Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for November, 2008

Marching To The Beat Of Her Own Drummer

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Iris’ pre-school night. It’s a nice opportunity for the parents to meet one another and the teachers. Also, they actually hold a portion of the class so the parents can witness it and see what a "typical" day is like. It was a nice informal affair where the parents each brought a pot luck dish and munched away while reading stories or helping their sons & daughters color. Eventually, it was time for "Circle Time". Ah yes, that time honored tradition of gathering around the teacher and listening to stories or participating in teacher-led activities. "Teacher Trish" was very gracious and warned the parents that "this is strictly voluntary and as I sing the song, the only voice you might hear will be mine". Teacher Trish then asked the class "Would you like to sing Uncle Jesse?" And the kids said "Yayy!" At this point, I’m thinking "wow, I’ve heard Iris sing this song dozens of times. It’ll be cute to see her sing it with the rest of the class." So, the song starts and everyone sings. Well, everyone except for one person. Iris sat there silent. Then the teacher sings the next song, complete with the line "now we can get up and spin around". Well, every child gets up and dances. Every child except for one. As seven toddlers dances around, Iris just sat there. It didn’t matter that her best friend Devikaa was dancing. It didn’t matter that she was the only one left on the floor. She just sat there. Through each song and activity, Iris just sat there unphased by the world around her. She observed, but she had a look that bordered on disinterest. [NOTE: If this is the latest blog entry, we’ve probably still got the video of this playing above.]
 
My first instinct was panic. Oh my God, I’ve got the kid that stands out. What must the other parents think?
 
But then I thought about it more, my panic started to turn into a little bit of pride. She knew she didn’t have to get up–the teacher made that clear. She didn’t want to get up. So she didn’t get up. It’s easy to suggest that I’m experiencing a little cognitive dissonance and trying to justify my daughter’s somewhat defiant behavior, but let’s be honest: it takes a lot of courage to say "I don’t care if everyone else is doing something. I am not interested." That night, I kept thinking back to Joe Lieberman’s speech at the Republican National Convention where Senator Lieberman was pitching for John McCain. At one point, he invokes Bill Clinton as an example of bi-partisanship and the ability to overcome party lines to get things done. But he says it in a manner to elicit a response of cheering. So the crowd cheers. Bill Clinton. The same man they called Slick Willy. The same man they impeached. The same man they said brought shame to the White House. Why would they all cheer? Well, because the person next to them cheered. And they didn’t want to stand out. In this political climate, many people seem to ignore individual cognitive thought in favor of groupthink ("he’s a terrorist", "she’s folksy", and "he’s a good Christian") and cast votes based on what their neighbor tells them. We abdicate critical reason for the sake of what someone tells us to think. And that’s how thousands of Republicans cheered for Bill Clinton (not to be completely biased, I do recognize this behavior occurs in both parties…).
It’s quite the combination of fortitude and courage to ignore the pack, especially while so many adults are watching.  I’ve often referred to Iris as having my mother’s stubborness. But frankly, I don’t think she’d have had the guts to ignore what everyone else was doing. Unfortunately, society has the ability to penalize this individualism, but my hope is that it can somehow be preserved as she gets into adulthood. It’ll make for challenging parenting (it already has), but the world needs more of this behavior. I’ll do what I can, but the rest is up to her…

A Historic Day

OBAMA WINS!!  Wow – to remember where we were on that day… 

 

That morning I opened my eyes and immediately reached for my iPhone Obama app. Aha!  Under “local events” it said there’d be sign waving at key points on Ygnacio Valley Road, including at Iron Horse Bridge just a few blocks from our house.  Picturing a family photo op in a crowd of Obama supporters, I jumped up, greeted a sleepy Iris with a “Happy Election Day” and got her dressed quickly so we could make it to the bridge on time.  The event listing said 6-9am, and it was already 8am.  Yikes!  Somehow we got the double jogging stroller ready faster than usual, grabbed the “No on 8” sign out of our car and the Obama sign from our yard, and the Obama hat and pin, and headed out.  We got within view of the bridge and saw… not one person on the bridge.  No signs of any sort!  Did we have the wrong day?  Weird.  We continued walking down the street to the next major intersection that was mentioned on the event, and still no one.  On down to the BART station and still no one!  I held my Obama yard sign as we walked though, and did have fun getting some car honks and waves.  Felt pretty silly actually.  Iris was saying “mommy why didn’t we stop at the bridge?  Where are the Obama people?”  We decided to stop for breakfast before daddy’s business call, then said goodbye to him and headed to the Democratic Campaign Headquarters.  Turns out they had no idea there about any sign waving, and were instead frantically calling swing states and watching polling places. 

