Thursday, August 16, 2012
Today I dropped my kids off at their high school. I drove away…crying. I called my wife to talk me through my drive home. Why was I crying you might ask? It’s a transition period for us all – and none of us transitions well, especially me.
For as long as my kids have been alive I have been a die-hard homeschooler. We have unschooled, on-site charter-schooled, at home charter schooled, then back to on-site charter school. It’s all been relatively well controlled – safe spaces for my kids, good education, and if the education or safe space disappeared (which it had in the case of one charter school) we immediately made adjustments that worked for us.
This year however my youngest decided he wanted to try a particular public High School – which shocked me. But there were some issues with their peer group at the charter school they were attending (though the education and teachers were awesome) and he had some friends from his fencing club who would be attending this particular high school. So – we took the steps necessary to make that happen. As it happened this high school is really good. There were opportunities offered there that convinced my middle son to also go ahead and transfer over for his final year of high school. Suddenly our homeschooling days were over.
Now, it‘s not like my kids can’t handle this, with some grumbling of getting adjusted to a new routine. Rather than going to school 2 days a week (like college classes) they will go 5. That is a big adjustment for them – and me. And it’s not like they can’t handle meeting new people – they are very good at that with all their homeschooling and lack of specific age group segregation, they are very adept at meeting and conversing with people of all ages – from infant to the elderly. And this school has a very diverse population which I think will be a refreshing change for them. And it’s not like they can’t handle getting up early for school, and doing their homework in the evenings. No, I think the kids will be just fine actually. Give them a couple weeks to really adjust to the new and different routine and they will be just fine. The one I am worried about is me.
You see, I never wanted my kids in the public school system. It scares me. There are gangs, and drugs, and shootings, and the education is seriously lacking in many schools in our area. Teachers are overworked and underpaid and not allowed to actually TEACH. They spend more time being disciplinarians than educators. Having many friends who are teachers shows me that while there is some good, there is a lot that needs fixing. Our school system sucks. Luckily for us, the school my youngest decided he wanted to go to happens to be one of the best in the area.
But…it’s still a P.U.B.L.I.C. school.
Homeschooling allowed me to give my kids the time to be kids…to not grow up too fast, to play and enjoy learning as much as possible. It allowed me to ensure that they were maturing at their rate and not because of negative life experiences (of which they did have several – divorce is never fun) that often cause kids to grow up too fast. And in talking with my wife (ok, crying on the phone while she talked) she reminded me that I gave them that. And now at 15 and almost 18 they are actually quite ready to do more growing and maturing into the young men they have already become. Apparently I did ok with these guys. (not to ignore the contributions of their father by any means, he was a part of that process also - but this blog is about me...) It was sometimes a battle to make sure that their educational and emotional needs were being met in a manner that meshed well, but I fought hard for my kids and made decisions for them that I think turned out OK. As they got older they were welcomed into the discussion of their education, what they wanted, how they wanted it and where they got it. And I think they made some good decisions as well. My kids had the time to learn how to make decisions that deeply affected their lives and understand the ramifications both positive and not so positive.
The process to transition from homeschool to public was nearly seamless. Every time and obstacle popped up it was immediately erased as if by magic. There were two pretty big obstacles. We had to find a home in the district, in our price range and that met our requirements. That was not easy at all – until at the last possible week to find a new home, I stumbled across this house in a nice neighborhood. Turns out they had just lowered the rent and there were 20+ applications in for it (most of them sight unseen – did I mention it’s a nice neighborhood?). We (my 17 yr old and I) met with the property manager to look at the house (LOVED IT!) and he apparently fell in love with us. I had laryngitis (which he thought was adorable) and he had 15 grandkids and just loved my kid. He told the owner of the house that WE would be renting because WE were the right family for this place. Wow. So we have our new home within the district. However, the day we enrolled the kids into their new high school we discovered (to our horror!) that the boundaries had just been changed and our new home was NO longer in the district and they’d have to go to a school there was no way in hell I’d let them attend. However, the superintendent just happened to be signing intra-district transfers that day ONLY and 15 minutes later we were set. What a stroke of luck! It’s been truly nearly seamless – which tells me it was the right decision.
So why am I crying? Because my boys are in a public school, they are growing up, I won’t have them home with me all day a few days a week as I am used to and I HATE change and transitions. And while I know this is all a good thing because I have no negative feelings about this particular transition at all, it is still difficult. This means my kids are not babies anymore. They still need me, but not like before. They are capable young men who can take care of their business on their own (for the most part) and they know I am here if they need me.
But…I think all of this is much harder on me than on them. They are supposed to be growing up…not me. I’m already grown up. Aren’t I? And as my wife pointed out to me through my tears this morning, we will go through this transition and growing period as we have all the others…kicking and screaming one moment and laughing through it the next. And we will make it through to the other side just as strong as we always have. Yes, there will be some bumps in the road – but that is life. And while transitions can be difficult…they are doable.
