Archive for September, 2010

I mourn as I write, and share with you my grief as I reflect upon the day’s headlines.  CNN reported on two, tragically similar stories.  Anderson Cooper interviewed Asher Brown’s parents, and the CNN Wire Staff have updated the Tyler Cleminti story all day.

Words are not only too small for the enormous losses suffered by two, American families this week, they also dilute proximate cause:

Asher Brown BOTH Tyler Clementi
Constant victim of bullying TEENAGER Rutgers University freshman
Did not wear trendy clothes or shoes BELOVED SON Gifted Musician
Physically small GAY Played violin
Family repeatedly reported bullying to school COMMITTED SUICIDE THIS PAST WEEK Quiet

Bullied by his peers and called gay for over two years, despite repeated, family interventions to the school, Asher’s choice to come out of the closet to his parents was among his last words.   Asher made this disclosure early on the same day that he entered a closet in his family home and committed suicide by firearm.  Asher was 13.

Tyler Clementi’s last worldly communication was to update his Facebook status, “jumping off gw bridge, sorry.”  Tyler’s suicide is linked to the live, clandestine webcast of a sexual encounter with another man.  Tyler was 18.

Bullying.

Cyberbullying.

Homophobia.

Bias incrimination.

Internet as a tool to hurt and destroy a life and/or reputation.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Hate crimes.

Hallelujah breakers all.

The capacity of technology in our society exceeds the judgment, education, and appropriate behaviors of many users.

Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Bisexual curious youths are four times as likely to commit suicide as heterosexual youths.

We MUST be part of the solution.

Matthew 5:3-12 (King James Version)

3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you, and even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

What if instead of pediatricians sending home do/do not lists for parents, they published one for our sweet, little charges instead?

Think of the valuable regroup/first aid time we could save as families if our children complied with the following simple guidelines:

BEHAVIOR DO DO NOT


LICK Fudgesickles Flag poles in the winter
VISIT Grand Canyon Every public bathroom on route to Grandma’s house
AVOID Wasps, snakes, soda Baths, bed-time, vegetables
PLAY Musical instruments, Old Maid, Soccer With matches, with guns, alone
SHARE Friendship, toys, crayons Hatred, gum, body fluids
DISCARD Used Kleenex, apple cores, empty juice boxes Remote controls, keys, Papa’s iPhone
CLIMB Jungle gyms, rock walls, ropes Bookshelves, deck rails, back of couches
EAT Fruit, whole-wheat bread crusts, what the rest of the family is having for dinner Styrofoam popcorn, dirt pies, toe jam
GROW Sunflower seeds, pig-tails, family values Up too fast

User-errors break Hallelujah!

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Several significant events transpired over the past week:

1.)  I learned that my spiritual ministry is off balance as I withhold it from myself.

2.)  I realized that I must, must, must give The Boy more autonomy and take him less personally.

3.)  My Father held me on His lap.  He wore an old shirt, just like The Husband does at church, so that the mascara on his shoulder didn’t matter.

4.)  Broken Hallelujah achieved 30 days, and then, 30 posts.  (Small in the comparative litmus of the Internet, huge in terms of an investment from me to me.)

5.)  I enjoyed reunion with my Foster Daughter.  FD may be one of the most physically,  beautiful people I have ever met.  A natural strawberry blonde, and eyebrows of a magazine cover, she’s simply shiny with potential, and she belongs on the stage.  She lives in NYC now.  She’s courageous enough to risk and leverage her gifts.  She’s all done with what was done to her:  she’s rescued herself.   When I first met her, there was much triage, and my constant point of focus was… “What does she need?’  Last night, we sat across each other at The Cheesecake Factory, of all places.  The dinner was replete with wonder, and we both ate cheesecake… joint recovery miracles unto themselves.  Tummy tight with delight, I looked across the table at this now-sophisticated-young-woman, and realized how much growth and hope she’s spun into the fabric of our family life.  A sacred chord.   FD is as unexpected a gift from God as I have ever received.

6.)  I gave The Middle Girl an experience today that so reverberated with joy and friends, she may well remember it when she’s 30.

