Who is ultimately responsible?

I have a really low tolerance for a lack of personal accountability in the friends I keep. Part of this is how much I expect of myself, part of it is just how I see the world. There is very few things that will make me feel worse about myself than someone feeling like they let me down, my illness is my responsibility and no one else’s. Terry would disagree, he shoulders a lot of the responsibility of keeping me on the path to being healthy. In fact, he manipulates my actions in a way that I often don’t see or realize. I’d like to think that these times of manipulation are getting less and less frequent, but I don’t know it’s happening so there’s no way for me to answer that.

Anyway, this post is getting off topic. I watched Silver Linings Playbook yesterday, it was good but being the person in Pat’s position I preferred the book. The director and screen writer took the same approach The Notebook did in going from print to screen. There is so much internal dialogue that cannot be properly conveyed; they chose to focus on the people around Pat rather than his own story line. Both pieces are really important and I hope people choose to experience both. Since watching the movie I have experienced a little bit of “who is talking to who” paranoia. It’s not unusual for me to randomly worry about who is discussing and planning my life without talking to me, that’s probably why I so often have chosen to learn things the hard way and not listen to those that know what they’re talking about. It was really interesting to see how the characters in the movie plotted “for” Pat, while I saw it as “against” Pat, it worked out for the best. I knew it did, I read the book but I still took offense to their horrible plotting.

At dinner last night I mentioned how Terry’s grandma sometimes tells stories about his grandfather that upset him. He was bipolar and undiagnosed/untreated for a long time. Terry remembers the man who lived with him and played checkers and chess on hot summer days, his grandma remembers the man who had unpredictable mood swings. They are not the same person. When I mentioned that last night at the dinner table Debbie talked about the process of getting his medication, and ultimately his health, in order. Dave started to look a little sad, I guess Terry’s biological mom had gotten the medication in order years before that, right before she died. He expressed regret that he hadn’t kept up checking on his dad, resulting in the slip. In my mind this is the scene: Terry’s mother was killed with her sister in a tragic, unexpected, and horrifying accident that made national news and changed police chase policy. Dave had two small children to watch for, in addition to caring for himself, in the wake of that awful incident that should have never happened. I don’t know how much he knew about how his dad’s meds were being regulated, at dinner last night he kept saying “it would have taken 5 minutes a day to check in”, but his dad was together. Dave was not his dad’s only child, and if the medications were being regulated properly there were doctors involved. Here’s how I feel about this situation: it was not Dave’s responsibility to care for his dad at that time. The doctor’s should have been more on top of their game, Dave’s siblings should have stepped in and taken over those 5 minutes of conversation, and the ultimate responsibility should have been with Dave’s dad to ask for help when he didn’t understand what was happening.

After dinner I read an article on Healthy Place that said with mental illness you don’t get lasagna. They’re right. We don’t treat this the same way we treat cancer, or pregnancy, or diabetes. I am so lucky to have such an amazing family. My mom read all kinds of books, my aunt is a pharmacist and has helped me out a number of times with medication education. Sometimes its scary, but if I need someone to tell me to get help I have a support system that works really well. I am ultimately responsible for my health, I still feel that way, but I’m really grateful for all my family and friends for being on my life journey with me.

Lessons my son has taught me

Little Shrimp (my sister’s affectionate nickname) is three weeks old. My mom kept telling me that she had things she wouldn’t be able to share until he was here, simply because I wouldn’t understand. Considering I learn best by doing things myself, however awful that may turn out, I love my mom for letting me learn things on my own. So far Terry, Edgar and I have been doing really well adjusting to each other, and it has definitely been a learning curve. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned the last three weeks, in no particular order:

  • Trust yourself. If something is working it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what anyone else says. Parenting comes in many forms and what works for one probably won’t work for the next.
  • If you make a choice to not be frustrated every single time a frustrating or angering situation comes up it is easier to live a less frustrated life. For me this is easier with Edgar than it is with other things, but deep breathing, taking my time, and having terry sew the wipes when they need to be finished seems to help. This is something I did with my students at school too, I actively worked on not being frustrated by them and it lead to a really pleasant classroom experience. I’ll eventually learn how to sew, it’s just more difficult for me to treat myself and inanimate objects with the same kindness I provide to children.
  • Procrastination is the enemy! If I delay pumping my milk supply dwindles, if I delay laundry we run out of diapers and wipes, if I delay feeding my kid turns purple with anger…all of these are necessary to do on time. Something I’m hoping to apply to my schoolwork when I return in the fall, something I did apply to my schoolwork when I had school full time and a job full time. There was no wiggle room for procrastination at that time and there absolutely isn’t now.
  • Really process the joy in little things. This is something I already do a lot, but it’s a lesson worth learning time and time again. The green grass, the bright blue sky, a super awesome rainbow, the sound of rain, my son doesn’t have the ability to take joy in those things yet, but I sure do. Every new thing he learns is a joy too. He’s discovered his arms, he recognizes the shape of the bottle when you show him, he knows different voices and is almost at the brink of playing. I wrote about Silver Linings Playbook a while ago and this lesson was in that book too.

