September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2020

9/11 tribute Mamacita says: I’m guessing that many most bloggers will be posting tributes today, and telling the blogosphere ‘where we were’ when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Here is mine. This is actually the nineteenth time I’ve posted this on 9/11, so if it seems familiar, you’re not crazy. Well, not on this issue, anyway.

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The morning began like any other; we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, and sat back down to watch Channel One News, which had been taped at 3:00 that morning in the school library, thanks to the timer. But Channel One News didn’t come on.

Channel One News, a news program aimed at teens, did not come on that day.

Instead, the secretary’s voice, over the intercom, told the teachers to “please check your email immediately.” We did. And we found out what had happened.

I scrolled down the monitor and read the end of the message. The superintendent had ordered all teachers to be absolutely mum all day about the tragedy. We were not to answer any questions from students, and we were especially not to offer any information to them.

The day went by in a blur. Many parents drove to the school, took their kids out, and brought them home. Between classes, frightened groups of students gathered in front of their lockers and whispered, gossiped, and cried, and begged us for information. By that time, the superintendent’s order had been seconded by the principals, and we were unable to give these terrified kids any information. In the computer labs, the MSN screens told the 8th graders the truth, but they, too, were instructed NOT to talk about it to the other students. Right, like THAT happened. The story was being repeated by 8th graders, and it was being told we’re-all-going-to-die style.

At noon, many of the students were picked up by parents and taken home or out for lunch. Those few who returned had a big tale to tell. The problem was, the tale was being told by children, and few if any of the facts were straight. The atmosphere in the building got more and more strained. We are only a few miles away from an immensely large Navy base, where ammunition and bombs are made, and we’ve always known it was a prime target, which means, of course, that we are, too. Many of my children’s parents worked there. The base was locked down and those parents did not come home that night.  Buses dropped children off at the empty, locked homes anyway.

frightened children

Administrative stupidity did this.

Reasonable questions were answered with silence, or the statement: “You’ll find out when you get home.”  This, to children who weren’t even sure they still had a home to get to.  A rumor mill can be a horrible thing.

This, added to all the rumors and gossip spread by children, turned my little sixth graders into terrified toddlers.

As teachers, we were furious and disgusted with the superintendent’s edict. We wanted to call all the students into the gym and calmly tell them the truth in words and ways that would be age-appropriate. We wanted to hug them and assure them that it was far away and they were safe. We asked for permission to do this, and it was denied. Our orders were ‘silence.’ We hadn’t been allowed to hug them for years, of course, but there are times and places when hugs ARE appropriate. No matter, the superintendent stood firm: no information whatsoever.  Other administrators in other school systems were doing it right – calling assemblies and explaining calmly to their terrified children exactly what had happened, and assuring the children that they were safe

Not our administrators.  “Tell them NOTHING” was their edict, and we had to follow it or face the consequences, and the consequences for insubordination in this school system are devastating.

The day went by, more slowly than ever a day before. The students grew more and more pale and frightened. We asked again, and again he stood firm that no information whatsoever was to be given out.

By the end of the day, the children were as brittle as Jolly Rancher Watermelon Stix.

A few minutes before the bell rang to send them home, a little girl raised her hand and in a trembling voice that I will never forget, asked me a question. “Please, is it true that our parents are dead and our houses are burned down?”

That was it. I gathered my students close and in a calm voice explained to them exactly what had happened. I told them their parents were alive and safe, and that they all still had homes to go to.

The relief was incredible. I could feel it cascading all through the room.

However.  Some of my children’s parents worked at the Navy Base.  Those parents were, of course, held at the base and not allowed to leave.  School buses delivered their children to locked, empty houses.

I was, naturally, written up for insubordination the next day, but I didn’t care. My phone had rung off the hook that night with parents thanking me for being honest with their children. That was far more important than a piece of paper that said I’d defied a stupid inappropriate order meted out by a man who belonged in the office of a used car lot, not in a position of power over children’s lives.