I remain uncertain of many things.  In this past month with you, however, I have confronted demons, sent my baby to kindergarten, identified lids, not run away from home, and mined gifts.

Tonight, I celebrate some things I got right.

Gettin’ it right lifts Hallelujah!

Realizing that  I get it right more often than I get it wrong isn’t vanity, it’s sanity!

Maybe I’ve been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

In my father’s family, there was a list of skills that had to be mastered before they were eligible for their driver’s license.  It included things like being able to do their own laundry, changing a tire, and planning and preparing a meal.  My grandparents’ idea behind this policy was simple:  driving a car is a privilege that demands responsibilities.  As times have changed, however, so has the self-efficiency time-line.  Preteens of today are more precocious and savvy than previous generations.  They need survival skills well before they’re 16 because they drive choices that will forever impact their lives well before they ever get behind the wheel:

1.)    Budgeting Lessons Help May Help Balance Trendy Fads-

Whether you give your child an allowance that s/he as to earn through chores or designated family responsibilities, or extend as a stipend, those funds create ample teachable moments.

a. Fix the amount and stick to it.  Having to stretch money over the course of a week teaches simple budgeting principles.

b. Set price limits on what you are willing to spend on given items such as clothes, shoes, technology, school supplies, etc.  If your child wants to get the hot shoes or latest jean label, s/he will have use allowance funds or save up for it.  This practice will help preteens become critical not only of their choices – what is important enough for me to spend my own money on, but also aware of the (high) price of things in general.

c. Consider mandating child set aside a portion of his/her funds off the top for savings, college, tithing, taxes, etc.  Doing so models how much of family allotted funds have predesignated purposes that might help preteens understand the realities of budgeting on a larger scale.

2.)    Laundry

I don’t advocate that preteens learn to do their own laundry because I think they need another chore, I suggest it because it is a lifelong maintenance issue of housekeeping.

a. Sort and Temperature.  Teach why it’s important to sort the laundry into darks and whites and wash them at the appropriate temperature.  Bottom-line it, “If you want that new shirt you just spent your allowance on to last, you need to take care of it.”  Caring for their own clothes can teach preteens more than just laundry skills; it can help them develop responsibility.

3.)    Changing a Flat Tire and Simple Car Maintenance

Let’s face it: it’s not just a helpful skill to know, it encourages self-sufficiency.  These are not the times when I want my son or daughters dependent on the kindness of strangers to fix a flat.

4.)    How to Plan and Prepare a Meal

Like car maintenance, planning meals is a routine chore of every household.  Preteens cannot appreciate or learn the process without getting involved.  Given the epidemic of childhood obesity and the pennies most of us have to pinch, it’s a good idea to show a budding adolescent that it’s all a little more complicated than it looks.

a. Get out the recipe book.  Mandate that the novice chef model the family dietary recommendations.  Emphasis nutrition.  Set a limited number of vegetables and a maximum number of calories.  Remind them why it’s important to eat well.  Let them research how much work is involved in choosing and making a meal.  Whatever their attempts taste like, it will help them appreciate what the usual house chefs go through every night.

b. Set the budget.  Have them write a grocery list and accompany you to the store.  Insist they keep to the budget.  Encourage them to make the choice between generic pasta and no-label ice cream.

c. Make meal.  Celebrate the attempt and choke down whatever they serve.  Fair is fair, it’s what we ask of them.  You might even offer to do the dishes.

5.)    Family Drug/Alcohol Policy

No one likes the cliché, “If you don’t talk to your kids about drug and alcohol, someone else will,” but it is nonetheless true.  What will be your family action plan for alcohol/drug policies?

a. Educate yourself and each other as a family.  Talk about drugs and what is and is not acceptable under your family model.

b. Draft and ratify a Family Drug/Alcohol Policy and have all members of family sign it.  Post it in the house to remind everyone what they agreed to.  Consider the following items to include:  Definition of drugs, list of drugs that are and are not acceptable, specific consequences for use (first offense, second offense, etc.) Pledge not to drive with impaired individuals (all); Pledge to pick up family members, no questions asked, if they call for a ride in lieu of getting in the car with someone with whom they do not feel safe, etc.

