Thursday, November 26, 2009

Can We Talk?

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that everyone who is reading this has a little bit of home and comfort today.

Second, it has come to my attention that people really wanted to donate to a Wii fund for E. I greatly appreciate that there are people generous enough in the world who are willing to give a complete stranger money for a gift for their daughter. You are amazing people with kind hearts. But although I appreciate your offer, I must refuse. Hubby and I have spent years straightening ourselves out financially. Now that E is older and we can finally afford to give her a Wii, even if it means we buy less for ourselves, WE want to give her the Wii. It means more that we are buying it without going into debt, making her sacrifice and to be giving it to her now. We are fine. I am enjoying the fact that I only have $15 to spend on Hubby this Christmas. His gifts are going to mean more to him and to me, also. So thanks, but I must decline.

Third, I always associate myself as a Southern writer even though I am a true Midwesterner. But whenever we come here to Florida I am reminded that I am just a poser. I go from the polite, nouveax South to Down-South, DEEP Down-South. Now you may not think of Florida as being the deep South, but there are pockets here that rival Biloxi, MS and Mobile, Al. Since I have been here, I have been fed homemade black-eyed peas, creamed corn, sticky rice with tomato gravy and pan-fried pork chops. The house we are in is the oldest house in the town and it is filled from floor to ceiling with country knick-knacks and antiques. I kid you not, Country Living may one day come here to do a pictorial spread. There's even a swinging bed on the back porch.

People get together just to chew the fat and talk about the Snow Birds and Damn Yankees. I surreptitiously leave the room when these conversations start. But the air feels different here, heavier and more humid. We are surrounded by orange groves and flowering bushes. Banyan trees grow native here and Spanish moss abounds. It's amazing. It's so different here that my father-in-law just asked who Bob Marley was. It is the true South.

Lastly, I must answer some of my commenters who think the real alarms going off are a message. I must say I am starting to agree. I purposely didn't mention that the night my fire alarm went off, I felt that tell-tale tugging at my feet. Sticking to my desire to keep myself closed off to all things spiritual, I firmly told whatever it was to go away. It was only a few hours later that the alarm went off. But I still wasn't convinced, until we arrived here in Florida. We had only been here a few hours and I was upstairs reading to E before she went to bed when my in-laws security alarm malfunctioned. It's warning beep kept going off, alerting them that something was wrong with Section 14. Only there is no section 14. My father-in-law called the alarm company and they couldn't figure out what was going wrong. They agreed there was no section 14.

I was starting to get freaked out. ANOTHER alarm was going off. What the hell? But then I got to thinking about the number 14. Remember when hand-held calculators came out and we all spent so much time creating words with numbers, flipping the calculator over and reading them. HELLO, OHIO, HI!!!! Think of 14 on a digital screen. The four on a calculator does not look like a closed four, it looks like an upside down h. Was my message a ghost saying "hi?" Am I crazy? Who's trying to talk to me again? Do I even want to answer?

Anywho, I have one more day here and will be driving the long drive back up 95. I still have my deep, malicious cough and the fuzzy animals here are not helping, so wish me luck surviving my last day and the long drive home. Not to mention the crush of relatives that set off all of my "too close to my personal space" bells. Ahh, tis the season....Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Line Ever

I so totally meant to post about this the night it happened, but life got in the way. I am working for a teaching theater and I have a great group of kids. Some have talent, some don't. My theater is not about bursting bubbles, though, so I treat them all like they're great. Real life will start to kick their butts soon enough.

Anywho, my male lead in our show has not yet embraced the fact that he is gay. Now, before you go "Hey, how judgmental is she?", wait! All my life I have been surrounded by gay men. My best friends in college were all a group of gay men who spent a lot of time together, too much time, if you get my meaning. I have learned the intricacies of gayness and I wholeheartedly applaud those who accept themselves.

But for this 14 year-old boy, his gayness stands in his way of his acting. It is not that he can't act because he's gay, it's because he hasn't come out and so when he does something really feminine, I can't call him on it because it is not my place. I want his character to be more like Barney on How I Met Your Mother (played by a gay actor) and he is playing it more like the guy who won the most recent Big Brother (or was he runner-up?).

He comes from a very religious family and I am not sure he will ever accept who he is. Which brings me to a Grey's Anatomy episode a while back. I have to say, I've been disappointed with the show this season. It has just seemed more like a soap opera than a drama. But the episode where Callie stood up to her religious father made Hubby and I cheer, actually cheer. I found a small clip here. Somewhere in that same episode Callie and her dad go head to head with bible verses about homosexuality. I think I should memorize her part for future interactions with religious homophobes.

But I wish all young kids going through their sexual identity crises could have someone who stands on a table top and screams "You can't pray away the gay!" Then adults like me, who want to hold open and honest conversations with kids could make a difference. This male-child could have an adult whom he doesn't have to hide around, doesn't have to worry about slipping around. He could realize his sexuality is just another part of him, like his hair color or his eye color. I can't be the person standing on the table top because that would make him run screaming from the room.

But instead he goes to a fundamentalist religious school everyday and hears that his "kind" are bad. He doesn't even know he is his "kind" and he will struggle for the next few years and experiment in dangerous ways because he is ashamed and lost. Shame on all the religious zealots who created this atomosphere.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

It had to be the fire alarm

When E was 5 she was attending kindergarten at our local public school. She had already been tested for the gifted program and so would stay in her K class for science and social studies but walk (by herself) from the far end of the K hall all the way through the school to the farthest end of the 1st grade hall so she could take 1st grade math and reading. Imagine a Giant H. That's how E's school was designed.