I'm the superintendent and I am stupid. Very, very stupid.

I’m the superintendent and I am stupid. Very, very stupid.

The next day at school, in my room, we listened to some of the music that had been ‘specially made about the tragedy. I still have those cd’s and I’ve shared them with many people over the past few years. It is true that kids cried again, but it was good to cry. It was an appropriate time to cry. We didn’t do spelling or grammar that day. There are times when the “business as usual” mindset simply is not appropriate.

I wish administrators would realize that kids are a lot tougher than we might think. Kids are also a lot more sensitive that we might realize. It’s an odd combination, and we as educators must try our best to bring the two ends of the emotional spectrum together and help these kids learn to deal with horrible happenings and still manage to get through the day as well as possible.

9/11 tribute torch

We will always overcome.

Ignoring an issue will not help. Morbidly focusing on an issue will not help. Our children are not stupid, and to treat them as such is not something that builds trust. Our children deserve answers to their questions.

How can we expect our children to learn to find a happy medium if we don’t show them, ourselves, when opportunities arise?

I’m still so very sorry, children, that I was forced to participate in that dreadful conspiracy of silence when just a few spoken words might have eased your minds.

September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2020.  God bless us, every one.

Coming Back from the Abyss

Mamacita says: I have done little but sew masks, monitor websites and answer questions, and care for Mom since mid-March and my poor house shows it. In happier news, instead of doing housework during today’s break from packing things up at Mom’s, I bought a cat bed, a scratching pad, and a gigantic litterbox. Because of reasons related to happiness instead of heartbreak, which in and of itself is a nice break. Next on my no-housework agenda: clean out my office since I’m working on the dining room table now – laptop on one end, sewing machine on the other end, which means we’re eating in the living room or standing at the sink which is super weird but less so daily since we’re getting used to it so when we get the table back, if ever, it will seem weird to sit down and have meals there again. My office will still be my library, but the cats will have it as their eating and pooping and scampering-at-night base. It seems like whenever we have an unused room, we start using it for storage, which is a nasty habit, so there are boxes of whatever in that room which will have to be dealt with and in the mood I’m presently in, anything I don’t love dearly or associate with a beloved person or event or haven’t worn or in any way used for the past six months is doomed. I loathe clutter and I’ve been immersed in it since mid-March. Right now the house looks like it’s one phone call away from a spot on “Hoarders.” So a perhaps violent cleanout is in the near future. The very near future. I want my house back.

Hypocrisy, Anyone?

Mamacita says: Hypocrisy, anyone? It seems to me very odd for someone who professes to be a Christian – or any kind of religion based on love – to continue to support someone whose very being and substance is based on the exact opposite of everything you’re supposed to stand for. No universal love. No fidelity. No honesty. No commitment. No ethics. No morals. No trustworthiness. No truth. No caring. No helping. No literacy. No comprehension skills. No schema. No warmth. No tact. No kindness. No honor. No sense of humor.* It seems so very odd to me, in fact, that I have a very hard time believing in the sincerity of people who still love and support him, that they are actually what they still claim to be. To continue to love and support him while claiming to be Christian, or any kind of love-based belief system, smacks pretty hard of hypocrisy. I’ll go a step further, so unfriend me if you have nothing to support your continuing to back him, and say that if you still support this man while still claiming to follow Jesus (or Buddha or Allah or whoever you worship) I don’t believe one word that comes out of your mouth about how you’re a sincerely religious person who strives to do the right thing. Because your words and actions prove that you are not. *If you don’t think the Deity has a sense of humor, you haven’t looked in the mirror lately.