    I’m looking forward to all kinds of new lessons, and I am so grateful that I have not had any postpartum mental health issues!

I’m not a bad mom because…

Cristi Comes, who writes Motherhood Unadorned has a regular series called “I’m not a bad mom because…”. I love this series and regularly read it to keep myself grounded. I have serious guilt some days for my inability to be more attentive and helpful when caring for my little one. My husband has been up every night with him because my Seroquel does not allow me to wake up. In fact, most mornings I’m not even aware enough of my surroundings to give Terry time to sleep before he goes to work. We are so lucky that little Edgar is a sleeper at such a young age. I use the series to remind myself that it’s only been two weeks since I underwent major surgery to remove a 9 and a half pound infant from my insides. Not only that, but this process has changed my hormones which can affect how my medication works. Also I have been adjusting to life at home having taken medical leave from school, and navigating the problem of adjusting the animals to each other and the baby. It’s been quite a journey over the last month or two, and I am extremely lucky to have an amazing support system that understands the complexity of my journey. My medical team is watching me very closely, my husband shoulders most of the burden with no complaints, my father-in-law and mother-in-law watch the baby to give both me and my husband a break, my mom calls on a regular basis, my sister is thrilled about my baby. All of those things combine to help me maintain my sanity.

Eventually I will figure out a better schedule and be more help for my husband, until then I’m not a bad mom because I let other people help me. This is a new process and we are all figuring it out day by day. I am grateful every day for those that help us and those that support us through this process. Life is really good right now, and I’ve decided to make this a “magical unicorn” new baby existence.

Necessary Self Care – Five Facts

Last week Friday while driving back from a late night dinner and trip to the store Terry and I saw our second dead body since moving to Michigan. It wasn’t murder, people around here walk in the street instead of on the sidewalks. Usually they are dressed in all black with no reflective gear at night, so it’s most likely the man we saw did not jump in front of the car the way the last guy did. I still really wish I hadn’t seen his body, we passed the scene before the police or an ambulance was able to reach the scene.

Saturday I was alone with Edgar while my in-laws went to a wedding and Terry was at work. Terry and I were both afraid that Friday nights encounter would damage my mental well-being how the suicide affected me. Luckily that was not the case, my friend Brittany who writes Healthy in Detroit wrote a “Five Facts Friday” post I read on Saturday. It was extremely helpful for my self care that day, providing me with one distraction from the nightmares I’d experienced the night before. Also Edgar was a phenomenal distraction.

I spent Sunday participating in self-care as well. There are small events that make a huge impact on our lives. I wanted to post my own Five Facts, here are 5 positive memories that help me when I need to participate in self-care

  1. I used to read to my brother and sister when we were kids. Around the holidays I read the Bible, I also read Dr. Seuss and some other things. It was something I usually had to force on them, but I really loved reading to them.
  2. My sister and I used to make dance routines to the Olsen Twins songs. This also brought me great joy, though I don’t remember if my sister or I had to be forced into this more often. We almost always used my brother’s room for this because our room was very full of furniture.

  3. When I was in college (the first time) I used to hang out in my friend Will’s room every day after class and watch him and his roommate play Madden. While it seems like a strange memory I really loved those afternoons with Will, he is an amazing guy.
  4. I used to watch my friend Chel bowl on Wednesday nights. While all I did was hang out and eat bowling alley food, those were some of the best nights I had during that time of my life.
  5. Terry and I used to go to the bar a lot when we were first together, there were a lot of nights where we met people we never would have met otherwise, and never met again after the night ended. We shared drinks, food, and kisses with many people, resulting in many hilarious memories like the guy who insisted he wasn’t wearing stripes in railroad pants.
  6. All of these memories seem inconsequential, and kind of make it seem like I have a very sad existence not really participating in life. I assure you, these memories are simply a small snapshot of my life. I participate in my life as any healthy person should, but these small seemingly inconsequential memories remind me of things and people I love. These are things through my whole life that made my life happy, my Five Facts that I use for my self-care.

