley has 2 weeks left of junior basketball then bah-bye.  I’m trying to find the dignity to actually let the local paper I write for know I’m bailing there too.  So far, I’ve just missed deadlines.  I’m all but stopping community involvement.  I still want to blog, but on a reduced schedule. And if we read each other’s blogs, no offense, I just can’t keep up. Here’s my commitment.  I’ll read you in spurts.  And to my Thursday night coffee-shop date, our cocoa nights keep me sane, but can we go every other week?

Thank you for continuing to check my blog.  My sister says she checks about 50 times a day, so I’m sure my blog stats are skewed, but they are a dose of self esteem when I get the time to check.  But here’s the dealio.  Check my blog twice a week and I will make sure that one of those times you won’t be dissapointed.  Check it more than that and no guarantees.

After all, I’m just a machine.