Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘boy’

They Live in the Sea

CryOfTheSeaCry of the Sea by D. G. Driver
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I don’t usually use personal pronouns in a review, but I love this book. With little preamble, I was running along the beach with Juniper Sawfeather, and her American Indian father, Peter, as they document an oil spill on there local beach. What they discover is surreal, and fighting for every breath. After making sure they aren’t seeing things, they try to save the mermaids.

One of the wonderful things about this tale is that it is completely believable. When 17-year-old June (Juniper) describes the mermaids, you can see them before your eyes. Unlike Disney versions, these creatures are silver-scaled, have gills, webbed hands, bald heads, and tails. Somewhat like a seal, but with human-like arms, hands, and eyes. It seems reasonable that they could have evolved without ever having been caught before, thus the countless stories, fables and history surrounding mermaids.

It turns out that June’s father is the head of an emergency environmental organization, and her mother, Natalie, is an environmental lawyer. Over the next few days, the mermaids existence becomes public, with resulting dismissals, and believers. A large oil company, Affron, hijacks the remaining mermaid from the marine mammal rescue center June and her father have taken it to. Over the next few days all hell breaks loose, within there family, community, internet, and national news.

Cry of the Sea never lags, or stops for a breather. It is a splendid ride exploring friendship, family dynamics, teen friendships, first romance, earth concerns, ethics, and public opinion. If either of the other two books in Ms. Driver’s series (Whisper of the Woods, Echoes of the Cliffs) are half as good as this one , they should be read immediately.

 

I’m Supposed To Die First

“Stop the train! I want to get off!” Jean shouted. 

An excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

imagesJean’s son of forty-three years had died in a restaurant. He choked to death. He had survived a life of infinite struggle as he lived with Down’s Syndrome and the isolation, stigma and cultural alienation he and his family had experienced daily.

“He was such a good soul,” Jean continued, as tears streamed down her cheeks. “Of all the things to happen, why did it have to happen to him?”

Her son Daniel had become increasingly independent as he aged and was living in a group home in the Bay Area. He was working as a street cleaner during the day and enjoying a variety of social events with his living companions on his off-hours. Jean had visited him two days prior to his death, as she has done twice a week for the last fifteen years. She said she felt blessed, burdened and bonded with Daniel in a way only mothers of developmentally delayed children can know.

“Daniel was so in the moment,” she said. “His smile was infectious.” She looked down at her hands. “I know this may sound crazy, because people think folks like him aren’t as aware of others, as they are of themselves, but Daniel,” she grinned, “was always thinking about others. He could tell when someone was down. He’d give them a big bear hug and say, ‘There, there.’”

She cried bittersweet tears. “He always said, ‘I love love.’ and would wait for you to say it. He wouldn’t do anything else until you would say, ‘I love love too.’ back to him. He would just stand there waiting, no matter how long it took.”

Jean had taken care of Daniel single handedly for most of his life. Not long after Daniel was born, his father moved away saying he couldn’t live with an “abnormal” kid. In his home country, people made fun of kids like Daniel and would say they were cursed and had the evil eye. He blamed Jean and her background for the child’s difference, telling her that her family must have done something very bad in the past.

So Jean, at age twenty-four, took on the already difficult and exhausting life of single-parenthood, combined with the complication of a child that would stay a child for much of his life.

No matter how much she loved him, the reality was that caring for Daniel was overwhelming and all-consuming. She seldom had any time to herself and finding support and child-care as he aged became increasingly difficult. Yet, she loved him like a mother loves an only child. Her identity, reason for living and self-image of who she was became increasingly ingrained with her son’s life.

When she realized that his independence and happiness would be greatly enhanced if he learned to live on his own and separate from her, she was heartbroken.

Having him move to a group home for independent living, which was a forty-five minute drive away, felt like having your ten-year-old go away for a weekend sleep-over and never coming home. She was petrified, anxious and relieved when he actually moved. She said she grieved a thousand deaths day after day and rarely allowed herself to enjoy the “freedom” of her drastically changed less-encumbered life.