Hiatus for a worthy cause

I’ve taken a small hiatus from this blog in favor of my family blog because on Monday April 8 little Edgar Murphy was born! We ended up having a c-section for reasons I won’t get into here, but he was 9 lbs 8 oz and our announcement and gender reveal could not have gone more perfectly. The real part of the whole process I want to talk about is my medication and how my schizo-affective disorder was handled by the staff. I’ve read all kinds of horror stories about hospitals treating people horribly for needing to treat their psychiatric disorders during pregnancy. I’ve written about the devastating reactions people have had to my illness and my choice to have children. Strangers are even more vocal about my decision to be medicated during pregnancy. I have an amazing medical team and home support system. They have supported me and educated me through the whole process of this pregnancy; I couldn’t have made it through without them.

I had to switch hospitals three-quarters of the way through this process. Fortunately, I didn’t have to switch OB offices, just doctors. I would recommend the office I went to for anyone going through pregnancy, high risk or not. I’ve heard all kinds of judgmental comments about my medications and how they were going to affect my unborn child from strangers in the medical community and in the general public. I was really nervous that the staff, who had only met me a few times, would make assumptions about me based on my diagnoses and medication. It sounds really scary to leave a newborn with someone who has a tendency to hallucinate. Even worse to leave them with someone who has a problem with frustration and anger stemming from a mental illness.

The staff were kind to me through the whole process of my c-section surgery, my husband was there and they recognized how much help he is to me. He kept me calm through the fear of the surgery, he took the pictures that I wanted so badly, he comforted me and cared for Edgar simultaneously immediately afterwards in the recovery room. Over the next few days he took the lead in caring for Edgar and never left my side for the two days I was in the postpartum recovery room. The nurses saw that. I honestly believe it made a huge difference in their decision to call social services or not. The last day I was in the hospital my nurse sat and talked to me for a few hours about breastfeeding, which it turns out I can do even with Seroquel, she expressed concern about the stress breast feeding can cause new mothers. I’ve decided that I’m not going to be stressed out with my new baby. We’ve gotten so lucky that we have a calm baby that sleeps quite a bit, I’m lucky that my husband is so wonderful and cares for our baby through the night, we’re lucky that we live with my in-laws who are amazing. As a result I’ve been able to be the calm mother that I want to be and the hospital told me I would be.

I’ve been so worried about postpartum psychosis this whole pregnancy, the medications and the medical team have come together at exactly the right time. Honestly, I do a lot better mentally when I have something or someone to care for, my cats have saved my life more than once. I have been taking great care to do things that might initiate frustration when people are around and can help me if I start to lose my cool. So far at one week old life is good for both parents and little Edgar.edgar_mom_dad

Silver Linings Playbook

I have yet to see this movie, mostly because it isn’t at the dollar cinema where I live yet, but after reading the book I’m scared it will not be as good as I hope. It’s a silly fear, but any time a book really gets me I feel this way. I’m someone who has read a lot of memoirs. They’ve been mentioned on my blog, writings from Kay Redfield Jameson, Ken Steele, Terri Cheney…they all affect me in such an honest and profound way. The effect of Silver Linings Playbook was no different. I absolutely loved being provided the perspective of Pat Peoples. Seeing his family through his eyes, the way he was treated through his eyes, and with his limited ability to read emotions was spot on for how I feel when I am in my own “bad place”. While he only mentions the bad place in reference to the hospital, I identified that with the bad place my brain escapes to when I’m not doing well. We all get trapped in ourselves, we all hold on to hopes that are unrealistic. The process of coming out of that is extremely similar for everyone, mentally stable or not. We have to shatter our expectations, anticipate our lives going in a different, learn how to accept that and grieve for what we thought we needed. While I wish I had known about this book much sooner, it was a perfect thing for me to read it while I’m in this time of my life. I identified with having uncomfortable personal relations at home in a way that might have been detrimental before I went to inpatient treatment in January. I don’t know what the result will be for me from this book and movie, I’m so susceptible to external forces. I ran away from home while reading Ken Steele’s book, Terri Cheney’s book started a manic phase, Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jameson landed me in the hospital for sucidal ideation, but there are a number of things that I’m choosing to take away from this book.

