December 30, 2010

My Daughter, The Jet-Setter

In an effort to give my very wonderful, very tired and very pregnant wife a little bit of time to herself to sleep and continue incubating the future baby, which I'm sure she will use to run herself ragged doing chores that may or may not need to be done, I piled the current baby into the car and drove out to visit my mother.

The first long trip with Harper in a big girl car seat was a moderate success. She's still small enough that she looks like Jack sitting in the armchair of the giant. I'm not 100%, but I don't think she likes it. When she sits in the chair, she slumps over the side and stares off into space, as if contemplating a time when she will have parents who not put her in such embarrassing situations. If the other babies see, she'll have to change her name and move to Peru. This prospect makes her even more depressed because not only can she not speak Spanish, she doesn't know how to do high-altitude farming. On the plus side, she will be near lots of llama, which will remind her fondly of her mother and grandmother and their near obsessive propensity for knitting everything that even slightly resembles yarn. (You should see the amazing spaghetti scarf I got for Christmas! Warm AND tasty, although a bit monochromatic...)

If you watch Harper in the car seat for any length of time, you can see all of these thoughts wash over her face as she constantly internally debates the merits and drawbacks of becoming an ex-pat.

In order to give her the chance to eat something, stretch her legs and be reminded of all of the wonderful reasons to stay in the country, we paused at a haven of pure American essence; a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We ventured inside for a diaper change because I had not had one since we left the house several hours earlier.

I let her walk around inside for a bit and it turned out to be a baby convention! There were at least four other babies, all younger than her, in the seating area. Harper made her rounds, introducing herself to each in turn and attempting to strike up conversations regarding the finer points of high-chair use and the ever increasing prices of foreign imports. Only one young man, a seemingly well-bred 7-month-old named Colin, wished to engage her in conversation. He made interesting counter-points to her arguments by hopping up and down and concluded by drooling on himself.

Tired of the discussion, Harper wished to return to the car to eat snacks in peace. She told me later that she found him immature and pedantic. We sat in the car for a while and talked. She enjoyed the passenger seat.

She was SO pleased to be in the front that she loudly voiced her displeasure of being returned to her own seat. For the rest of the drive.

Upon reaching my mother's house, she proceeded to climb up and down the stairs for 45 minutes. She also found a seat that fits her much more comfortably.


Time for a daddy nap...

December 17, 2010

My Daughter, The Stuff of Nightmares

It is 3:30 in the morning and I am typing this blog because I am afraid to go to sleep. I was tossing and turning so I moved out to the couch around 11:45. That's when things got bad.

I had two horrible dreams in a row. In the first, several of my students found where I lived and showed up in the middle of the night. They didn't cause any damage, but they came and wanted to talk. They wouldn't leave and when I finally got two of them out, we couldn't find the third. This was upsetting but what was more disconcerting was that in the dream, I had been laying on the couch so it was difficult to tell that it was a dream. I woke up and had to walk through my house to make sure no one was there.

I went back to bed and fell asleep again only to be greeted by something far worse. The dream started out normal enough. There was a Greek king who kept an oversized bull in a dungeon below his palace. The bull had mythical powers embued upon him by the gods and the king had decided he had had enough and so he released the bull to be hunted and killed by the strongest and bravest of his warriors. Clearly, I was a spectator.

Somehow, this transitioned into a family dinner for Sara's family at some sort of lodge where I was notified that in order to make sure that Harper and Sara got to be together in Heaven for all eternity, Harper was going to be crucified before she was old enough to go down the wrong path.

Everyone was ok with this. I spent the dream trying to convince Sara through pleading, reason, emotional arguments, etc. that she shouldn't do this, but she had a glazed look in her eye and would not be convinced. She said that if I really wanted a child so badly, there was another on the way and I could just be patient. I stood behind cars so they couldn't go, I screamed at people, I wrestled Harper away from people, but nothing was working. More and more people kept showing up at the lodge so they could be present to watch Harper ascend. At some point, there was a discussion about the fact that I was just upset because I wouldn't be going to Heaven to see her and I was more than welcome to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. At another point, I got so angry with Sara that I tackled her to the ground so I could talk right into her face. It didn't seem odd at the time, but she had transformed into a different woman, one who looked very much like one of her aunts.

I woke up breathing heavily, decided I needed to be done with sleeping for the night. I got out of bed and stood sobbing in the kitchen. At what, I'm not really sure. It could have been the dream, it could have been the fact that I am becoming more and more concerned about my own mental state, it could be due to the fact that this may have been the worst week of my teaching career; it just won't seem to end and even at home, in the safety of my own bed, I can't escape the stress that it has been causing me.