“It took me years to grieve the loss of him as a boy, acknowledge him as a man, and let go of my primary identify in the world as ‘Daniel’s Mom,’” Jean said, shifting her legs in the chair. “The last four years were wonderful. I had let go of so much, was doing things I’d always wanted to try, and trusting that he was safe and happy. Then,” she closed her eyes, as her held fell back, “then I get this call and he’s gone. Just like that . . . no warning . . . no good-byes . . . no more ‘I love love.’” She put her head in her hands and sobbed.

Later, after blowing her nose and wiping her eyes, she said, “Now I have to start all over again and I don’t want to. It isn’t supposed to be like this. I’m supposed to die first, not him.” Her eyes met mine. “I want to get off. I want to just disappear.”

She took a few moments of silence, then started telling me about her and Daniel — about all the funny, crazy, confusing, exciting, scary and unbelievable things he and they had done together. She told me about his temper, his sweetness and his frustrations with the world. She brought him to life again and again with her stories.

After another half-hour of hearing about Daniel, Jean placed her hand over her heart, closed her eyes and said, “He’s not gone. I can feel him right here. I can hear him telling me to ‘love love’.”

More support and stories at: Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter.

Children In Peru

Our Recent Visit to Peru,

Antonio, on the left is six years old and has Down Syndrome. I met him and his mom three years ago when he began attending our rehabilitation center in Chincha. Antonio was three then and delayed in walking. Thanks to the aide of the centers therapists I then saw his early steps. It has been a pleasure for me to witness several other children with much more severe motor problems accomplish what seemed to be an unsurmountable feat. One of these children was Maria Pilar, who had cerebral palsy and this visit it was a young boy named Eddy. Eddy was born with a deformed urinary tract and has undergone several surgeries. He also had motor and balance problems. I was pleased to be able to video Eddy as he held his arms out to balance and walked across the room for US! Thank you for the hand up, that made this possible!

243

Cory
Building for Generations

Your Time Has Come!

From Solar Girl and Lunar Boy – Stories
by Gabriel Constans

Solar Girl and Lunar Boy

“Good night,” their Mom said, as she turned on the night light by the closet.

“Sweet dreams,” said father, as he switched off the lamp and blew them both kisses.

“Good night,” Angelina replied.

“Good night,” Corey whispered, pulling the covers up around his neck.

The bedroom door had been closed but a few minutes when Corey heard something in the corner. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh,” it wheezed, then “Hoooeeerrrahhh.”

He turned towards his sister’s bed, but couldn’t see her under the covers.

“Angelina . . . Angelina . . .,” he whispered, not wanting the monster or whatever it was, to hear him. There was no reply.

The breathing grew louder and sounded mad. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!”

“Mom . . . Mom! Help!” he yelled.

“What is it Honey?” his mother asked, coming into the room.

Still holding the covers tightly around his neck, his eyes wide with fright, Corey nodded towards the corner of the room. “Over there,” he said, “it’s over there!”

“There’s nothing,” his mom said. “Look.” She walked to the corner, returned and kneeled by his side. “Go back to sleep Hon. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” She kissed him on the forehead and left.

He wanted to believe her; he really did, but as soon as the door closed it started again, only louder. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!”

Corey almost stopped breathing. Before squeezing his eyes shut, he saw a large swirling shadow in the corner. It was spinning like a top and was bigger than a giant bear. “Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” it hissed. It didn’t have eyes, but he knew it was looking right at him.

“Dad . . . Dad! Help!” he screamed and started to cry.

“What is it son?” his father said, opening the door and turning on the light.

“There . . . over there,” he pointed, “in the corner!”

“I don’t see anything,” his father replied. “You must have been dreaming.”

“No,” he said. “It breathes loud; really loud!”

“Sometimes the night can be scary,” his father said, stroking his son’s forehead, “but there’s nothing there, it’s just your imagination.”