Good Ol’ White People

Mamacita says: Back in college, in a world history class, the professor told us that in his experience, good ol’ undereducated white people fear the educated minority for many reasons, one of which is that “. . . if this person of color, who is supposed to be inferior to me, has made himself superior by way of education, then that makes me the inferior, and since I am white, this cannot happen. I am white; therefore, I MUST BE THE SUPERIOR, so I must do whatever it takes to bring down the people of color who dare surpass me. I, myself, don’t want to exert any effort to come up to that level of education and accomplishment, so I must drag these men down to my own level, and lower. I am white, so I must be the superior species at any cost.” I once had a dreadful young man in class who came each day in t-shirts with the Confederate flag and cigarette ads, and covered with magic marker “tattoos” of swastikas and KKK figures. We were discussing goals, and when I asked him what some of his goals were, he said, “I was born white. I don’t have to do anything else if I don’t feel like it.” I asked him, “Where do you think you’ll be in ten years, then?” A cluster of students, in perfect unison, said “Hell.” While I couldn’t condone the saying, I have to agree. He marched out of the room and down to the principal, who told me I was persecuting him. Good ol’ boys sure stick together.

Watching the Atrocities

Mamacita says: I used to wonder how in the world the German people could watch their government commit atrocity after atrocity and do nothing, how they could see it and know it was diabolical and be helpless to stop it. How could they not have stopped it? It’s beyond comprehension that they let it happen and didn’t stop it. It could never happen again. The world has evolved, and it could never happen again. America would not let it. Now, I wonder how WE can stop the same thing, happening here. It has already begun. America is embracing it. We are no longer circling the drain. We are in the sewer. We are in the sewer, and there are those who are reveling in the sewage. We can no longer condemn the people who let the Nazis drag them to Hell. They are us.

Mama. Mommy. Mom. Mother. Mamaw.

Mom at 17Mamacita says: I was reading an article somewhere, by somebody*, that stated that no matter how old we get, there are still times when we want our mother. Our fifty-year-old mother.

When our mothers are young, we don’t consider them ‘friends.’ We don’t consider them young, either, because when we’re very young, all adults are old. Heck, our 12-year-old cousins seem like adults.  Our 22-year-old teacher and Grandma: one and the same, age-wise. No, to a child, most adults are old; they’re not sweet young things. They never were; it’s not possible.

Our mother was always a mother.  She had no life before us.  She’s just Mommy, when we’re young, and when she’s young. We don’t even know she was young till we look at old pictures. And then we’re blown away because, “Oh my gosh, look how YOUNG she was there!”

But as we get older, our mothers seem to stay the same, and somehow the years between us don’t matter as much as they used to.

They stay the same, that is, until we take a good long look at them and it hits us that they look old. Not just mom-old, but OLD. Wrinkly. And you know there’s white underneath the Miss Clairol. And they aren’t as sure-footed as they used to be.

This is shocking, but it’s okay, as long as the MOM is still there inside the stranger-every-day body. You know, MOM. The lady who can make magic with a word or a touch? Her? That’s the one.

Good thing WE’LL never get old like that, huh.   Wait – is that mom in the mirror there?  WHAT?  Impossible.

Mother and child

This Sunday is supposed to be a day filled with mothers.  Mine, my sisters, my niece, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, cousins, me. . . . all mothers, and several of them more than one KIND of mother.  (no, not THAT kind of mother.  Perhaps you were thinking of YOUR family?)  Many mothers.  But not this year.  This year, we gather via the internet, but we still gather.

Mother and child

Once upon a time, we were just sisters and wives and daughters when we got together, sharing a mom and having first names.  Now, we’re all Mom, Mommy, Grandma, Mamaw, Aunt, Great-aunt, mother-in-law . . . . I can remember days when I couldn’t remember the last time someone called me by my actual name.

I also remember, clear as a bell, the first time my child said my new name.  Mama.  That moment is etched on my heart, in beautiful calligraphy, and decorated with fresh flowers.  I still love to hear my children say “Mom.”  These women whose children refer to them by their first names, instead of some variation of mother?  I pity both woman and child.  Somethin’ WRONG wit dat.  Somebody gots her priorities all messed up.  That woman ain’t right in the head.