6.)    Family Crisis Plan

It doesn’t take the war in Iraq to document that these are uncertain times.  Humans are fragile creatures.  All times in the history of time were uncertain.  None of us are immune to challenge, but as families we can plan for what might come so that if it does, we can stand united:

a. Smoke alarms, family escape plan, family meeting place and fire drills.

b. Plan what to do if one is separated from the family in a crisis.

c. Organize back-ups; make certain the entire family knows the name, number and address of an emergency contact person.

d. Store provisions handy in the event of big snow storm, bad weather or unexpected events.  It always makes good sense to have batteries, water and a store of canned goods on hand.  Make a family project day out of organizing provisions.  Consider launching neighborhood focus group together.

We can’t protect our preteens from all the temptation, challenge and pain that is out there, but we can equip them with the survival skills of critical thinking and life-skills so they enter their teenage years with tools. Feeling unprepared for what the world demands of us is an Hallelujah breaker at any age.

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

There’s a Pandora’s Box full of questions that escape once the colloquialism lipstick is appropriated as an adjective that may be applied to other groups. (Please see Lipstick for list of possible associations.)

One of the most obvious questions we already considered, i.e. Why do we presume group affiliation by an individual’s appearance?

Perhaps a more compelling question is why are we suspect of each other’s affiliations? In John Irving’s The World According to Garp, the infamous nurse, Jenny Fields, asserts that she is a sexual suspect because as a woman she rejects conventional marriage, and also chooses to raise a child on her own. Fields goes on to write her memoirs in an autobiography and becomes a celebrated, feminist icon. This social compulsion we have to suspect each other seems to have a lipstick link as clear as a blood stain on white linens.

First, consider that an unsavory connotation lurks beneath the adjective lipstick: “Being able to pass.”

Secondly, ponder that the majority economic and political stakeholder is still (and for 200+ American years running) a white, heterosexual male.

I surly don’t want to pass for any color of man, regardless of his orientation. I also reject all those gestalt, default boxes society uses to categorize un/married woman (of a certain look or age) that often include whore, dyke and bitch. Please note, in all derogatory cases the sexual suspicion.

I fear I sound silly, but reconsider the list below:

lipstick Pro Choice
lipstick Democrat
lipstick Pro Life
lipstick Republican
lipstick racist
lipstick homophobe
lipstick misogynist
lipstick liberal
lipstick conservative
lipstick Soccer Mom
lipstick alcoholic
lipstick philanthropist
lipstick rapist
lipstick friend
lipstick Christian

Under the litmus of suspicion, I also wouldn’t want to pass as a racist, homophobe, misogynist, alcoholic, or racist even if I look like one.

And that’s just a response to the loathsome idea of being judged as a group member clearly abhorrent… How awful would it be for Christians or philanthropists were a brutish pig to pass as one of their own?

Contradictions aside, I never outgrew my academic inclinations… I don’t want to pass, I want to excel. I wanna be Valedictorian, baby.

What blisters is the social, hierarchal judgment: It’s deemed better to be male than female. It’s deemed better to be white than a person of color. It’s deemed better to be straight than gay.

If simply being who we are was good enough, we wouldn’t have the linguistic ability to express the idea of lipstick or being able to pass.


People looking at other people like they know what God they love, party they vote for, or folks they invite into their beds are absolute Hallelujah breakers.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

A Lipstick lesbian is commonly defined as a lesbian who doesn’t look like a lesbian. In its leanest form, the term means that one is a part of a category without being easily or visually indentified as part of that group. In other words, you can’t tell by looking at the outside of a person who she is or in what she believes in her heart.

Back to lesbians, for a minute, if I may, a lipstick lesbian may exhibit feminine gender attributes like wearing dresses or make-up (lipstick) that contradict popular stereotypes held of lesbians. This more broad view of the adjective “lipstick” makes me wonder to what other groups the term might apply and the implications of such designations.

(I imagine this word study could present a crazy-making proposition to many great individuals of groups I am about to name, and the lesbian community at large that I’ve already identified as the contemporary source of the adjective lipstick. My only defense is to admit that I realized tonight that the term may also apply to me.)