“It’s . . . it’s not my . . . my manation,” he said, shaking his head side to side. “It’s real.”

“Dreams can seem very real,” father said. “Look at your sister, she’s sound asleep. If there was something loud it would have woken her, don’t you think?”

Corey glanced at his sister’s bed, but only saw her covers. “But . . . but she’s seven,” he said. “She’s not scared of anything.”

“She can get just as scared as you,” father grinned. “If there was something in this room, she’d know it.”

“But . . . but I heard it,” Corey said, “I even saw it!”

“Now now,” father said, tucking in the covers around Corey’s neck. “Go back to sleep. Everything will be OK.”

“Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” the monster moaned, not long after father had left the room and closed the door. “Your time . . . mmmh . . . has come!” it belched, swirling closer to the foot of Corey’s bed, blocking out any glow from the night light.

Corey’s mouth opened without a sound.

“No it hasn’t!” he heard someone yell. “YOUR time has come!”

He turned his head and saw his sister, in her pajamas, standing on her bed with her arms stretched towards the ceiling. A bright light glowed from her chest. As her arms dropped, the light moved from her body and became a ball of energy between her hands. “It’s YOUR time,” she said, “to stop scaring my brother. LEAVE US! NOW!” she commanded, as her hands guided the ball of light towards the shrinking shadow.

“It’s gone!” Corey shouted. “It’s gone! How did you do that?” The ball of light hovered, vibrating in the same corner where the monster had been.

“It’s easy,” his sister replied, sitting on the side of the bed.

“Easy?”

“Yeah, easy,” Angelina said, “when you’re Solar Girl.”

“Solar Girl?” Corey said, sitting on the edge of his bed. “Who is Solar Girl?”

“I am,” she replied.

“I wish I could do that.”

“You can,” she said.

“No I can’t,” Corey replied. “I’m only four.”

“But don’t you know who you are?” Angelina asked.

“What?”

“You’re Lunar Boy.”

Corey’s mouth dropped open. “I’m who?”

“Lunar Boy.”

“Who is Lunar Boy?”

“You are. You’ve always been Lunar Boy; you just forgot.”

“But I can’t do that,” he said pointing at the floating light in the corner.

“Yes you can,” she said, “You just need to find your own inner light.”

“How?”

“I’ll show you how I do it,” she said, standing and taking his hand. “Here,” she said, putting her hand over her heart. “It comes from here. It’s always here, but sometimes we are too scared to remember.

Corey took his hand and placed it on his chest. “Now what?”

“Close your eyes breathe slowly and say, “Like the sun.”

“Like the sun,” he repeated.

“I am full of light.”

“I am full of light.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I am energy.”

“I am energy.”

“I am a star.”

“I am a star.”

“I will shine forever.”

“I will shine forever.”

The next night, after their mother and father had turned on the night light, shut off the lamp and closed the door, Corey and Angelina heard and saw the shadow, even bigger than before, come through the closet doors towards their beds.

“Haaafffeeerrrahhh . . . Hoooeeerrrahhh!” it gurgled.

“It sounds like water from the bath when it goes down the drain,” Angelina said, but Corey was too frightened to laugh.

“Angelina,” he said, “I mean Solar Girl . . . do something!”

“No,” she said, “it’s time for Lunar Boy.”

“I can’t,” Corey said. “It’s too big and scary.”

“Yes you can,” she said. “Just do it. Don’t think about it, do it.”

Corey quickly climbed on top of his bed. The swirling shadow monster was almost upon him. His body was shaking, but he closed his eyes, put his hand on his chest and took a slow breath. He heard his sister say, “Like the sun.”

“Like the sun,” he repeated and continued.

“I am full of light.”

“I shine inside and out.”

“I am energy.”

“I am a star.”

“I will shine forever.”

