August 14, 2017

Still Standing

It seems I’m always late, always a half-click behind, and I hurriedly keyed in the code to pick up my then 3 year-old from childcare. Her teacher greets me and says There was a little bit of problem today.

I gulp hard: it seems my little girl came to the rescue of a classmate who was being teased, and evidently, she was pretty upset but the teacher calmed her down.

I could get on board with that type of problem. 

We talked about it on the way home. Her tiny voice strained as she choked back tears Mom, they just kept calling her [her classmate] a baby…and, and...it made me SO mad I just started screaming STOP, LEAVE HER ALONE!

To this day I can’t remember teaching her to do specifically that – to step in for kids who are being bullied. But in that moment, I just thanked God for sending her to us with that kind of heart and prayed she’d always carry that softness for others within her.

Over ten some-odd years later, she has.

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The chaos, horror and hatred of Charlottesville is a thick sticky blanket of shadowy darkness that's still lingering over me.
 
I’ve been trying to dissect what I’ve known for some time now: that hate and racism still pulsate throughout systems, media, songs – and people. I know this, and yet seeing it march down a street torches blazing, distorting faces with its ugly pride, send a chill down my spine.
 
I was tempted to break from the coverage when my now teen daughter walked in the room, but I left it on. She was appropriately disgusted and then nonchalantly said Oh yeah, that reminds me… and proceeded to tell me about how she and her uncle had vile words hurled at them earlier in the week.

Gravity pulled on my shoulders and a new level of exhaustion set in. I knew this day would come, had talked to her about it long before, but…dammit. Just dammit.
 
She was no worse for the wear and shrugged it off. Maybe our previous talks had worked a little too well.

Even as I kept my mama bear instinct at bay, I couldn't help but think If people knew this kind of stuff actually happens to people they know who walk a path different from theirs, they’d be outraged. Certainly, if they knew my daughter -- this sweet, funny and kind kid -- they’d want to stick up for her.
 
Like she stood up for her classmate all those years ago.

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Hours later, a 32-year-old woman who was a counter protester was killed in a terrorist attack spurred by the day’s rally.
 
My stomach twisted at the thought of that woman’s mother and the nightmare she was going through at that moment.

Was she remembering seeing the spark of her kid being a fighter for other kids? Was she thinking of her own nervousness when her daughter told her that she was headed to Charlottesville to stand up for what’s right?
 
 
We tell our kids to do the right thing, but I don’t know if we consider what the cost might be. I definitely didn’t all those years ago when I was thanking God for my daughter’s heart and asking Him to preserve it.
 
And I don’t know where we go from here, but maybe a start would be standing up for each other.

Not just for the sweet, funny and kind people we know, but also for the people we don't know who are exhausted daily simply from living because others who don't like their skin, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation make their life hard.
 
Chances are, those same people would stand up for us.