  • “If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying.” – Giving up is not a real option. Life continues and sometimes you need to readjust your plans or thoughts, but dark times don’t always mean dark things coming.
  • “Life is hard, and children have to be told how hard life can be…So they will be sympathetic to others.” – This is a lesson I very much want my child to learn. Everyone has their hard times, everyone has things you don’t know or understand. Kindness can go a long way.
  • “You need to make time for your family no matter what happens in your life” – Family is family. Period. Sometimes it’s the family you create, rather than those you are born with, but it is always important to reach out and maintain a relationship with them. They will help keep you grounded, they will love you, they will try to understand.
  • “When she needed help most, she was abandoned–and only when she offered help to others was she beloved.” – Reaching out to others in their time of need is vital for remembering there is suffering outside of yourself. People recognize true sympathy and kindness and will repay that with love and respect.
  • “…I am now watching the movie of my life as I live it.” – Live life, don’t watch it pass you by. Be an active participant and be present in the moment.
  • “I am practicing being kind over being right.” – Sometimes right isn’t important. Kindness works equally well for helping people understand things that are messy and not easy to comprehend.

Family on a Friday Holiday

I’ve been bordering on depressed lately, being on bed rest to avoid pre-eclampsia is so boring. This morning I made a joke on Facebook and got snapped at in a comment, which did not help the depressed feeling at all. I deleted my joke and all prior comments and likes on the post because I have a bad habit of getting into arguments on facebook with that person, and now they have someone else to back them up that thinks exactly like they do. It’s not worth the fight, but it definitely makes me feel alone.

This afternoon, though, my mom called me and that was so helpful. I was actually bordering on afraid to talk to my mom, sometimes I get like that when I feel really alone. I can get super needy and call too much which can be stressful and difficult to deal with, so that is something I’ve been working on changing. The result often leads to me feeling like I have no one. I digress, the result of the conversation with my mom was feeling better. What I really love about my mom is she takes my faults for what they are and still loves me and helps me. I’m sure it’s taken 30 years of practice to handle the mess I can be sometimes, but she’s been there through everything. When I explained my fear of giving birth to Beastly is beginning to feel like the fear I had when I realized my anesthesiologist was male at 18 she knew what I meant. She was there and saw how I reacted. She also knows better than to try and explain things that are beyond my understanding. She told me today that there are things she can’t explain right now because I won’t understand until later.

Not long after that Debbie let me know Lisa got the Easter package sent to Madilyn and they were skypeing. I joined everyone downstairs and it was really fun to see my niece playing. Normally I feel really out of place during those sessions. There’s very little shared history, the traditions are different, the whole family structure is different from mine. The love is the same, but there’s a lot I don’t understand and have trouble adjusting to because my social skills are non-existent. Today I still didn’t say much, but I felt more like I belonged there. It’s hard for me to feel a part of my own family, trying to feel a part of a family that I’ve never grown up with is extremely difficult for me.

Today my mom described it as shyness, I think it may be a lack of trust in people. I’m constantly waiting to be hurt, waiting for that moment when people will let me down. Even though today started out bad, with me feeling depressed by avoiding a Facebook fight, it ended up being a really nice and inclusive holiday. People always think I’m strange because Good Friday is my favorite holiday, but to me the whole Easter Holy Week is about family. Today was a great Good Friday.

I love my family, all of my family, for being so kind with words and feelings. I love my mom for the way she treats me, and Debbie for sending Easter cards in the mail, even though she lives with us. I love both of them for being really sensitive about how difficult things can be for me. They both are so sweet with presents, not expensive things, but little things. Handmade cloth baby wipes, Cadbury eggs, my old outfit from my favorite baby pictures, a chocolate chip muffin…those things mean more to me than anything else.

Idealism at it’s best

I’ve been told by a lot of people that I am too idealistic. I don’t see why that’s such a bad thing, except that it makes me obnoxious to just about every person I meet that has really strong feelings about anything. There are the people who believe in keeping religion out of school, the people that believe in keeping religion in school, people that don’t believe or do believe in gay marriage, do or don’t believe in races being different…the list probably will never end. I have a serious problem with the media and a huge issue with just about anything political. I really want my kid to grow up in a world that doesn’t have huge distinctions between people.

I’m not stupid so I have no belief that this is going to happen outside of my house, but in my house terms like reverse-racism and gay marriage won’t exist. Marriage, in our current society, is based on love. In my house that love can happen between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man, I can even tolerate teaching my kid about polygamy in an age appropriate manner. Racism is still racism regardless of who is doing the hate. In my house that kind of hate will not be tolerated. Last May I was kind of relieved to realize that my religious intolerance for the Catholic church stems not only from what I have heard on the news, but also a prejudice I’d learned through childhood experiences. That’s something that I’m working on, it’s not very easy for me so it will take a while.