His toes and fingers prickled with heat, as light flowed from the center of his body, shooting out through his hands. He opened his eyes. His arms were raised and his palms turned outward. The light was so brilliant he could barely see.

“You did it!” he heard Angelina shout. “You did it Lunar Boy! It’s gone!”

“I did,” he said. “I really did!”

“Now it’s for real,” Angelina grinned.

“What’s real?” asked Corey.

“You’re a real member.”

“Member of what?”

“Of the Inner Light Club.”

“I am?”

“Yes, forever and ever.”

When they were tucked into bed the next night and their mother went to turn on the night light, Corey said, “Mom, that’s OK.”

“What?” she said, turning the light on as usual.

“You can turn it off,” he said. “We don’t need it anymore.”

“Are you sure Hon?”

“Yeah,” he said, turning towards his sister and smiling.

“OK,” their mother said.

Just before she turned out the lamp and closed the door, Solar Girl winked at her little brother, Lunar Boy and they closed their eyes in the dark for a good night’s sleep, knowing they were always safe with the Inner Light Club.

Read more children’s stories in Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

It Doesn’t “Suck”

The way we speak drives me crazy! Well, it doesn’t really “drive me” anywhere, nor causes me to have a psychotic break, but it can be intensely frustrating. Our use of language is so flippant and unconscious that we rarely recognize the stinking sewage it can create in our immediate surroundings and the culture in which we live. Without understanding or realizing the toxicity of the words we are perpetuating we continue butchering the English language with random disregard for the consequences.

English is already limited in its capacity to adequately describe much of our experience, so why are we boxing it up into minimalist jargon and down-sizing its potential for understandable discourse? To put it bluntly, when did sucking become bad?

Sucking, a most pleasurable experience, now connotes that something or someone is not good; that they or it, is not only bad, but really awful. “That movie sucked” or “You suck” are lamely thrown around to encapsulate an entire event or individual and have nothing to do with the pleasurable sensations of sucking.

Co-mingling with this inane colloquialism is the phrase “I’m screwed.” or “Screw you.” To screw, in this context, refers to sexual intercourse, again a most pleasant and joyful experience that now insinuates being helpless, taken advantage of or without recourse, as in “I really screwed up.” or “They screwed me over.” It goes without any prerequisites that exclaiming “bad” to mean “good” makes as much sense as saying “cool” equals “hot”, “fat” is “great”, or “sweet” implies “excellent.”

Moving towards the basement of horrific vocabulary is “shut up”, which should be banned from use when used to convey “This can’t be true!” or “You’re kidding?” People who use “shut up” in that context should just shut up!

The proverbial “Boy!” or “Man!” when speaking of something astounding, exciting or unbelievable, such as “Man that was close! Man, you are amazing! Oh boy, let’s go!” is another constant source of verbal annoyance. Why don’t people say, “Oh, girl!” or “Woman, that was awesome!”?

Along these same illogical lines, when did both genders become “guys”? It appears to be used completely out of context and without regard to those who are being addressed. “Hi guys; what would you like for dinner?” the waitress asks a table of men, women and children. “What did you guys do today?” a father asks his daughter.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Take it like a woman! Quit acting like a boy.” or “Be a woman!”? When did being female become a bad thing? What is so threatening about women that men (and women) will use such language in a derogatory manner when they want boys or men to behave differently or to put them down?

And everyone knows the World Series is anything but. A competition that excludes ninety-five percent of the global population and includes only American and a few Canadian teams is not “The World”. American football is not “football”; it is hand and foot ball. Football is what Americans and English call soccer and consists of a REAL world series (World Cup) with countries from almost every nation on the planet.

There are some words that should just be banned, period. “Fine” for instance, as in “I’m fine.” The definition of fine is “finished; perfected; superior in quality; better than average.” When we greet one another and are asked, “How are you?” do we really intend to say “I am finished” “I am perfected” or “I am superior in quality; how are you?” Some psychotherapist friends tell me that “FINE” should stand for “Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional”, but what do they know seeing that “psycho” is short for psychotic and “therapist” comes from therapeutes, which means attendant or servant; thus my counseling friends are nothing but psychotic servants.