Transitions…growing up isn’t just for kids…It's for the whole family...
Sunday, August 5, 2012
With all the LGBT uproar lately about Chick-Fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy and his outrageous comments about the Gay community, and then Huckabee’s Chick-Fil-A appreciation day, and all those bigoted (so-called) men of God preaching from their pulpits about how horrible gay people are, how we should be locked up, deported, killed, how being gay is a choice, how our ‘lifestyle’ lends itself to pedophilia…OMG! It is INSANE! And Dammit – IT HURTS! Yes I am yelling! What the hell is wrong with people? I was once told by a Christian woman I knew (and who knew my 3 boys well) that I should have my children taken away from me because ALL gays are pedophiles and therefore I was a pedophile. I have been told to my face that I should be killed because I am gay. I have been told to my face that I will go to hell because I am gay. I have been told to my face that I am a horrible person and parent because I am gay. And I have been physically threatened because I am gay…and people still think I ‘chose’ to be gay?
I don’t know…I don’t get it – it make me so sad…and it makes me wonder what our real purpose is on this planet. Because from where I sit…it is hard to tell why we are here.
12 yrs. ago this month (August) I realized, to my horror and excitement (talk about mixed up emotions!) that I wasn’t straight, I wasn’t bi-sexual (which I thought I was) – I was a Lesbian. Oh crap! For the first time in my life felt like I ‘fit’ in my own skin – and it felt GOOD. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders – I finally knew who I was. But, about 5 minutes later I also realized I had just instantly become: A Second Class Citizen and socially unacceptable to far too many people and religions to count. I was simultaneously thrilled to finally know who I was (and end years of depression and several suicide attempts over it) and deeply afraid and sad because I knew what I had just lost – and I knew what I was going to lose.
Realizing that I had just become a second class citizen and socially unacceptable to the world in general was devastating to me. I am a very (boringly) traditional woman in reality. I believe in family, commitment, marriage, sharing your life with a special someone and raising a family. Marriage in my mind is a lifetime commitment and it saddens me deeply when it doesn’t work out that way. I believe in equality for all. I believe in treating others as I would have them treat me – with respect. But now, I CAN’T get married and I don’t get equality or respect either (except from individuals of a like mind). I am no longer equal in the eyes of the state and federal governments, and I am no longer deserving of respect by the vast majority of Churches/religions out there. Strangely enough I do consider myself a Christian, but more and more that term is becoming very uncomfortable and I am finding myself disliking it more intensely as time goes on because of the behavior of other ‘so-called’ Christians out there who are not acting very Christian like. They give Christians a Bad Name.
One thing that people yammer on and on about is the ‘Gay Lifestyle’. Um…yeah – those of you who use that terminology and think that way are so very wrong. First: go to your dictionary and look up the definition of Lifestyle. My ‘gay lifestyle’ is about as generic as it comes. I have a family, a job, a house and a spouse. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, and I raise my kids. We sit on the couch and watch TV at night or play cards. My home is modestly decorated with family heirlooms and family pictures and lots of spider plants and a beautiful orchid given to me by a friend when my dad died. And No, we don’t have a rainbow flag waving in our front yard. Our ‘lifestyle’ is one of modest living, struggling like everyone else to make a living, paying rent and the bills: You know – like how I lived before I came out only this time my partner (because she cannot legally be my spouse) is a woman and not a man. Many people who are hetero have a lifestyle that is far more extravagant than any gay person I know. Take a look at the famously rich who are out there buying $10,000 purses to carry their pocket dogs in and $50,000 dresses. They spend more in a day on clothing than I make in a month working my ass off. They are flamboyantly extravagant to the point that maybe we ought to ask if THEY are gay because so many people put this flamboyant stereotype on the LGBTQ community. You might want to actually look around: Gay people are living boring, normal lives just like everyone else. We do what everyone else does – we are no different from anyone else except that we are different like everyone else.
Some people have this notion that we ‘Choose’ to be gay. Um – that is like telling a straight person they chose to be straight – or let’s get even more direct (and politically incorrect!): Hey black person – why did you CHOOSE to be black? Don’t you know you will be discriminated against simply because you are black? Hey Woman – why did you choose to be a woman? Don’t you know you will be discriminated against simply because you are woman! Hey person born with a birth defect – why did you CHOOSE to be born with that? Didn’t you know you will be discriminated against simply because you have a birth defect? All of you really need to reconsider this choice and fix it and be different. Be white, be male, be healthy, be hetero – be like the rest of normal, appropriate society!
