Confession

Last Saturday, Gabe asked if he could spend the night at his friend’s house. I said yes. I asked how many kids were going to be there, but just because I wanted to know. He said most of the freshman football team.

I drove him there. I let the dad show me around the property. I saw the theater room where they were all going to sleep. I made a joke about what that room would smell like come morning.

I never once thought about COVID.

The first kid tested positive Monday afternoon, when those 14 kids were at weight-lifting, baseball, basketball and track. By Tuesday, the host kid was sick and two more had been tested. When Gabe slept until 10 am on Wednesday (he was quarantined from school), I had a sinking feeling. Sure enough, his temp hovered between 99 and 101 all day long and yesterday the test came back positive.

He is the 7th positive from the party.

We have been so careful. I have been loud about those who were not careful. I counted the months of vigilance proudly, and when it came time to vaccinate, you know we did.

In fact, Gabriel got his first shot Saturday morning.

No matter. COVID came anyway, because we were dumb. We didn’t see it through. Like we climbed Mt Everest, but jumped off the Hillary Step.

Yes, the grown ups in our family and circle of friends are all vaxxed and that’s a blessing. But our county is currently rocking a 44% vaccinated rate so there are plenty–too many–unvaccinated folks out there.

I have opinions about their choice to not vaccinate, but I do not want my teenager to carry the weight of someone’s death because he went to a sleepover.

It’s enough that his other friends are mad that because they sat next to him in class on Monday, they have to quarantine–and miss baseball playoffs and track districts this weekend. We had to postpone Annie’s already postponed birthday party and she’s missing her last soccer game. Kate’s friend–whose brother was also at the sleepover–postponed her birthday party. It’s more than the fact that Gabe got COVID–his fever already broke and he feels fine again–but that the implications ripple out and out and out.

We are so, so close to being done. Heading into the big holiday weekend, it will be tempting to throw caution to the wind. I’m saying don’t. Listen to Yogi:

Did You Make Space for a New Creation?

We are coming out of a hot, spicy nightmare right now into a new creation.

Are we ready?

We should have been making space–space in our souls, space in our hearts, space in our time and relationships and jobs for the new creation that we are promised to flood into our lives.

Don’t tell me nothing really changed in the last year. How could that even be possible? All those prayers you threw up for time to fix and heal and get healthy and God gave you a year. You used it, right?

And even if you didn’t, you will, because we are not ruining the new creation with the old crap.

Let me give you some examples.

You know that side of the family you hate to see because they drink too much or they’re mean or racist or belligerent or their kids suck but you always invite them because…family? Well you haven’t seen them in a year, haven’t missed them and the basic family structure is still intact. Are you going to go back to loud, angry, drunken Thanksgivings? Heck, no. We don’t ever have to do that again.

How about that passive aggressive friendship with the mom from school where you hang out more because of proximity than kindred spirit and she makes you crazy anyway? Are you going back to weekly gossip coffee dates? Nope. Sorry, my schedule has changed and our kids have moved on. See you around.

How about money? Did you cut back on all the things to save money during job furlough or loss? When the jobs come back, are you just going to go back to living paycheck to paycheck so your family can have all the things again? No–we have a future to plan for. We lived without a lot this year and didn’t miss most of it.

What about that job that you now know you can do from home, and better. Are we going back to giving our whole lives to our jobs, working an 8, 9, 10 hour day because someone 70 years ago decided that was necessary and showed initiative? Thank you, no–we’re going to negotiate something better.

What about your kids and school? Was distance learning a relief for them? Like water on a thirsty plant, did it cause them to grow and blossom? Then are you going to send them back to the way we have always done things? Of course not–we have empowered our kids to learn from home.

(Not mine, though. Mine need to take all that angst and energy, walk right out the front door to the bus that will take them to the school where the person who manages all that angst and energy is well-trained, well-prepared and not me)

Are you going to pass that holiday phone from granny to auntie to uncle to cousin so everyone gets a chance to talk to the family out of state on Christmas? No way–you’re going to fire up that Zoom meeting, cast it onto the big screen and have dessert together from 2000 miles away.

We are going to live stream football games and volleyball games and plays and concerts and recitals. We are going to live stream church services and baptisms and First Communions and weddings and funerals. Being forced apart taught us how to be closer, it pushed us past boundaries we didn’t even know we had, it made us innovate. And it is just the beginning.

The sorrow and struggle were real, as were the cost, which has been folded into our collective subconscious. We cannot forget the lessons the last year have taught us.

But the new creation is here and it is God’s Providence, to make all for our good. We just have to put away the things of yesterday, open the door and step out into the light of a new day.

There was a post on Facebook asking what everyone was going to give up for Lent. A woman posted “I don’t think I have the bandwidth this year. I’m just going to try and be a patient mom and get everyone through this.”

When I tell you that I felt this in my bones, I mean that I levitated off my bed. For the rest of my life I will be jealous that I did not say it first: Lent 2021 is cancelled.

Mostly because Lent 2020 NEVER ENDED.

For a year we have been victims of not only this illness, but the jackasses around us, which also forced a roll call over this question: WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY?  My whole life I’ll never forget the way they forced us to sacrifice meaningful life events at the altar of their self-righteousness and callous disregard for the lives of others.

We won’t get back the time we spent trying to reason with them before we realized we were throwing good words after bad into a giant wind tunnel of stubborn, willful, privileged ignorance.

I am joking about this, kind of, because if I really opened up it would overwhelm me.

I know how serious it has been, every day since this time last year. I see the numbers of dead. I know that we are still in it, which means we have not yet begun to reap what was sown in the hearts and psyches of the first responders, medical personnel, teachers, parents. Our kids. The decision makers who just tried to do what was right with the information they had while the peanut gallery screamed for their heads on platters.