In my world we would celebrate each others differences, each season at school would be a great learning experience for all students in the class about their friends and classmates holidays and traditions. Not only religious, but also family traditions. In the summer one student might go camping, another to the Bahamas, in the fall they might hunt or make applesauce. To me it doesn’t matter why the student follows those traditions or what the traditions are, just that everyone’s experience is equal and should be treated as such. That’s what my kid is going to learn and that is how I’m going to expect them to behave in the world. They might get bullied for that, but it’s possible that they will end up with my brother’s swagger and charm or my sister’s strength of character and vociferous compassion. Any of those qualities will give them a great chance at not dealing with bullying themselves and protecting those around them from others that bully.

Suicide as young as 13

Today in Southgate, Michigan a young life was taken. Because of this my Facebook blew up with lamentations of how the school doesn’t do enough about bullying, the schools don’t provide enough information about where to get kids help, constant pushing the problem off on to someone else. There were assumptions made about bullying, or not being shown enough love, it felt like people needing quick excuses for why something so difficult to process would happen.

I don’t hide much about my mental illness, and I shared with those people that when I was his age the only reason I didn’t try to commit suicide was because 1) I knew I would fail and 2) I felt I was put on Earth to suffer. I had done something incredibly wrong and never once questioned that God put me here to repay the debt I owed for what I had screwed up. If I’m going to be completely honest, I still feel like that sometimes. It’s a hard thought to keep out of my head when I’m not doing well. I’m working really hard at seeing God in a different light, but I have had a really difficult time returning to church for that exact reason. Continuing to high school I was an open cutter. Back then there weren’t a whole lot of resources available about cutting, but I regularly got sent to the social worker’s office. It got so bad that I skipped the guidance counselor and was sent directly to the office with the overweight, weird smelling social worker that said “you dress well, your grades are good, you shower, go back to class”. My issue with the school system from when I was kid is they should have called my parents to let them know how often I was being sent to that office. Beyond that I have no issue with the way the school handled things. I was not bullied the way a lot of kids were, my husband had it way worse than I did, mostly because I had some serious back up I didn’t even hear about when people made fun of me. This means the bullying was not an issue in my case, also the thought that parents should be more involved would not have helped me. We had family dinners every night, when my Grandpa Marv died and therapy was recommended I went, the therapist missed the signs of needing to send me to another therapist. My parents did a lot of things right. When I would have allowed my dad to beat me out of defiance, spanking stopped and I was instead placed in the corner; the best punishment option for someone with mental illness that needs to cool off.

Here’s my issue with what’s going on in discussion about this boy. No one knows what he was going through. It could be related to bullying, it could be related to home life, but my guess is to get this bad this boy needed medical attention. At 13 this is really difficult to determine, the treatment options for a kid involve a lot of psychotherapy and medications only when the situation gets really bad. Most medications are not tested on, or recommended, for kids under 18, most diagnoses can not be determined until adulthood. There is just too much going on in the teenage brain. In fact, without previous family history getting into a facility for help can be damn near impossible. In my case my bipolar disorder has recently been “upgraded”, if you will, to schizo affective disorder. There is no family history, and while there were all kinds of warning signs in my childhood there was no way to determine those were different than any other teen angst or child tantrums. My kid will have an advantage in the sense that not only do me and my husband know what to look for, we also have a whole support system set up for them. There are people who know how difficult my battle has been, they know my fears of yelling at my child for no reason, they know how terrified I am of any post-partum illness, but in particular psychosis and paranoia. There is family on both their dad’s side and my side, god parents, and friends of both me and their father that will tell them if I’m being irrational or if they are being a rotten brat. All kids push their limits and act like brats sometimes, I’m completely expecting to be overwhelmed by that. Everyone that is nearby to help with that knows how Terry and I want our child to be raised and will be able to act as surrogate parents when that break is needed for my sanity and theirs.

Through that kind of support system this type of situation can be completely avoided. Also, I was reminded of this situation of bullying today while watching an auction show with an outfit from the 501st. Katie and her mother inspire me so much, that is how you are supposed to take care of bullying. I hope to someday inspire my child to follow their interests the way that her mother did. Likely not on such a large scale, but there are so many ways to encourage and inspire your child that have absolutely nothing to do with the school stepping in.

Why does one need a college education to discuss difficult things?