No word is used more inanely or often in English than the word “love”. We use it for everything – I love this movie; I love that song; I love you; I love me; I love baseball; I love Fred; I love Julia; I love food; I love God; I love my dog. It is used so casually and with such consistent disregard for its complexities, that it can end up meaning nothing more than an over-cooked adjective that has loved itself to death.

You may beg to differ with these observations about our idiosyncratic attempts to communicate; though I am still waiting to see someone actually get on their knees and plead or beg to disagree with something I have said. The old adage of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” must have originated with people who didn’t have to listen to someone saying, “this sucks” a thousand times a day or been told “screw you” and never been able to actually do so with the person who said it.

Adoption: It’s About Time!

“Be all the parent you can be – adopt!”

“If you want to change the world, become an adoptive parent.”

These fictional adds proclaim the reality and need, across this country, for people to become adoptive parents and provide homes to children who are currently living in foster care, orphanages or state run institutions. Newborns, preschoolers, adolescents and teens are waiting for security, love, commitment and yes, sacrifice. Parenting requires the endless sacrifice of one’s ego, vanity, time and selfishness, whether it’s through adoption or birth! It’s not for everyone. Some people don’t want it and some can’t hack it.

Parenting puts you on the front lines of changing society. Teaching children how to live with the reality of emotional pain and loss, in the context of a secure and safe environment, is one of the greatest gifts we can provide future generations. To do so not only heals the wounds of abandonment, abuse, and betrayal, but also helps prevent additional pain, violence and acting out as our children become adults.

I think the title that comes closest to describing the experience of parenthood is, “The Agony and The Ecstasy”. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It can be a long, arduous, painful journey that requires us to take it one day at a time. Yet the rewards and the joy are far greater than any pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! Your heart can overflow with love and pride when you see your child grow, make a new discovery or accomplish something they never thought possible.

Becoming a parent quickly removes any pretenses or misconceived perceptions and expectations one may have previously held about parenthood and oneself. It puts a mirror to your soul and makes you look honestly at your reflection.

Since the age of sixteen I knew I wanted to have children and created a lot of convenient images and fantasies of what that would be like. When, at age twenty-six, my first child was born and the reality of how much attention they needed hit me full force (night after night of interrupted sleep and demands), I fell into months of postpartum depression. The reality that I was now responsible for another person for the rest of my life ran me over like a runaway crib!

As my daughter grew older and we had another child, two and a half years later, my heart for them both was filled with all the love, wonder and compassion I had expected, along with the unexpected. The next hurdle was learning when and how to say “no” or “yes”. It wasn’t as easy as it had sounded in the books!

Then, when the children were about five and seven years old, another unexpected event took place. I got divorced. We had just adopted a five-year-old boy through the county, before our divorce, so I had to go back to court and adopt our son as a single parent. Luckily, in our area of the country, this situation was not a problem for the county adoption agency or the courts, but it was a problem for me. It was exhausting! Luckily I met an incredible woman and eventually remarried. Though she made sure to not act like a substitute mother, she was and is an incredible support and is now called “Mom” by one and all.

After navigating divorce, single parenting and the adjustments of a new family, I thought I would never have another child, birth or adopted, but once again we were called or I should say “asked”, if we would “take in” another child. We said yes, having no idea what we were in for. That’s when our foster daughter moved in to our home. She was fourteen years old at the time. If I’d thought it was difficult learning how to parent the younger children as they grew, it was nothing compared to the needs and circumstances of an abused teenager. But, with the help and support of friends and family and the county foster care programs social worker, we all made it through with, as they say, “flying colors”.

Because every human being is different, children offer a unique insight into human nature and how we come to be who we are. There are some that need and want more limits, structure and guidance and others that need physical and/or emotional care and attention. Some are shy and withdrawn, while others won’t stay put and talk up a storm! Sometimes you need to be with them every minute and at other times you need to let them go and explore the world on their own terms. What they (and we) all have in common, is a need for unconditional love, presence and safety.

