Yummies and Yuckies

When my daughter was little our pediatrician encouraged us to start doing “yummies and yuckies” as part of our bedtime routine.  Each night we’d all share the best things (yummies) and worst things (yuckies) of our day.  Sadly this little tradition has gone by the wayside – I think it had something to do with my daughter’s behavior being a yucky one too many times – but I’m going to bring it back here to catch you up on the life of the Aftheads recently.

Yummy/Yucky #1

  • Yucky – my daughter got lice.  It finally happened.  I’ve been dreading this day and threatening to abandon her at the fire station if it ever happened.  (I’m convinced that “safe haven” thing extends to seven year olds, but only if there are lice involved).  I didn’t leave her though.  I’m mommed up, dumped insecticide on her head, and combed through her long hair for two hours and 45 minutes removing lice, nymphs and eggs.  Then for a week after I spent an hour going through her hair and my hair with a literal fine toothed comb – man I really get the imagery behind that phrase now- to ensure we were done with the infestation.  She had a really mild case.  It wasn’t that bad.  I won’t get PTSD, unless those crawly things end up in my hair!
  • Yummy  – The lice killing chemicals had detailed step by step instructions for dealing with head lice, and vague references to “pubic lice”.  I am thankful that I didn’t have to decipher those.

Yummy/Yucky #2

  • Yummy – we had an amazing trip to Washington D.C. to kick off our summer.  We took my daughter when she was four, and she really didn’t have any context for why our nation’s capital is a cool place.  This year she got it.  She knows the president lives in the White House.  She stood on the step where MLK gave his “I have a dream” speech and recited the first few lines.  Making it even more special was that we got to go with her best friend. I’ve got an adorable picture of the two of them, head to head, wind whipping their hair in front of the Washington Monument.
  • Yucky – the best friend had lice when we were in D.C. but no one knew it yet.  If you zoom in on the Washington Monument picture you can see those little burgers leaping off the friend’s hair into my daughter’s hair riding the currents of the wind to a new fertile land.

Yummy/Yucky #3

  • Yummy – Marriage equality happened!  I have friends and co-workers whose lives are changed because of this, and I’m so thrilled.  I didn’t find out the way I’d imagined, but I got to find out with my daughter and we had a great conversation about what the supreme court ruling meant.  It went like this,

Me – “Kiddo, this means people can marry whoever they want.  If a boy loves a girl they can get married.  If a boy loves a boy they can get married.  If a girl loves a girl they can get married.”

Kiddo – “I don’t want to get married.  Why do kids have to get married now?”

Me – “No I meant a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman now.”

Kiddo – “Oh.  I don’t ever want to get married.”

Me – “That’s still okay.”

Then we picked up one of her friends and headed to camp.  The two seven year olds had another great conversation about the ruling:

My kiddo – “Hey my mom said that anyone can marry who they want now.  It’s a big deal.”

Friend – “Yeah, people can kiss whoever they want.  I hate kissing.”

My kiddo – “I’m not getting married to anybody.”

Friend – “Me either.”

Thus the nation changed to be more tolerant, more accepting and more equal, but you still don’t have to kiss anyone or get married if you don’t want to.

  • Yucky – I kind of forgot that everyone wasn’t anxiously awaiting this ruling.  Its made some people I really love and care about pretty angry.  While that doesn’t change my feelings it does remind me that change is hard and this ruling doesn’t mean that every individual has become more tolerant and more accepting.

Two more days of lice hunting and we can claim the infestation over.  Maybe then my head will quit itching and I’ll have time to write again.

Redefining our nation’s future (a message of hope)

This week one of my co-workers is getting married to her partner.  She is so excited.  They’ve been together forever, but finally they can have a real wedding.  She’s excited and giddy and cute in a totally not-her kind of way.  I’m not one for weddings.  My husband and I eloped.  But this wedding, this one feels special to me: fragile and new and filled with hope that things are changing.