This is my point. Like the mom said, we are out of bandwidth. We have been sacrificing so long that we are numb to hope. I hear more and more people talking about “our new normal” like we are post- apocalypse and counting down to the zombies. A traditional Lent with a focus on guilt, denial and sin could push us into despair.

So, nuh-uh. Not doing it. Maybe you can. Go along then.

But over here, we will turn our faces to the light. Easter is coming and our Lenten reflection will be this: Our great, glorious, loving, mighty and ever-faithful God is God in the valley AND on the mountains.

And after a long, scary, tense and uncertain year, we are climbing, sisters.

Vote for Hope

In 2017, 6 days after the inauguration of President Trump, I came here to write about my concerns for our country under his leadership.  I was scared because the new administration seemed to be so uninformed  about the beauty of the constitution and the workings of the government.   I asked you to join me in lighting a candle in your window to signify HOPE for the leadership of our government to put the people of the US and the world first over personal gratification and demagoguery. 

Right before the midterm elections I again wrote requesting that all like minded people continue with the candle in the window, but I also encouraged you all  to vote, to encourage everyone else  to vote and to support the candidates who would put duty first over the pursuit of wealth or popularity.

Now we are in a major crisis.  As of today, October 30,  2020, almost 240,000 people have died from a virus that was trivialized and ignored.   Once it made its  ugly presence known we realized that we were totally unprepared.  The greatest country in the world did not have enough masks, gowns and respirators to keep our health care workers and patients safe.  We cannot provide enough testing to assure who is safe to work and who isn’t.  The federal government alternates from making national pronouncements about behavior to abdicating responsibility to the governors of the states, then insulting them for taking needed measures for control of the situation.   The President releases from duty or fires any person who criticizes or questions his orders.  There is no one in charge who seems to understand the seriousness of the situation.  Again, it seems that our President is reading the first sentence of the report and ignoring the rest of the important information

The election is tomorrow.  So I ask you again to please put your candle back in the window to symbolize HOPE.  Hope that the world working together will find a cure for this pandemic.  Hope that our people will have sufficient food and necessities to get through this situation.  And as a reminder that we all must take seriously our duty to vote for the best candidate, one who is honest and thoughtful, who will choose a strong Cabinet and surround himself with those who understand that the US and the world need to work together for the good of all nations not only in this terrible situation  but in every daily activity.

Why the high five tunnel needs to go

I knew we were in trouble when she spent three minutes telling me how she just wanted her team to have fun.

I remembered her from last year–she just wanted the kids to have fun then too, which meant playing her two best players the whole game and objecting when we stopped her team’s breakaway because it was happening on the field next to ours. “It’s just for FUN!” she yelled.

On Saturday she said “Gosh, they’re only seven.”

When I was seven, I won my first President’s Cup. When Gabe was seven, he lost his (it was five years ago and the details are hazy, but it was something like: the ref, who had a grandson on the other team, allowed an extra minute of play in which the other team scored the tying goal and then he awarded a pk in OT on an incidental handball).

One of my players has scored 15 goals in two games—four of them left footed and one that she pegged out of the air as it flew across the front of the goal. I don’t have to ask her to back off in the second half—she hangs back on defense all on her own. She’s seven.

One of my players hates it when the other team scores so much that she chased down a breakaway last week, waited til the other player slowed down to shoot and ran her off the ball. Then she cleared the ball to the sideline, not the goal line, because throw-ins are better than corners. She’s seven.

A girl on the other team saved a breakaway by grabbing my player by her jersey, allowing her teammate to steal the ball. Her coach told her never to do that again. I told her next time don’t get caught. She smiled at me because she knew I knew.  She’s seven.

My own daughter buried her head in my hip and burst into tears at halftime—because she’d only scored one goal. She’s seven.

So they’re not only seven. They’re already seven. And a meat-eater is a meat-eater they day she is born.

After the game, we shook hands and my girls went for their snacks. “Hey,” Just-For-Fun called “Don’t you do the high five tunnel?” This is where the parents make a tunnel and the kids run through it all together after the game. Fun and necessary for four and five year olds.  Last Spring, my team decided it was dumb. At the end of the game, they want one thing: snack.

“We don’t” I told her.

“Really? Why not?” she asked incredulously.

I shrugged. “They don’t like it. They’re seven.”

“Right, ” an outraged voice belonging to the dad coaching on the field next to us piped in.  “They’re only seven.”

“Yeah, you know they do the high five tunnel with the 5th graders, right?” Just-For-Fun said.

“Right,” random coach dad said, shaking his head at me. “Wow. Whatever.”

I didn’t say any of the words in my head.  

But I did watch her team run the high five tunnel, game completely forgotten.

Then I watched one of my girls Facetime her mom at work to tell her she’d scored twice. I watched another get an up in the air hug from her dad for a pull back move she used to change direction and break away.  I watched Annie kick dirt over to Shea with a puss on her face because she didn’t play the way she wanted to play. I didn’t have to hear it to know that the man I married honored her frustration by saying “Ok. What are you going to do better next time?”

And I thought What a load of BS.

This sports parenting culture that asks the meat-eaters to make themselves smaller so no one else feels badly is ridiculous.  So is flatline parenting—we can’t eliminate the highs and lows. We have to teach kids to negotiate them. And don’t even get me started on random guy popping off from the other sideline. This isn’t Facebook, friend. You don’t get to comment.

Beware the parents who are so intent on manufacturing every emotion their child feels that they will even try to control other people’s kids. Which is what Just-For-Fun coach really wanted—for my team to act like winning wasn’t important so that her team would feel better about losing.

I’m not doing that. We won 11-4. I played all eight players the same amount of time. Four of them scored. We don’t need the high five tunnel–we had lots of fun all on our own.