Naturally, this doesn’t keep me from snickering at women who choose a synonym for “grandmother” that sounds like poo or a body part.

Contrary to popular belief, mothers are not omniscient;  we don’t have eyes in the backs of our heads, and we can’t read your mind.  The only exception to that would be MY mother.

My beautiful mom.  Senior year.  She wasn't my mom yet.

My beautiful mom. Senior year. She wasn’t my mom yet.

And speaking of my mother. . . Mom, I have tried to emulate you in many ways, all of my life.  You read to us.  You sat down on the floor and played with us.  You used the power of Parenthood and created Special Days, all throughout the year.  Christmas is a holiday, sure, but it was YOU who created OUR Christmas.  I have tried to “do” holidays just as you did, all my married life.

There are so many kinds of mothers.  Most are awesome.  They don’t have to look like this to BE awesome, but I think we all believe we have moments like this.  I hope that’s correct.

Mother and child

I’m looking forward to Sunday, dear sisters and nieces and daughters and all of the other wonderful descriptions that come with all of you.  I might be the weirdo of the bunch – oh, it’s not like I don’t KNOW that!!!! -but I might also be the most sentimental of the bunch.

I’ve read that when we are in our twenties, the fifty-year-old mother is somehow at her peak of Mom-ness and Friend-ness. Our fifty-year-old mother is an expert in so many things.

What we don’t realize is that our fifty-year-old mother is still missing HER fifty-year-old mother.

And what very few of you know yet, is that your fifty-year-old mother is still as insecure and wondering as she was when she was in her twenties. Your fifty-year-old mother is still beating herself to death over mistakes she made when you were three.  So is our eighty-year-old mother.  And the thirty-year-old mother.  All of us need to give ourselves a break.

How do I know this? I’d rather not say.

The eighty-year-old mother is starting to get a little bent.  She falls down sometimes.  Her memory, while still razor-sharp, is beginning to falter a bit.  If it’s MY mother, she still has a social life that beats the social life of anybody I know, not even considering age.  Her hair and makeup are lovely.  Her clothes are stylish and colorful.  She looks better than I do.

The seventy-year-old mother is still cool. Still Mom. It’s just that the fragility is starting to show, and the mortality thing comes to mind more than we’d like.

The fifty-year-old Mom is the epitome of Momitude. She KNOWS things. We should listen more to our fifty-year-old Mom.

Unless she’s a meddling idiot with outdated stupid ideas and a lot of unwanted advice, of course. You don’t have to listen then.

Chances are, however, that if your fifty-year-old Mom is mean and judgmental and delights in hurting people’s feelings, she was exactly the same when she was in her twenties. Bodies change a lot*. Personalities seldom do.

The following** has been making the internet rounds for a long time now, and most of you have no doubt seen it before. However, I’m posting it anyway, because for some reason, it means more to me with each passing year.

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The Images of Mother

4 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mommy can do anything!

8 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!

12 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mother doesn’t really know quite everything.

14 YEARS OF AGE ~ Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either.

16 YEARS OF AGE ~ Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned.

18 YEARS OF AGE ~ That old woman? She’s way out of date!

25 YEARS OF AGE ~ Well, she might know a little bit about it.

35 YEARS OF AGE ~ Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.

45 YEARS OF AGE ~ Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?

65 YEARS OF AGE ~ Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

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Let’s talk things over with Mom while we have the chance.

If your own mommy doesn’t appreciate you, come right on over here. I’m not saying exactly how old this Mommy is, but she’s in her peak and prime of Momitude.  I do, however, screw it up sometimes, even now.  I do my best.  That’s all we can do, in any and every phase.

I have a lot of advice, but I’ll wait till you ask me for it***.

*Unless you’re Jamie Lee Curtis.

**If I knew the author and the name of the article, I’d have mentioned it up above, silly.

***Most of the time.