I need to take a moment here to state that I know Sara would NEVER under any circumstances, attempt to sacrifice our daughter. She is the greatest mother that our little girl could ever have. She is an amazing wife and I don't deserve the love and devotion that she shows me. We do come from different backgrounds, but she has never asked me to convert and has made it clear that she never will. I have no fears of this happening. This week has taken its toll on me and my mental state. I have been distant, irritable (more than normal), and stand-offish. I am aware of these things and I have been making an effort to change them, taking a deep breath before I continue conversations, etc.

I have two weeks off from school and it seems that more than ever before, I will need them. I need to do some serious thinking about my teaching style as well as my attitude. I also need to exorcise from my head the image of Harper being bundled up and driven to a field containing a 3 foot cross surrounded by candles.

There are other pictures, but I'm a bit distracted at the moment.

December 14, 2010

My Daughter, The Girl With Homosexuals In Her Family

A few weeks ago, another teacher and I were approached by some students and asked if the school had a Straight-Gay Alliance. It doesn't and they expressed interest in starting one. The other teacher and I agreed that we would be willing to be the faculty sponsors of the club and the other teacher began looking into how to start one.

She contacted the national chapter of SGA and sent an e-mail to the principal, who ultimately has the final say-so. She got lots of valuable information from the national chapter and received no response to her e-mail to the principal. Yesterday she went to see him. When she walked into his office, he asked "Is this about the gay thing?"

He then told her in no uncertain terms that it would not happen while he was in charge of the school. His reasoning was that it was a slippery slope and it would open the door to all sorts of other clubs "such as a pot-smoking club." He stated that if she wanted there to be a club like this one, she would have to wait 3-4 years until he was no longer the principal. He made several other statements about why this could not happen but the teacher conveying the information to me was very emotional and I don't want to quote anything else out of context.

Aside from the extremely offensive linking of homosexuality and illegal activity, this is against the law. The Equal Access Act states that any school which receives federal funds and has at least one non-curriculum club (including sports teams), must allow for the creation of an SGA. Should the school refuse, they forfeit all federal money.

I am stunned by this interaction. Our school has several students who are openly gay or support LGBTQ lifestyles. The majority of the surrounding districts have a chapter of SGA or one of its incarnations. On top of all of this, the school has been promoting how we need to be more attentive to the needs of our students, going so far as to place posters all over the school that read "Whatever it takes, out students are worth it." We have also been on an anti-bullying kick as well.

The next step, which has been taken, was to inform the students who have interest in the club that they needed to propose the club themselves. The club must, by law, be initiated by the students and have at least one faculty advisor. School officials are not allowed to change the name of the club to something more "palatable."

As a non-tenured teacher, I am taking a very back seat to this particular debate. Normally, I would charge in, guns blazing, torches ready to burn every bridge in sight. This time, however, I'm planning to support the students 100% and see what happens. There is no point in my fighting for this if the students don't care enough to do it themselves.

I have spent my entire life in the presence of gays and lesbians. My parents were part of a couple group when I was growing up that consisted mainly of homosexual couples. All of my mom's friends from the Peace Corps are all gay. This seems so normal to me that I am always baffled when people give the response of "Oh yuck! Gays! Don't touch me!"

I've had numerous discussions with friends and coworkers about gay marriage, DADT and various other issues surrounding the homosexual lifestyle and community. I have yet to encounter an argument that doesn't essentially boil down to being scared of, or grossed out by, homosexuals.

The concept of "love the sinner, hate the sin" strikes me as well intentioned, but idiotic. I understand it for things such as poor behavior in children, but this implies that homosexuality is something that is chosen. During discussions of this nature, I often make the argument that 50 years ago, people looked on interracial marriage as a sin and didn't want blacks serving in the military. I'm usually countered that people can't choose to be black. I can't even begin to go into the fallacies of this argument.

I'd like to think that there is something behind all of this other than fear and hate, but I have yet to be presented with anything to the contrary.

Harper will be raised to embrace the differences in people. I hope to instill in her the value that it's how you treat other people that makes you a good or a bad person.

I don't understand why this is such a debated topic.

Perhaps my new argument in these discussions will be "Just because I think that you're hideous and the idea of you having sex with anyone, let alone your wife, fills me with repulsion and causes bile to rise in the back of my throat, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to do it."

Maybe not. That seems intolerant.



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