So, if you choose to hang with me, my question asks to what other social subgroups the adjective lipstick might be used when operationally defined as: “one who cannot be easily or visually identified as a part of a group?”

Consider the following, and remember to contemplate the expected characteristics of each group identified negated by attributes or behaviors that would contradict the popular stereotypes of each listed party. In fact, ask yourself what would a non-card-member-carrying __________________ look and act like? In other words, lipstick it!:

lipstick Christian
lipstick Pro Choice
lipstick Democrat
lipstick Pro Life
lipstick Republican
lipstick racist
lipstick homophobe
lipstick misogynist
lipstick liberal
lipstick conservative
lipstick Soccer Mom
lipstick alcoholic
lipstick philanthropist
lipstick rapist
lipstick friend

Clearly, the catalogue could go on and on, and I am certain you get my point.
One cannot tell from outward appearance what in dwells in another’s heart.
One cannot represent ones heart through outward allegiance or appearance.

“…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
<< 1 Samuel 16:7 >>

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

I’d always wanted a pair of Frye boots.

I’ve been through a lot of beauty accident in my days.  I’ve donned pearls, an unfortunate tattoo, and Salvation Army fat pants.  My young married life included lots of gestation and lactation.  Not all of my choices made great sense or good hair, but given all of the hormones, very few held it against me or said that I looked trashy, post partum or ridiculous.

(The jury was lenient.)

Four rotations through maternity clothes and so much suction on remarkably modest breasts left me with nipples that could only point South, but I’d always wanted me a pair of Frye boots!

For my birthday last Summer, The Husband shocked me with my very first and only every pair of Frye boots.  That he did so during a recession that still siphons our reserves and blisters our future made them all the more glamorous to me.

As it happened, the boots arrived just before a family celebration of a beloved patriarch’s 80th birthday.  I rocked those boots in a little, red, peasant dress, and never once during the entire party choked on the reality that my husband could lose his job at any moment.

Those Frye boots made me feel tall and proud.  They were boots meant for walking.

I loved them.  As much as I loved them, however, they were a constant struggle to get on and off.  Getting the right boot on was hard, but getting it off involved a process much like the inverse of trying to zip out-grown skinny jeans.  I would have to lie down while The Husband yanked and yanked and yanked.  I was grateful not to have ever sprained an ankle.  By the time we decided they were defective, it was way past the time we thought it was reasonable to return them.

However, my geeky husband had ordered them from Zappos because he learned through research that they were renowned for their Customer Service.

Over a year after he had ordered them, The Husband called Zappos and explained that the boots were difficult to get on and off.  Their only concern was why we had not called sooner.  He explained that we thought that they would loosen up… and we did.  Part of the Frye boot legacy is that they are the most comfortable footwear you can own.

Zappos not only 24 hour shipped me a pair of new boots, but a week later, they sent a HANDMADE card with good wishes and their hopes that I was enjoying them.

zappos card front

zappos card inside

Exceptional Customer Service doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Businesses that lift the bar of Mitzphah (See Mitzphah if you aren’t sure what I mean) lift Hallelujah!

Thank you, Zappos!

I rejoice in unexpected and undeserved acts of human kindness!

Zappos rocks, and gave me boots that not only were meant for walking, but DANCING ahead, ’cause somebody’s got my back.

Let me serve those with whom I intersect today as well as Zappos!

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song in my new Frye boots
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Soccer Saturdays are as concrete part of our family rhythm as laundry, homework, and school fund raisers.  Our city’s soccer organization operates upon a caste system as distinct as Hinduism.  There are not only levels of teams (Express, Metro, Lightning Storm Travel, Challenge, Rec, and Hotshots), but levels among those levels, (Dad/Parent-coached established, Dad/Parent coached new, Community Volunteer with soccer experience, College student that cares, College student who volunteered to fill out community service box on application.)  There are good cleats and bad cleats, popular water jugs and pedestrian water bottles, good gadget ways to ratchet up your shirt sleeves, and ill-conceived methods to manage too big jerseys.  There’s even a hierarchy among snacks and popular treats and groaner ones.  For example, yesterday The Middle girl enjoyed oranges slices at half time (not top-shelf service, because they were sliced and served in a large bowl, and not individually portioned into baggies with baby wipes or moist towelettes for sticky hands), but, the after-game snack was premium:  Cliff Protein bars, individual cups of red, seedless grapes complete with lid, and cranberry juice.  One year one of my son’s coaches rented a Snow Cone truck and served four teams in the heat of a beautiful, May afternoon.  Soccer teaches our children a little bit about winning and losing, celebrating the excellence of others, perseverance and diversity.  The little city we live in takes soccer and our children pretty seriously.