Doesn’t that sound horribly offensive - and REALLY STUPID? You cannot choose who you are, your gender, your skin color, or your sexuality. You cannot choose where you are born, in what country, into what way of life. You can, however, choose to be accepting of other people and not demand that they be just like you. Just because someone is different from you, has a different belief system, different thought processes, different skin color or a different sexuality – it doesn’t make them less than anyone else. It simply makes us all different from one another. What is wrong with that?
Civil Rights are supposed to be afforded to ALL US Citizens equally. All US Citizens, when they become of legal adult age, can get married. All adults pay taxes and contribute in some manner to our country under legal obligation to do so. Because of that we are all afforded basic civil rights under the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Unless you are gay. If you are gay you still have all the same obligations and responsibilities to the country BUT you are denied many Civil Rights that others take for granted.
Marriage is a legally binding contract and a Civil Right, according to the Federal and State governments. Along with that contract come 1049+ State and Federal rights, benefits and responsibilities. Those benefits, rights and responsibilities provide a myriad of protections that hetero-married couples take for granted. Check these links out for more information on what Hetero couples get that Gay couples are denied (simply because they are gay). See what being Gay REALLY costs you - because it is a lot. (And people actually think we CHOOSE this?? Are they nuts?)
For all those hetero folks who think the Gay Community can ‘get those rights some other way with legal paperwork’ I challenge you to make that work – because you can’t. And I ask you, why should anyone who was born a US Citizen have to pay thousands of dollars to ‘try’ to get some semblance of the rights others get just by marrying someone of the opposite sex? You show me how it can happen with the simple signature on a dotted line with nothing more than a nominal fee (equal to the fee for a marriage certificate please). I seriously doubt you can.
And by the way – all those religious people touting Traditional Marriage are working their sorry little asses off to make sure THEY get to define YOUR Civil Rights based on THEIR beliefs! Traditional Marriage my fanny – take a look in that Bible and then talk to me about Traditional Marriage. With 72 hr marriages (um death do us part?), repeated divorces (Rush is on his 4th wife), adultery (how many political and religious figures have been caught in affairs?) and a 50%+ divorce rate I can see how the Sanctity of Traditional Marriage is working out for the straight community. If this is what Traditional Marriage is I don’t want any part of it. However, I would like to have the Civil Right to Marry the woman I love and spend the rest of my life with her bonded in a legally binding contract that gives us some guarantees, rights and protections we are currently not entitled to simply because we are gay.
Let’s look at the religious issue for a moment. I truly respect another person’s right to believe what they want – even if I don’t agree with that belief. But I take huge offense when those people want to force me and anyone else to live according to their belief system. Your religious beliefs have NOTHING to do with basic Civil Rights afforded by the Federal Government – and you do not have the right to force others to live according to your personal belief system. There is this thing called separation of church and state. If the Church doesn’t want to marry gay people, the state is not going to force them to do so. And the church (no matter how hard it tries) cannot force the State to not allow Marriage Equality (Same-Sex Marriage) based on religious belief. The Church WILL lose this battle – in time. Keep your religion out of my bedroom and out of my Civil Rights. I deserve and demand the same rights I had when I was married to a man. It is what is Right. It is what is Ethical. And the fact is times are changing – and those who use their religion to try and control others – can’t change that fact.
Listen – if you read this far – thank you. The fact is these issues affect me and thousands of others every minute of every day. There are places I won’t go in this country (and on the planet) for fear of my physical safety because I am gay. That is wrong. I do not have equal Civil Rights in a country I was born in because I am gay. Heterosexual immigrants have more rights than I do. That is wrong. People have the legal right to discriminate against me all over the country because I am gay. That is wrong. People joyfully run to a crappy fast food place to support an organization who donates millions of dollars to anti-gay hate organizations in the name of Christianity but refuse to do the same at food banks and homeless shelters. That is seriously wrong. People will, in the name of God judge, promote, support and act in hateful, hurtful ways joyfully and without conscience against the gay community. That is wrong. People use bits and pieces of God’s word to suit their needs and forget the ones that are most important. That is wrong. People openly discriminate and speak hateful things about gay people in front of their children…God help that child if s/he is gay. So deeply wrong on those parent’s part.
Love They Neighbor as Thyself. What would Jesus do? Walk a mile (or even a few feet!) in my shoes. What if you woke up one morning and the world suddenly changed and no longer did you have the right to marry the person you loved most, nor did you have any legal rights to your child, and you could lose your job just for being you – and you couldn’t CHANGE you in order to fit into what society felt was OK. And what if suddenly other people were telling you that you were a horrible person, who deserved to lose your child, or worse – DIE – because you were who you were? Walk a mile in my shoes. It’s scary out there – it’s not fair. It’s wrong. And when someone tells me they don’t think I should have the same Civil Rights because they don’t agree with my ‘lifestyle’?
It’s Offensive. It Hurts. And it is Wrong.