Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Continuing the Conversation

I wrote the following post four years ago when Prop 8 was enacted in California. It still says everything I believe about the issue. Since I wrote that post, we've continued the conversation with all the kids in small ways here and there about how any person should be able to marry the person he or she loves.

Today I'm going to talk politics, which I don't usually do, because this isn't that kind of blog. I don't know exactly what kind of blog this is, but it isn't a political one. Also, if you're going to leave a hateful comment or send me an e-mail telling me I'm going to hell, don't bother. You're not going to change my mind, and I don't believe in hell, anyway. I'm open to polite discussion, though.

This morning I was listening to NPR while driving the girls to the bus for camp. Of course, the lead story was about the overturning of Prop 8 in California. This led to an interesting and encouraging discussion with Ella about the issue. Lily didn't say much, but I could tell she was listening intently.

Me: Do you understand what the news is about?
Ella: Yes. It's about whether two girls or two boys can get married to each other, like Aunt P and Aunt S.
Me: Right. The law right now says that only a boy and girl can marry each other, not two girls or two boys.
Ella: Why can't two girls or two boys marry each other?
Me: That's a good question. Some people think that it's wrong. Some people say that it shouldn't be allowed because of the bible.
Ella: What do you think?
Me: I think that two people, boy-girl, girl-girl, boy-boy, if they love each other and aren't married to anyone else already should be allowed to get married.
Ella: And they can't be brothers or sisters.
Me: Right, they can't be related.
Ella: So Aunt P and Aunt S should be able to get married if they want to?
Me: Yes, if they want to.
Ella: The only problem I see is that if too many boys get married to boys or too many girls get married to girls, there won't be as many babies born. But I don't think that's going to be a big problem.
Me: No, probably not. There are lots more straight people than gay people. And gay couples can have children.
Ella: What do you mean "straight"?
Me: Well, when a boy likes girls and a girl likes boys, that's called being straight. When a boy likes boys, that's called being gay. There are some people who think that gay people choose to be gay and that they should just choose not to be. But scientists who study the brain say that whether you like boys or girls is part of how your brain works. You don't choose to be gay or straight any more than you choose to have brown hair. 
Ella: Gay also means really, really happy. Like SpongeBob.
Me (trying not to laugh): Yes, SpongeBob is totally gay.

The discussion ended there, but I was pleased with how it went. I answered her questions as she asked them and put things in terms she could understand. My hope is that my kids' generation will grow up believing that of course any two adults can get married if they want to.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Push and Pull

I haven't been writing about Ella much, not because I don't love her, which I do, but because she's 12 and I'm very conscious of respecting her privacy. She's had a tough year, but that's her story to tell someday, when she's ready.

Today I'm breaking my promise.

Now that Ella is 12, we are getting the full pre-teen treatment. Doors are slammed, eyes are rolled, sighs are heaved. For the most part, we just roll with it, grateful that it's not anything worse. But we definitely see her pushing for more independence and freedom.

Her teen-age-ness is popping up in some unexpected places. Last Wednesday I picked Ella up from school. As I had done every day for six weeks when she was in the wheelchair, I walked across the school driveway and met her on the sidewalk. She was mortified. Like hand covering her face so her friends wouldn't see her mortified.

She marched to the car 10 paces ahead of me the whole way.

Me: So am I not supposed to cross the driveway anymore?
Ella: Eye roll.
Me: I should just wait for you over on the grass?
Ella: Huge sigh
Me: How about I stand over on the grass and yell "Ella, sweetie! Over here baby!"
Ella: You wouldn't dare.

What she doesn't know is that I absolutely would dare.

The next morning I had to drop Ella off at school early for a field trip. It was still dark when we arrived, and I didn't see any teachers out supervising, so I parked, intending to get out of the car.

Ella: You don't need to get out of the car.
Me: I just want to make sure you're in the right place.
Ella: I know where I'm supposed to be.
Me: But I just want to confirm with your teachers.
Ella: You don't need to get out of the car and talk to my teachers.
Me: I don't see anyone here. How do you know it's the right place?
Ella: MOM! I see other kids who are going on the field trip. You don't need to get out of the car.
Me: So what you're saying is that you don't want me to get out of car?
Ella: Uggghhhhhhhhh

So that's fun. Ella's siblings are not pleased with her attitude, either. She has this need to prove that she is the smartest person in the house. And her sense of righteous indignation about any perceived slights or injustices is tiring.

But then there are times when Ella reminds me just how awesome a kid she really is.

On Friday, the middle school was shut down due to a broken water main, and all the students were sent home at 9:00. Ella came home with grand plans to ride her bike to meet friends and go to the playground. I told her she could, and then came the surprising part - she offered to hook the trailer to the bike and take Elizabeth with her.

Elizabeth was thrilled to go on an adventure with the big girls, and I was thrilled to have an empty house.

Maybe we will all survive her teen years, after all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Campbell's True Love

I had been feeling very much like a neglectful and unloving parent the past few months. Any time another mom asked me what sports my kids did, I'd talk about Ella's climbing and Lily's ballet, and then I'd trail off. I had never enrolled Campbell in any kind of sports or classes or anything.

So when the e-mail from the Dripping Springs Youth Sport Association arrived announcing registration for spring soccer, I signed Campbell right up. When I told him, he protested that he didn't know how to play soccer, and he wasn't comforted by my suggestions that maybe no one else on the team would either.

 But then we went to get his soccer gear. He wore his shorts, shin guards and cleats everywhere and carried his soccer ball with him. 

On the day of his first practice, he asked me approximately eleventy-mabillion times how long it was until we left. During the practice he ran and laughed the entire time. I'm not sure he had any idea of what was actually going on, but he had so much fun. 

The night before Campbell's first game, B gave the kids the option of staying up late and watching a movie. Campbell announced, in all seriousness, "I should go to bed on time. I do have a soccer game in the morning." And then he went to bed. 

Unfortunately, he poked me awake at 5:15 whispering, "Mom! Mom! Don't forget! I have a soccer game this morning." He was not happy when I told he we still had four hours before we needed to leave. 

B took Campbell to the soccer game while I was at ballet with Lily. About halfway through I got a text that said, "This is what Muppets would look like if Muppets could play soccer." 

That afternoon, Campbell and I talked about his game.

Me: Did you score any goals?
C: I don't know.
Me: Which team won?
C: I don't know.
Me: Did you at least have fun?
C: Yes! And we got popsicles!

I think soccer's a success. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Flashback Tuesday

The kids are all supposed to have their rooms cleaned and ready for inspection by 11:00 am each Sunday. Campbell, Lily and Ella had finished their chores at about 10:55, but Elizabeth was screaming that there was just too much to clean and she needed help. I tried the trick of having her just pick up clothing or just pick up dolls or just pick up five things, and none of them worked.

So I got mean and told her she had to stay in her room until she had picked up enough things that I could tell the difference.

Instead, she emptied the entire contents of her dresser on the floor. The other side of the room was even worse. FeeBee likes to sleep in Elizabeth's room next to the bed, but she couldn't even get to her spot.

This morning Elizabeth and I worked on getting her room under control. At one point, while standing on her rocking chair with her hands on her hips, Elizabeth told me, "This is the upstairs. Kids can do whatever them wants upstairs."

As I was convincing Elizabeth that she really didn't need to keep bent wire hangers and wadded-up stickers,  I remembered this post. And its thrilling conclusion.

Some things never change.