As such, I imagined the satiric possibilities of how a little, old-fashioned parody could fuel a spoofed commentary about The Oldest Girl’s game Saturday…

‘Put me in, Coach!”

The game started normally enough.   Parents held Starbucks Vinti cups of quad sugar-free lattes like security blankets as they positioned canopied stadium chairs on the side lines of the field.  It promised to be a great game.  Against the backdrop of the Shenandoah mountains, two rival teams warmed up for a friendly game.

The ominous nature of haze as the sun burned away the first hint of Fall fog was lost on the assembled families who chatted breezily and compared game calendars.  Most parents assembled had at least one more game that day, and many would ferry assorted children to different fields for the next several hours.  The creep of another soccer Saturday had begun, and with coolers packed, families and friends settled in to watch.

The first hint that something might be amiss was heard before it was seen, “Faster!  You’ve got to run!  What are you waiting for?” yelled a Nordic voice above the pre-game side line prattle, “I said MOVE!” ordered the towering giant as he shepherded his team to the goal to practice shots.

Heads jerked up to identify the source of the disruption.  Some wives gripped their husbands’ wrists as others pointed excitedly toward the brute who continued at that very moment to scream at their daughters.

“No!” the coach bellowed at a cowering, 10 year-old striker whose shot had bounced off the post, “Do you need glasses?  You’ve got to aim your kicks!  We can’t score if you don’t keep your eyes on the target when you shoot!”

A minor scrimmage soon ensued on the side lines as a husband physically restrained his wife from charging the beast on the field.  Mamma Bear heat blazed from her eyes.   Many agree bloodshed was then and there spared only because her husband was able to pin her by the World Cup sweatshirt tied around her waist.

The ref whistled to clear the field and began his pre-game safety check for shin guards and jewelry.  This gave the families of both teams time to study the coach who had ignited the ruckus.  He was unusually big, not just tall, but massively built with muscles that clearly bulged under his grey Nike t-shirt.  He wore camouflage pants and combat boots that flattened the dew-wet grass beneath his feet like tanks.  He paced back and forth in front of his girls like a drill sergeant inspecting green recruits.  His cropped military flat top was a shocking straw blonde, and spiked stiff to stand up on his head like a bed of nails.  A silver skull and crossbones ring glinted from the middle finger of his right hand and struck the morning sun like lightning that caused several of the scrutinizing parents to squint.

His girls fielded their positions like soldiers on a suicide mission.  They knew their orders, but everything about their slumped soldiers, heavy limbs and downcast eyes spelled defeat.    There was none of the joy or the bounce typical of ten-year old girls before a game.  They knew this was war and their very survival depended on whether or not they could crush the opposing team before their rabid coach swallowed their hope whole.   The smell of fear mixed with the coffee already in the air into a dreadful blend of stimulants.

It began well for the giant’s team as Team Giant scored quickly in the first few moments of the game.  The girls on his team visibly relaxed after their quick looks shot toward their bench confirmed that the giant was indeed smiling.  His posture was open and relaxed, “Thank you, girls!  Good!”

This momentary sense of normalcy calmed the parents on the sidelines also.  Though they did not approve, of course, they discussed among themselves that the pre-game antics must have been some kind of motivational stunt to encourage the girls.  Even the most irritated of the fathers doused their flames after they promised each other they would give the giant a good talking-to after the game if he ever talked to his girl like that again. They settled back into their canvas thrones as their girls played on, their comfortable sense of order restored.