If you cannot or have not, physically had a child and/or you already had a birth child or two, I strongly encourage you to consider adoption. The challenges of bonding, dealing with previous losses, conditioning and fears are sometimes different then those of birth children and sometimes the same, but the attachment and love you feel for them (whether they physically come through you or someone else) is just as powerful, awesome and fulfilling.

The new add campaign says, “Parenting. It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure!”

How Old Are You?

It happened right before my eyes and I didn’t see it. How could I have missed it? How could I be so blind? My son, Brendon, had grown from a little boy into a man. It was his eighteenth birthday and we were flying to London, England; the land of Dickens and Shakespeare; the place he’d wanted to visit since junior high school.

It wasn’t their famous authors or history that he was interested in, it was the pull of a large, exciting, cosmopolitan city filled with nightlife, plays, clubs, art and the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).

This was our trip; a father and son fulfilling a childhood dream, spending time together without any of his brothers, sisters or other parents. The journey ended up being more than a travel adventure. For me, it was a wake up call and reminder of life’s limits; of values and validation; of remembering what’s important and letting go of what isn’t.

Brendon ended up making a lot of decisions, deciding what to do, where to go and how to get there. He read the fine print on the train or bus schedules; the print I couldn’t read; the words that were a blur of small letters to my aging eyes.

“You need some new glasses,” he said. Imagine, my son telling ME what I need!

“It’s this way,” he’d say, referring to the right direction to visit a certain district or tour.

“No. No. It’s over here,” I’d insist.

Nine out of ten times he was right. Imagine, my son, the little boy I’d carried in my arms and on my back, telling ME which way to go! My son, walking longer and farther day by day, finding his way to a late night club by himself; not wanting me to come with him. Imagine that!

Not only did his independence and energy make me feel old, but it also instilled a new found respect and appreciation for who he is and how he lives in the world. He was kind and considerate to all those we met and responsible enough to have the courage to ask for help when needed. I was proud to be his father.

Being with my son outside the U.S also opened my eyes to the advantages and disadvantages of living in America. Though it’s still difficult and not everyone in The States is feeling financially stable, it was still a lot cheaper for food, rent, utilities and gas here, than it was in England. Petro in Great Britain costs the equivalent of five to six dollars per gallon (as it does throughout most of Europe) and groceries run about fifteen percent more. In general, there’s more space in America than in England. Houses and apartments are like little gingerbread boxes there and the toilets (rarely referred to as bathrooms) are just big enough to squeeze into and close the door.

On the other hand, the English seem to feel much more connected with a larger community, not as isolated as our country can be. Their coverage of the news was more diverse, including all the worlds’ peoples and countries, not just there own.

The Brits’ live IN history, surrounded by centuries of monuments, castles, museums and ruins. Their past seems more alive at times than the present, whereas we in the U.S. tend to view anything over two days old as ancient or irrelevant.

Best of all, the English seemed friendlier than I had remembered when I visited twenty-odd years before this trip. Everywhere we traveled, whether it was in the beautiful green countryside, small Elizabethan villages or in London, with its numerous historical sites and exhibits; people would say, “Lovely.” Giving us change for a purchase the clerk would say, “Lovely.” Opening a door for someone entering or leaving a building resulted in another “Lovely. Thank you.” When responding to a statement about an object, person or event, we’d hear another “Lovely, isn’t it?”

Much to Brendon’s embarrassment, lovely became my favorite word. I started repeating it, with the best British accent I could muster, day in and day out. For me, it implied an appreciation and acceptance of the momentary human interaction, an acknowledgment of the beauty and joy available at our fingertips. When people asked about our trip, it’s easy to sum up my love of Brendon and our time in England together in one simple word “Lovely”.

Tag Cloud