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Month: September 2018

Most Boys Don’t

I was a kid when my first #metoo episode came at the invading hands of a boy who was almost a man. I did tell, and the people I told believed me, but nothing else happened. Years and another #metoo moment later, I asked one of those people I had told why they had said done nothing.

“That’s just something guys do,” he said.

This week, as the debate about the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations Intensified leading up to her testimony, I heard people of good faith honestly questioning her story. I know my own experience biases me in favor of listening to other potential survivors, but I can accept that, absent any physical evidence, these cases do come down to the credibility of each party. What I refuse accept is a familiar claim – that this is something all boys do – that has echoed as the debate has raged, .

Thirty years ago, my reaction to hearing the rationale “boys will be boys” — at the tacit expense of the girls — was impotent rage at a society where girls and women are supposed to accept that some of us will be collateral damage. Scrap.

A little over 18 years ago, I was pregnant with Thing1, having learned would be a boy. It was barely a decade since I’d come to a reckoning with my past, and the Big Guy was one of the few men whom I trusted.

I had always secretly hoped I would have a little girl, but the moment I found out a little boy was on the way, I knew I had to change my feelings about men. I couldn’t raise a man if I saw good men as the exceptions to an archaic rule steeped in privilege that dehumanizes women and infantilizes men. I had to start seeing every man as an individual with the same capacity for good and evil as women. I had to tell myself and, through my actions, my son every day that the bad acts of a few men did not define the man he would become, let alone men in general.

So when I heard yet another commentator on one of the news channels repeat a version of that toxic mantra, I felt angry for the women and girls who been and will continue to be collateral damage. I was also, however, angry on behalf of the wonderful men I’m privileged to know who would never see the act of violating a woman’s autonomy and humanity as a masculine rite of passage.

Most of the men I know have emphatically rejected that idea in person and on social media. Much has been said this week about how damaging that mentality is to women, but as a mother of men, as a wife of an imperfect but steadfast and caring man, I found the conversation has not only fueled by my own memories of trauma but anger at the idea that there are some awful things that boys just do because that’s who they are.

Some boys do, but I think most boys are better than that.

How Will it End

“Could you not write about this,” Thing1 asked me. I said of course. “At least not until I’ve had a chance to tell people and let it sit for a while.“

He’s told everybody in his small group of friends and larger group of family. He’s had a chance to digest it.

The week before we were supposed to take him to college, we’d gone for his third colonoscopy. I’ve written that I cried a few times after hearing the news, and I remember the doctor looking like she wanted to cry with me as she showed me pictures of his still very inflamed, diseased colon. we discussed moving him to another drug. Then we all, with Thing1 making the final decision about his now adult body, realized that it was time to consider the surgical option that would remove his colon and the disease – and the need to take so many drugs. We went home with our firstborn still planning to go to school on Friday. He was crossing his fingers that the next drug would kick in on Thursday, letting him have one semester before he had major surgery.

We spent Tuesday studying withdrawal and refund policies at the same time we were packing and buying a new set of sheets for the dorm. The Big Guy and I had serious doubts about the safety of sending him off. The drug might work, but five days before he was to become more independent, he was still in danger of having a perforated colon, with his primary need being the regaining of robust enough health to sustain the two operations he’ll need. Finally a talk with my father, a retired but still consulting pediatric gastroenterologist, helped Thing1 process all the risks – some lifelong- of going in September versus the three months of reward.

After the phone conversation he came down to my study to announce that he was going to withdraw, knowing it meant taking a full gap year for his health. For the first time since his first symptoms appeared, he cried. He sat in my easy chair, and I held him like I did when he was still little enough for a kiss on the head fix everything, knowing all I could do was be there to support him right now. he had lost most of his senior year. He had lost most of the summer and his job, and now he had to make new plans as he put college on the back burner for a year.

It’s been almost 4 weeks since that decision, and he’s made us prouder of him than if he had gone to college and made straight A’s for the first time. The first week he started feeling better with the new drug and went to hit a few golf balls at the local park. He test drove a few cars that he could never afford to buy and we would never buy for him even if we could afford to. And after he decompressed for a few days, he started looking for jobs he could do while he was in recovery. By the second week he had three interviews, and at the beginning of this week he had two offers which he is still considering. His surgery is scheduled for the end of October, and he’s started planning how to regain the level of fitness he had two years ago.

We think we have a pretty good idea where our journey with chronic illness is going, But the reality is we don’t know. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that anything can happen, and the only thing we can do is support each other and support Thing1. All we can do, when the news is bad or when it’s good is move on because in the end that’s all anybody can do.

Watercolor’s Company

i’m starting to replenish the Itty Bitty Bookshelf Gallery again. I was running low on canvases and started going through once that could be painted over and stumbled on a very non-Vermont painting – a picture of a disappearing reappearing lake in Iceland.

I decided to keep this one. It’s a little different from the other campuses because it’s not an oil painting. It’s a watercolor. I started experimenting with watercolor on campus a couple years ago when I got tired of framing paper under glass, I think it works. It’s keeping a picture of our dirt road company.

Simple Gifts

Last Day of Summer, 8” x 10”, Oil

The Living Room studio is open again today. I’m doing a stop drop and draw still life with whomever in our group wants to drop in. It’s an odd time of day and week to have a social gathering of any kind – I want a few people I know doesn’t work on a weekday – but it’s making for series of busy but art-filled Wednesdays.

I draw or paint regardless of who drops in. Thing2 is at school and Thong1 is interviewing for a desk job today to stay occupied this year as he gets his health to a point that will let him go away to school next year. For most of 2018 my mid week days off have been occupied with doctors visits. Having almost 3 weeks in a row of afternoons dedicated to drawing is a gift that’s not to be squandered.

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