Unfortunately for all assembled, the opposing team soon scored.  The cheers of parents was interrupted by the giant’s scream, “You idiot!” He spat at the goalie, “Didn’t you see her coming?  You’ve got to move toward the ball!  You’ve got to move to block the ball!”

The ref looked like he was going to choke on his whistle.  All of fourteen, ain’t nothing in his Soccer Manual prepared him for such an insulting diatribe from a coach toward his own player.  All he had in his pouch was a yellow card, and a red card, a well chewed pencil stub and a notebook.  His pimpled face blanched as indecision crawled across his cheeks to compete with the anxiety blush already there.

The young ref was in good company.  No one seemed to know what to do in response to the giant’s invective.   As no one interceded from the now still field, the ref timidly signaled the game to continue.

Team Giant never recovered.  The girls shut down and literally flinched if the ball came in their general vicinity.  This was a team of draftees.  Not one player ever uttered, “Put me in, Coach!” to the giant  No one wanted to touch the ball or inspire the giant’s wrath.

Their reserve was warranted.  The giant soon began a constant rant when his team was down by two,

“No Bambie, you stupid klutz, you’ve got to kick it with the side of your foot!

Move up on the ball!  Move up on the ball, Barbie!  What are you waiting for?  It won’t come to you; you’ve got to go get it!

Oh, my God, Lamb, cover her!  Cover her, she’s wide open!  Shoulder up; knock the stupid cow down if you have to!

Look at her!  Look up, Dovey, look up!  Get her!  I want you to kill her!”

Spittle mustached the giant’s face in a soul patch of rage.  He balled his fists tight against brass-knuckle fury.  He clenched his teeth so tightly that between shouted expletives the parents on the side-lines, rising now from their chairs en masse, could hear his teeth grind.

‘You little pig!  What kind of stupid whore raised you?” he challenged as one of his team members fumbled a corner kick?

Gasps cut the ref’s whistle short as a lone Mamma stormed the field wielding a Revlon nail file like a cleaver.

“I’ll kill you for that!” hissed the Capri-clad middle-aged lady with a Mommy hair cut.  Her speed was shocking for a large woman in flip flops, and she beat all of the fathers who had joined her charge across the field.

“You’re a monster!” she roared as she arched back her arm and slammed the file into the yellow flecks of the giant’s bulging, blue, right eye.

The giant staggered on his feet as he groped his wounded eye.  Blood and ooze painted his skull ring with gore.

The fathers were soon upon him like an angry mob.  Suddenly the venue switched from a soccer match to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.  There was no doubt as to who would be sacrificed.

The crowd stoned him with everything they could throw.  The giant was pummeled under a hail of Intak water jugs, Puma cleats, Coleman coolers, Mac Sports folding canopy chairs, Gatorade bottles and Futsal soccer balls.  Fathers lined up their girls to kick the slain beast in the head, ribs and balls.

As he lay there dying, the giant smiled up toward the sky.  A clotted indictment bubbled from his torn, moist lips, “You want them to win easily, and never consider what it might cost, or that they might get their feelings hurt.”

Taking a u12 soocer game too seriously (when you have three other games to get to that same day) is an Hallelujah breaker!

(This was a spoof, I didn’t come to fool you…)

And even though it wall went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

For those of you who don’t know, Mamma Grok (see Word Study, A Shout Out to Teachers for back story on her awesomeness) is a huge vessel of light, love, wisdom and a swift kick in the attitude when I most need it.  A friend this week described her as, “Doing a constant ministry all around her.”  She knows when to till and when to harvest, when to carry a meal and when to offer a hug, when to console and when to boot you in the butt.  She will always know more than me, but never preaches.

Last week we sat at a well together among a forest of mighty oaks, and talked about the word law.  Mamma Grok is a Word Study guru and loves her some etymologies.  Under the shade of sweet sister trees, Mamma Grok pulled up the Hebrew roots of law.  As fellowship wind caressed our faces like sprite spirits of light, Mamma explained that the term mitzvah comes from the teachings of Judaism.  To mitzvah, she explained, expresses obedience to God’s law through acts of human kindness. According to Jewish Teachings, all moral laws are derived from divine commandments.  An oft quoted abridgement of the Torah is this, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it,” (Shabbat, 31a).  As such, Mamma Grok naturally advises me to seek opportunities to mitzvah, to provide service for others.