Now remember, my daughter has severe issues with anxiety. Enough that we sought treatment. But she has reason to be anxious, she's got my weirdness magnet. One day while she was walking from K to 1st, the school fire alarm went off. E had left the K hall but hadn't made it into the 1st grade hall. She was stuck in the bar of the of the H so to speak. When the alarm went off the doors automatically closed. I guess that's to contain the fire if there is one. E was too tiny to be able to open them by herself, so she was trapped in a hall all alone with the alarm blaring. No one thought to look for her, however, because the K teacher thought the 1st grade teacher had her and the 1st grade teacher thought the K teacher had her. You can imagine how scared she was. The principal found her on his final swing through the school.

Well, fast forward to today. E has been struggling again with her anxiety. I think it is because she is so lonely. There's no kids to run out and play with here. Several weeks ago there was a fire at her school. The alarm went off and all the kids filed outside while it was put out. I thought E was okay with it, but she wasn't.

Then I had my lovely little toaster oven fire and her nerves just became shot. One thing happened and another and we discovered her anxiety overwhelmed her leading to some embarrassment at school. So Hubby and I have been diligently doing our best to try to comfort her and still not allow her to succumb to her fears. It's not easy but we were doing it, until last night that is....

Our fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. Not just the "beeping to alert you that the battery needs changing", but the big, long terrifying, blinding-white noise alarm. I struggled out of my sleep and charged through the house to get to E in case there really was a fire. There wasn't (we still don't know why our alarm went off) but she was shaking uncontrollably. So was I, as a matter of fact. But now we have to start over. Of course it had to be the alarm!

On a side note, my car is possessed. Something is going wrong with my key clicker and the doors keep locking themselves over and over. I try to get in and it keeps locking. It's quite comical to see me outside begging my car to let me in.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take No Prisoners

For those of you who actually keep track of the things I mention, I wanted to let you now I DID make it to my therapy session on Nov. 3rd. I didn't know if I was going to or was the scariest thing I have ever done. But I made it. The jury is still out on whether I am glad I did or not.

The whole thing keeping me out of therapy was the knowledge that I would have to sit down and tell someone my life story. Sure, I do it here all the time for the 200 or so strangers who are interested in my quirks. But to sit down and talk about all the things that have happened to me to someone whose job it it to work through that quagmire? Well, it was overwhelming. And I was afraid of the therapist's response. I knew what it would be. Sure enough, she said exactly, verbatim, what I was most afraid of. She said "You sure have been through a lot of trauma in your life." And that was just the session where she took some personal history. There were things we didn't have time to touch on. What's she going to say when she knows I found a dead body? Or my best friend died in childbirth?

But the fact that my worst fear came true and I didn't shrivel up and blow away means that I am strong enough to do this. It's going to be a painful, take no prisoners, gut-wrenching experience, but I can do this.

I will say it has made me very lonely. I have superficial friends here in CountryTime, but no one I can rush to and lean on to help me through this. Something very devastating and mortifying happened to my daughter yesterday and there was no one I could share it with. The open wound left behind by taking off the band-aid just made it all that much more glaring. But I know that will come with time.

I doubt I will be talking much about my therapy. I'd rather rant and rave and share the ups and downs of the pastoral world...I did just want you to know, though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Feeling Guilty

When my daughter was 4 we took her to see a child psychiatrist for anxiety. When she was young we had lightning strike close enough to knock us to the ground and then later, on a family vacation, she and my husband were swarmed by hornets. This caused an immense fear of bees and storms in her that we just couldn't seem to manage.

The psychiatrist gave us some good tricks to help her, but told us that she was one of the most empathetic children he had ever met. Normally, he told us, he didn't recommend children sharing in the troubling things that adults face, but in her case, she was so good at reading our faces that she could tell when things were wrong and imagined things that were usually worse than the truth. He told us when we were dealing with tense issues that we should share a thumbnail version of those issues with her so that her imagination didn't run away with her. We have done that. Of course we don't drag her into the dregs of the drama, but she knows more than most children about things, such as the economy. She knows that we are lower middle-class and that while we have enough money for the important things, we don't have a lot of extra.

She also knows there are a lot of children out there who have nothing and their parents are struggling right now. So when the Toys r' us wishbook came out I asked E to go through it and circle what she wanted. She spent an hour pouring over it and came to a page that she hesitated over for a very long time. I went to look at what had stopped her and it was the page with the DS games. When I asked her why she wasn't circling it, she said, "Because it is so expensive." I was taken aback. This was Christmas we were talking about. I told her that if it was something she wanted, she should circle it. Yes, it was expensive, but maybe Santa would get it for her.

At that point she kind of paused and said, "I don't want to ask Santa for it. There's so many kids this year whose parents can't afford Christmas, Santa needs to help them." My mommy heart just ached after that. She's such a good kid, but I feel so bad for taking away her innocence.

But the thing is, Hubby and I are not buying each other gifts this year because we are really trying to buy her a WII. She really wants the Wii but knows there's no way we can afford it. Since there are no children in our neighborhood and this is going to be a sad Christmas without her neighborhood friends from last year, we wanted to get her something really special. I guess we're trying to buy her love. Only now I feel guilty all over the place. Tis the season.