 

Oh well, off to Kids Yoga for us, then home for nap.  By the end we had walked an entire loop of downtown Walnut Creek, and I was exhausted.  Iris took her nap, but Robyn, having been lulled to sleep in the stroller all morning, was wide awake and ready to play.  So I witnessed a small piece of history for us then – Robyn debuted rolling over from her back to her front several times.  J

 

Where were those Obama supporters?  Would he end up losing because I was too busy with kids to make an effort to get out the vote?  Maybe my little Facebook comments, emails, and donations could not be enough.  This was my last chance…  Robyn still wouldn’t sleep so I bounced her on my knee as I clipped on my Bluetooth and nervously called Pennsylvania and Colorado voters for Obama from my cell phone.  I figured the fussing baby in the background would only make me more endearing, right? 

 

Daddy arrived home and I handed Robyn to him and crashed on the bed upstairs for half an hour, trying to get rid of a splitting headache.  Very nervous now and not at all sure that Obama could possibly win.

 

Iris prepared for the election night by busily arranging her wicker doll-sized chairs in front of the TV and placing her Obama-Bear carefully in one of them.  (her Tata drove to an Obama rally in Nevada and brought that back for her)  My high school friends Auste and Rachel ventured out from the city, dinner in hand, to see the kids and join us for this hopefully historic night.  Iris had fun bouncing around and playing with them for awhile.  Then Sandy took Iris up to bed, and miraculously she didn’t put up a fight, just stayed up in her room and quiet the whole rest of the night while we “watched the news”.  She must’ve had a sense about the importance of the election.  Auste, Rachel and I began busily setting out food in the kitchen when all of a sudden Sandy says from the other room – “Obama won!  He’s our president!” 

 

Whaaat?  Somebody hit pause!  We’re not ready yet.  How could it be decided already?  We ran into the other room and watched McCain’s concession speech, which we were relieved to be impressed with, although the audience strongly booing Obama was disappointing.  Does the losing side always boo the president?  I don’t seem to remember that sort of attitude in past elections.  Aren’t those people “unpatriotic” to boo their next president?

 

After hitting pause again and quickly eating some dinner and making some toasts, we sat down to watch Obama’s acceptance speech.  Amazing.  I don’t know how anyone watching that could have felt unhappy about him as our next president.  Unlike George W. Bush who said he had a mandate when some would argue he didn’t even win, Obama won with a clear landslide and yet described it as a time when Democrats are “humble” about their win.  He spoke as a uniter even then.  I feel so relieved to have escaped the total letdown that would have happened had he lost after bringing hope and engaging so many people all over the country and world.  I hope that those who did not vote for him will learn the real facts about Obama, and read Audacity of Hope to understand that though he was described by opponents as “most liberal member of the Senate”, he is actually the least partisan person you could meet.  He sees things in a completely different frame, and understands those things that we all value in common whether “red” or “blue”.  I see so much possibility in him, and will remember this night for a very long time.  Robyn, you were born in a very exciting year.

 

As Iris is learning to say  – “Obamanos!”

Love and Marriage

This weekend Robyn and Iris got the privilege of attending an historic event: Great Uncle Tim’s wedding to George.  I was teary as I explained to Iris that marriage is when two people love each other enough to want to spend the rest of their lives together.  She wondered everyday things like if she could get a ring too, and whether there would be cake… but she understood quite clearly and without question how wonderful it was for two people to be in love and get married.  And she sure loves to spend time with uncles Tim and George!  (Just watch Iris’ birthday video to see them dancing “on stage” with her.  They’re both really good sports about being silly with a 3 year old)

It was a beautiful ceremony, and the entire family was there to celebrate and recognize their relationship.  That was quite a milestone for a Catholic family who has not always been so open and accepting. 

 

On the way from the church to the reception, we drove past people waving Yes on Prop 8 signs – you know those signs with their silhouettes of families holding hands?  I thought how ironic that a proposition could use signs like that, when it was full of so much hate.  In a world where heterosexuals get married on TV and divorced at high rates, shouldn’t we all congratulate any two people willing to make a real long term commitment to love and care for one another?  Maybe we could learn a bit from people who value marriage so much that they’re willing to publicly marry despite putting themselves in a position where so much hate can be directed towards them.

 

And it wasn’t too long ago either that Sandy and I would not have been allowed to get married either because of our different races.  I really can’t imagine how I would have dealt with that.

 

Each of us donated to No on Prop 8 as wedding gifts, hoping that this marriage would continue to be recognized by more than just our family after Nov 4th.  Here’s to hoping that voters think about all the Tim and Georges out there.

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