Being Mamma Grok, she leads by example.  The Boy, three days down in the potty with an expressive GI bug decides it’s fun karma to infect The Mamma when The Papa is out of town for a week.  The girls, however, still needed to eat, get to soccer, complete their homework assignment and go to church.  In fact, and of course, this week hosted Promotion Night, and the girls were to be recognized with shiny badges and pressed sashes for all their hard work.  Quite simply, I was too sick to get them there, and too heart sick to tell them they couldn’t go.  I called Mamma Grok and she thanked me for asking and giving to her the joy of taking them with her.    (MITZVAH!)  That’s Mamma Grok in a nutshell; she reveals the character of God through her relationships, and chooses to live according to the Law of Love.  Surly Psalm 2 was sung over her cradle at her birth; dance joyful mitzvah, dance!

So, once I was able to lift my own face from the porcelain, I emailed her with my thanks.  My girls still smile over the joyful dance of their time together.

Mamma Grok, being who she is, replies:

The name Jael – broken down in to Ja – el …

“Ja” in my tongue [South African] means “yes”

“El” is the Hebrew for God

So, Ja-el = Yes God!

Whatever You give me, yes God!

Whatever You bring on my road, yes God!

Whatever You tell me, yes God!

Whatever You tell me to do, Yes God!!

Wherever You send me, yes God!

Yes, God! Yes, God! Yes God!

Let there be light…..”

Let there be Hallelujah!

Yes, God!  Yes!

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

I’m screaming in my head now.  Can’t they hear me?

God I’m cold!  Are they deaf?  (See Maternal Coat to hear why I’m chilly.)

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah!

I thought that this meant only the best attendings would be doing those jobs.  Our experience in the heart cath lab the next morning made me aware that despite my best attempts to make our wishes for The Oldest Girl’s care clear, a miscommunication had occurred.  When The Oldest Girl’s cardiologist explained the heart catherization procedure, he noted that parents usually were asked to say goodbye to their children in their rooms because parents were not allowed in the cath lab.  This seemed more a rule of convenience rather than a necessary regulation.  I worked with the anesthesiologist who came to obtain our consent for the procedure for special permission for my husband and I to walk down with The Oldest Girl to the cath lab, and to remain present while she fell asleep.  We wanted to be with her to help her to stay calm, and to enjoy every moment we could have with her.  We did not know how she would respond to intubation or how long she would remain intubated, and knew that while intubated, we would not be able to hold her.

It turned out to be very fortuitous that I advocated for this exception to the rules.  Had I not, my expressed wishes for her care would have been denied.  The Oldest Girl’s heart cath was scheduled for 10:00 a.m.  At 11:30 a.m., after anxiety had bitten my throat with hungry tin fear the entire morning, we were informed that the delay was because the lab was waiting for the pediatric anesthesiologist who specialized in infant airways to arrive from another hospital.  Although I was frustrated by the wait, I was comforted that the best person available was going to perform The Oldest Girl’s intubation.  Shortly before noon, we were called to bring The Oldest Girl to the lab for her angiogram.  Initially, everything was cordial and dovetailed my expectations.  The heart cath nurse personified compassion as she introduced us to everyone and briefly oriented us to the room.  The attending anesthesiologist for whom we had waited reiterated the intubation procedure, and reminded us that we would not be allowed to remain after she fell asleep.  He then directed us to the procedure table and asked us to lay The Oldest Girl down.  When I did so, I noticed a young doctor, already in gloves at the head of the table.  The anesthesiologist introduced him as a senior resident.  Confusion heated my discomfort as I asked the attending who was going to perform The Oldest Girl’s intubation.  He did not answer me directly; instead he employed circumlocution to assure me that his expertise would be brought to bear.  In the beat that followed, he walked around the table to the medication tray to retrieve the syringe that would facilitate The Oldest Girl’s sleep.  My mind was a thunderstorm in the thirty odd seconds it took him to do so.  Competing thoughts struck across its sky and forebode danger.

