lockdown

February 23, 2013

lockdown

Yesterday we learned via robo call that our daughter’s college had an emergency and it was on lockdown. I don’t even have to describe the images that came into my head. You know the images.

I texted her, “Please call me when you can.”

She replied, “I can’t. I’m so scared.”

With no additional information, we, and she, and her fellow students and professor, had no idea what was going on. They only knew it involved a gun.

The incident turned out to be less threatening than we were all imagining. Someone just a block off campus, not a college student, had threatened to shoot another and was locked in his apartment. The police were trying to get him to come out, which he eventually did.

While I think I did pretty well in crisis mode, I felt like wailing and gnashing afterward. How do I protect my daughter, and my son, in this crazy world? How can I care and comfort her in such a situation from so far away? I wanted her home. I wanted her here where I could protect her. I wanted to impose my own lockdown.

But even at home, I can’t protect her from these situations. When she was a freshman in high school we had another robo call about her school being in lockdown. This was not at some college in another state, but at her sweet little high school in downtown Ann Arbor, just a 10 minute walk from my office, in a relatively safe and comfortable community.

A robber who was holding up a jewelry store downtown had run from police toward the area of the school. That time we received good information throughout the crisis via more robo calls. We knew what the situation was. We knew the police were immediately inside the school with tracking dogs (the police station is about 3 blocks from the school) and we knew when the lockdown was lifted when they found no robber.

We also learned after the lockdown was lifted, first via text from our daughter, that someone in a dance class noticed a man’s feet sticking out from behind the curtain of a storage area. As the teacher tried to get the students out of the room, the robber realized he had been discovered and yelled, “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to get out of here.” The students stood aside as he bolted from the classroom and the building. (He was found shortly after hiding, wrapped in insulation, under the porch of a home.)

I can’t protect her from everything. If she is going to live in the world, if she is going to do meaningful work in the world, if she is going to change the world for the better, then she will have to live, LIVE! in this sometimes-dangerous world. Keeping her under my wing safe from all that is scary and hard would just make for a miserable person who is unable to cope as an adult. So, no home lockdowns.

My comfort in these lockdown situations is that in both cases she was not alone; she was with friends and with kind strangers. Some of the strangers are now her friends. Yesterday she and her classmates were in it together. They shared information; she shared her jolly ranchers. They tried to make each other laugh. They took care of and comforted each other.

Our children are not alone and it’s best for them, and for us, to learn that they can find strength, comfort and compassion in the people around them, and in themselves. All of the love and safety we have provided them when they were young, they can find and cultivate in others as they get older.

I will always drop everything to try to comfort and to be with my children when they are facing a crisis, now and 40 years from now. But I am learning that I will be part of a bigger support team, with members who will be right by my children’s side much more quickly than I can be.

don’t get a pug

February 20, 2013

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Photos:
1. Finny and his boy, winter 2002
2. Finny and his girl, summer 2002
3. Finny helping to pack up Christmas decorations, Jan 2013

Don’t ever get a pug. No matter how cute they are, no matter how loyal they are, no matter how are cuddly they are, no matter how tolerant they are of all forms of degrading attire, taunting and tricks. No matter that they don’t have an aggressive bone in their bodies, and that even at 11 years old they look and often act like puppies. Don’t do it.

If you live with a pug, you and your house will be covered in dog hair forever and always. The dog will shed his body weight in hair daily.

He will cry at the side of your bed because he doesn’t feel like jumping onto it. And when you get up in the cold and dark to lift him onto the bed, he will walk away from you down the hall, because he really wants food. And when you pick him up and bring him to bed, that will be okay with him because he was just checking about the food, just in case. Or, when you decide you will no longer walk down the hall after him, he will come back and cry and scream at your bedside you will ignore him with a little bit of sadistic satisfaction because you will think at that moment that you are the boss. So he will trot over to your husband’s side of the bed and cry. And your husband will get out of bed and follow him down the hall and pick him up and bring him back to bed…every time. Your husband will understand who is boss.

Your pug will rub up against you so vigorously you will laugh and think it’s funny and cute and then you will remember that he is just cleaning the goop out of his eyes. You will never learn.

Because his bark is actually a scream that sounds like the screech of old train brakes, your new neighbor Sam will ask in his strong eastern European accent, “How old is your leetle dog? I think he cannot bark any more.” And you will say “Yes, he is eleven” instead of explaining that he never could.

Your pug will be obsessed with all food, but mostly chocolate. And before you leave town for a work meeting you will throw all of the purchases for your daughter’s upcoming birthday party, including the pound bag of m&ms, into the back of your closet and then you will leave town. Your husband will take the kids out for a bike ride and when they return they will wonder where that empty pound bag of m&ms came from. At 2am your husband will be awaken to the sound and smell of your pug puking and pooping chocolate on the bed next to him. He will wake up the kids and get everyone into the car to go to the emergency vet and he will make sure your pug is okay. He will come home, get the kids to bed, clean up the 12 piles of chocolate mess around the house. A few hours later he will get the kids to school and himself to work and when you call the next evening to let him know you are fogged in at LaGuardia you will wonder why he sounds like he is going to cry.

You will spend thousands of dollars, that could be going to college saving’s accounts or to pay off a car, on pug eye surgery at a huge, fancy special doggy surgery hospital in another town, so that his eyelashes no longer scrape and irritate his bulging eyes.

When you go to sleep with your pug at the foot of your bed, you will wake up with his furry head on the pillow next to yours and his fishy dog breath in your face.

And even though this pug will make you laugh every day, will bring out a tenderness in your huge, teenage son that will make your heart surge, will sometimes be the only comfort that can reach your teenage daughter dealing with the complex passage into adulthood, and whose every cell of his little loaf-of-bread body expresses absolute joy at your return home at the end of the day…I really mean it, Don’t get a pug.