Sunday, August 10, 2014

Words Fail Me

There's a scene from Petunia's showers that makes me wish I could draw or paint. Pumpkin has decided she wants to give herself showers now, and so Petunia has also switched to showers. Petunia, though, can't quite do it on her own. So, when it is time to rinse the shampoo out of her hair, I often step one foot into the shower to help her. She closes her eyes and smiles and leans her head back (sort of- she's not so good at that part). It is such a tender, intimate moment, and I'm sure I'll forget it once she is old enough not to need my help anymore.

I won't pretend parenting hasn't been hard for me lately. I think it is largely due to the fact that Pumpkin has hit a difficult phase (seven is kicking our asses) right at the same time as I seem to be entering perimenopause. At a time when I most need patience and understanding, my anger is unpredictable, to say the least. I wonder why I never see this included in those silly pro-and-cons lists for having kids early vs. later in life. I think there must be definite advantages to having your kids be old enough to understand WTF is going on when Mommy's moods start swinging out of control. Although having this phase in my life overlap the time when my daughters hit puberty would be truly frightening. We would probably need to buy new doors, since all the females in this house favor stomping off to our room and slamming the door when angry.

Regardless, I'm going to have to figure out how to muddle through. Scenes like the one during Petunia's shower help a lot. Also, the kids played nicely together for a solid hour in the backyard this evening, while I sat and sipped some wine and read my book. It was a minor parenting miracle, and I am grateful for it.

In fact, I am grateful tonight for much, much more. I parent from an extraordinarily privileged position that I am painfully aware should be granted to all parents in this country, but is not. If my kids act up in public and I don't manage to handle it perfectly, I am given the benefit of the doubt. If I worry about someone calling Child Protective Services on us when one or the other of the kids is screaming about whatever horrible thing we've asked them to do (like put away their toys), it comes from the aforementioned hormonal fluctuations, and not a place of true worry. When my husband goes to the store, there is next to no chance that he will be shot by the police, no matter what merchandise he is carrying. And when my kids are old enough to be out on their own, I won't worry at all about them being shot by police.

I saw the news of the latest shooting on Twitter, of course. It is where I see most things first. I was saddened and angered. And then I saw this tweet, and I was ashamed:




Mike Brown's mother did not fail her son. We failed her. We have watched so many Black teenagers be killed, and we have done nothing. We have not fixed our problems. I am not sure we have even tried.

How, for instance, is it possible that no one in the Ferguson police department could recognize the truth of this:




How is it possible that white people are all over Twitter asking what Mike Brown did to deserve being shot, when we all just shrugged and accepted the nonsense that went on at Cliven Bundy's compound? Whatever Mike Brown did or did not do, he did not deserve to be gunned down in the street. He posed no clear and immediate threat to anyone. How is it possible that white people are all over Twitter arguing that John Crawford should not have been carrying an air rifle that is sold in the store he was in when the Open Carry people in Texas managed to go safely in and out of store after store with actual assault rifles?

I am at a loss for words, or for suggestions for action. But I once again find I need to at least acknowledge the privilege I have, and to wish someone could show me the way to help make this better. This is not how I want my country to be. This is not something I can accept as "just how it is." Actually, this self-evidently is just how it is, but I refuse to accept that it should stay that way.

I have no answers. You should read the much more eloquent words of Stacia L. Brown and Roxane Gay and think of the fundamental things in your life you take for granted that so many people in our country cannot. I do not know how we fix this, but perhaps the first step is for more of us to see it.

8 comments:

  1. :( It sucks so much. Everyone should have the privilege of not being shot on sight. Not just white people.

    On a lighter note: My husband is very hopeful that our 7 year old's current behavioral concerns will go away once school starts up again and his brain is being engaged. *I* don't remember being so difficult at age 7, but maybe my parents would disagree.

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    1. Hmmm, Pumpkin had some cool and interesting camps this year. I'll have to think about whether she had better behavior during the ones that were clearly teaching her new things or not.

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  2. I don't even know what to say about Mike Brown, except that I feel so much sorry for all those who knew and loved him.

    Regarding the first part of your post, I have done the math, and the odds are quite good that Baguette will go through puberty when I am going through menopause. Poor Mr. Sandwich.

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    1. I don't think any of us know what to say about Mike Brown. I certainly don't. But it was clear from my Twitter feed that the silence of white people on this was adding more hurt... so I felt like I had to at least say I see what is happening.

      On the other topic: I am only 42, so I'm a bit surprised to find perimenopause starting, but the symptoms match really well. I'm going to my doctor in a couple of weeks to talk about it and learn more. Some of what I've read indicates that the perimenopause phase can last as long as 10 years, and that is... disconcerting.

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    2. At least one of my friends started perimenopause even before that. No one has mentioned it to me yet, so I guess I'm not there yet. We all get our turn, though.

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  3. We are respectable negroes has an excellent post today on the topic of white privilege. http://www.chaunceydevega.com/2014/08/what-sort-of-white-person-do-you-want.html

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  4. Heartbreaking.

    Husband and I were discussing it a little at dinner tonight, and my 7-year old piped up saying that the circumstances of the shooting made no sense (even a 7 year old understands that! Yeah, I know, perhaps we talk too openly about the news in front of our children).

    Hopefully nicoleandmaggie are right and your 7-year old will calm down a little when school starts! All this unstructured free time is wearing on everyone at my house! (And btw, that image of Petunia in the shower is so adorable. It's heartbreaking the way you juxtapose the lovely descriptions of your family with the Mike Brown story).

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  5. Thank you for speaking about. I feel very much the same way. I've experienced casual, dismissive, and hateful racism directed at me or my family my entire life, and that's wearing enough; I still have the privilege of sometimes getting the benefit of the doubt in certain situations.

    I can't imagine living a life where I would never have that cushion of consideration, where I would always have to be on my guard with the people who are meant to *protect*. Meanwhile, these are my friends and neighbors who have to constantly fear for the safety of their families and their friends. It's just unacceptable that we've changed nothing in the past decades in this regard.

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