On Saturday I was hanging around with some family, there was drinking happening so some of the conversation was not as open as I would normally appreciate. A lot of it was yelling when there was disagreement, and involved informing me that children are incapable of discussing and understanding difficult concepts, that those concepts should be left for college classes only. My problem with those conversations is they are not really conversations. It’s me being told that I’m wrong and when I try to defend my position there is yelling and I never get the opportunity. I’m not new to this kind of conversation, when I was 18 I taught Sunday school at my church. I got the pleasure of running a classroom of 30 3-year-olds, on a good Sunday, by myself because my aids never showed up. There was a little boy with autism in the 4-year-old class right next to mine and he would come over and play with the toys in my room. My kids were not allowed to play with the toys because they didn’t belong to the church, they belonged to the preschool. When he would come in I sat down next to him, said “no” and took the toy, returning it to it’s place. I would do this three, four, sometimes five times before he got bored and went back to his classroom. Sometimes it took longer so I would escort him back around the folding wall. One of the occasions where I escorted him back his teacher informed me that I was not allowed to tell him no. Didn’t I know he was autistic? There was no way that he could possibly understand, and because of that it was unfair of me to expect him to listen. I made the mistake of telling the woman, 12 years my senior and a mother, that he was four years old. At four every child can understand the word no and by not starting that early she would be damaging him later. What would happen when he got to puberty, experiencing feelings that he really couldn’t understand? At that point he needs to know the word no. She was really offended, it was probably partially a teenager correcting her, and partially the insinuation that this child would at some point have sexual urges that would be more difficult for him to learn how to control. Saturday I found myself in another one of these conversations.

My husband’s high school cousins are incredibly smart, fascinating, interesting people. Their parents take such an interest in their education and I’m positive that interest is what has caused them to be such amazing people. There is a rise in charter schools in the area I live in now because the public schools are terrible. There are some teachers that are phenomenal, I’ve worked with some at Wayne State, and some that it seems have never been educated themselves. Unfortunately, the charter school one of the cousins attends had great ideals when they started and he began his education there and has since severely declined. There are teachers that can’t speak the English language properly teaching both English classes and speech and debate. The other problem with this area is serious racism and xenophobic word vomit. This comes from all races, all cultures, all nationalities in the area. People talk a lot about discrimination and reverse discrimination, but really what it seems to be is fear and hate. Outside of my mental illness I’ve never experienced that against me, or within me.

That was a huge digression to explain what made me so angry on Saturday. The teacher that can’t teach English is apparently afraid of the black kids that come to the school from Detroit. I completely understand the fear, but my opinion is it isn’t the fact the kids are black, it’s because they are from Detroit and Detroit is a scary place. A lot of the kids that come from that area are rough, they have had little to no hope in their lives, little to no inspiration, role models are almost non-existent, even their politicians are felons. These kids wanted to debate if it was ok to use the word nigger within their own community. There were some kids in the class that were uncomfortable with the topic, but the teacher allowed it and went so far as to tell the kids that were uncomfortable with the topic they would be downgraded for not participating. That is a difficult topic for people to handle, but if done properly it can be a constructive and useful discussion for any age. Obviously the teacher in question is not capable of facilitating this kind of discussion, obviously this would not be constructive and would only make the racist and xenophobic nature of the area worse, but on Saturday I was told that under no circumstances can a high school class handle a discussion like that. That conversation should apparently be reserved for college classes only.

My problem with that opinion is by college a lot of these racist and xenophobic thoughts are not easily reversed. Beyond that, while I loved college, and have chosen to spend the majority of my adult life in some sort of higher education program, it isn’t for everyone. The person that said that to me has nothing more than a technical degree. Why would you want to waste money on a class like that when you are studying a technical field where it would be completely worthless? What about the people that never go to college? Should they be completely left out of ever educating themselves on difficult pieces of our language or history? I didn’t learn about why the Jewish community was attacked by Hitler until a college math class where we were learning about inflation. How is that acceptable? If we had an open discussion about differences in religion, mental capabilities, disease, race, language and how it can be hurtful, at all ages we would be a much more accepting world.

I think I’m going to be a disappointment as a mother to some of my husbands family. My kid will likely never believe in Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and they will be able to discuss really difficult topics with intelligence and poise. I will likely never talk baby talk, and never hold back answers from my child. I understand the need for things to be age appropriate, but I have no desire to shelter my child from things that might be painful to discuss. My kid will never need to be a certain age or education level to understand why the world can sometimes be really cruel, and that cruelty is wrong.