Each thought flashed behind my eyes like lightning.  I knew I had to decide whether or not to challenge him, and I realized how little time I had.  I wanted to speak, yet felt that familiar good-girl pull to be quiet and respectful.  I felt betrayed by a system that had only given lip service to my requests about The Oldest Girl’s care.  I was worried if I spoke out that I would anger the team who, in moments, would be performing a procedure on my daughter’s heart and that their anger might breed mistakes.  I was concerned that other parents would not be able to enter the cath lab with their children if I handled the dynamic badly or caused a scene.  I was terrified that if I didn’t speak up that something bad might happen to The Oldest Girl.  I was painfully aware that the only reason they were intubating at all was because they were not certain how well her already compromised respiration would respond to anesthesia.  And I had ten more seconds to make up my mind.  I was her only lightning rod.  I knew I had to speak.  We had waited over an hour and a half for the best person available to arrive for the procedure and it was clear that even though he was in the room, he did not plan to perform the intubation.  The choice then was a simple one.  If the hospital had decided that we could not proceed in his absence, we could not proceed with the intubation if he was not the one to do it.  If the hospital had determined that the senior resident could not perform the procedure without him present, I certainly did not want him practicing his technique on my daughter’s uncertain airway.

“Sir,” I interjected as he completed his trip around the table and had positioned himself next to the senior resident at my girl’s head, “I want you to do it.”

“You don’t have to worry,” his elocution dismissed again, “we have it under control.”

“Sir,” I interjected again, this time with more force, “I’m telling you that I want you to do it,” I asserted, and this time, I looked directly into the attending’s eyes so there could be no mistake that I meant it and I meant him.

“I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal,” I said, this time looking into the senior resident’s eyes, “I only have one The Oldest Girl.”

The resident had not played enough of this type of poker to keep his frustration from his face.  He was pissed.  He wanted this procedure.  Neither he nor the attending acknowledged what I had said.  The resident asked for a mask, the attending injected the IV and she fell into a paralyzed sleep.  We were asked to leave.  Knowing that they only had minutes to perform the intubation before she was in jeopardy, I quickly kissed her forehead, took my husband’s hand and walked out of the room without knowing who would perform the procedure or how The Oldest Girl would be.

“Are you alright,” I heard a kind voice ask as we exited, “do you know your way back?”  I turned to see that the cath lab nurse had followed us out of the room.  “I promise I’ll make sure that he does it,” she comforted.

I was so numb by what had just happened that her words did not register.  “Did you hear what she said?” my husband asked.  “She promised.”

“Do you promise he’ll do it?” I asked, locking eyes with hers like keys to a promise, “I’m not trying to be a jerk, she’s my only daughter.”

“I would feel exactly the same way,” she assured me with eyes as soothing as her voice, “I’ll make sure he does it. ”

“Thank you,” was all I had time to say as she hurried back into the room.

I felt anesthetized myself as we returned to The Oldest Girl’s room to await news.  Like an old-fashioned switchboard, I was on overload.  My circuits could not handle one more incoming demand and I began to shut down.  It was not until the floor nurse relayed the initial report back from the cath lab that I started to feel again.  The first thing the cath lab nurse said in her message was to tell mom the attending did it.  Relief washed over me like a tide.  We were also assured that our girl was fine, but that access to the heart valves was proving difficult.  While we waited for the next update, I talked to my floor nurse about what we had experienced down in the lab.  She hypothesized that the reason the mix up happened was because the cardiology service is independent of the anesthesiology service, and that the information was not passed from one group of The Oldest Girl’s caregivers to another.  She said that I was the best insurance that my wishes about The Oldest Girl’s care were known to all of her doctors.  She helped me formalize and articulate a family treatment plan for The Oldest Girl’s care.  One stipulation required that we be informed who was doing procedures on The Oldest Girl before they occurred. Another stated that we did not give consent to medical students, interns or residents to do procedures on her.  I did not want another protocol misunderstanding to occur in my absence, like in the operating room where I would not be allowed to follow The Oldest Girl’s care personally.

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue (cuz the family treatment plan’s in writing, baby)but Hallelujah!