We’ll be in her performance review together when my phone will buzz.  I’ll check, because I always check.  My kid might be sick.  There might be an emergency at work.  This time the message will be from the Washington Post.  It will announce that the Supreme Court has decided that marriage between two adults who love each other is A-Okay whether you are a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man.  (The message will be much more professional in it’s phrasing.)  I will tear up.  I will show her the note.  She will tear up.

We will celebrate together that for the first time there isn’t a question if her relationship or my relationship is more official.  We will both know that if our spouse is sick we will be able to visit him/her in any emergency room in any state because she/he will be recognized as our spouse.  We will know that when our spouse dies or we die our assets will go to our partner automagically.  We will have the same hard choices if our marriage doesn’t work out.

I hope that the Supreme Court makes law what I know in my heart to be true.  Adults who love each other and are willing to commit their lives to each other deserve the same rights and recognition regardless of the individual’s genders.  I hope I can tell my daughter someday about this week with pride and joy.  We are at a crossroads and I hope we go the right way.

Gay curious, but not in the urban dictionary way

I’m finding the blogosphere to be an interesting place for book research. As my character’s lives are moving forward they are developing their own personalities. The son of my protagonist is only five, but already I know something about him that even his dad doesn’t.  He’s gay.  This leads me to writing about something I know little to nothing about. I’m not gay. I have friends who are gay, colleagues that are gay, a massage therapist that is gay, but no one I really feel comfortable asking awkward questions about gay love and gay courtship and gay feelings. I’m pretty sure human resources would get involved if I scheduled a meeting to ask my two gay teammates about the first time they fell in love.

Bloggers choose what they are open about though, and through the words of my cohorts I can learn. I’ve been fretting about the coming adulthood of my character and worried about how to handle his early relationships and his dad’s reaction. Then I came across this post on The Gay Soap Box and I was elated.  Here it was.  The story of a girl realizing that she liked other girls, and it was a great bit of writing.  I felt her awareness, her awkwardness, her bargaining, and her curiosity.  It was like I was in that bus with her sitting in her skin.

In some ways her emotions were foreign, but in many ways they reflected my own feelings in early love:  the uncertainty and the awakening.  (I’ll never forget my first lust.  That dumb Jason guy talking about how he only liked girls who gave blow jobs, and at 13 I had no idea what that was.  I did know that I would do anything for him if he would just pay attention to me. Thank goodness he never did.)  In some ways I was even jealous of her story.  At least she knew what undergarments Jen likely had on.  If you have relationships with the opposite sex everything below the top layer is a mystery early on.

Energized by this blog post I started searching WordPress for other enlightening stories using tags like “Gay Love”.  Uh mistake.  Apparently WordPress is not just about words, but about images too.  Thankfully I was on my home computer by myself.  I already knew that I wasn’t a heterosexual voyeur, and now I know I’m not a homosexual voyeur either.  Give me your racy novels, but keep your videos and images to yourself, thanks.  I am a visual prude.

Undaunted I started looking again, but more cautiously.   Nothing yet has spoken to me the way The Gay Soap Box did, but as I’ve been searching I have also been thinking.  Maybe there isn’t a formula for awakening sexual love: gay or straight.  My worries and fears and biases are different from yours regardless of your orientation.  (For example, you might like pictures.)  Maybe love is a thing without rules and without trends.  Am I arrogant to think that I can now write about gay male love because I read a post about gay female love and I have some experience in straight love?  Can I use my own experiences as proxy for homosexual, or even other heterosexual, relationships?  Was being shunned by a boyfriend’s Jewish parents because I didn’t share their son’s faith similar to a man being shunned by his parents or his lover’s parents because he is gay?  I had a crush on a black guy in college and I never acted on it because I didn’t know if he liked girls “like me.”  Can I now empathize with a gay woman approaching another woman of unknown orientation?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I am thankful for The Gay Soap Box author for her post, because she was brave, and her risky post made me wiling to write mine.  My apologies if I sound naïve, callous or unenlightened in this space.  My missteps weren’t made out of malice or intolerance but out of simple curiosity; I’d like to begin this conversation.