bluffs, beads, bugs and bellies

We’re going to miss a deadline tonight, as the House apparently has no plans to vote on anything important today. The President called a big old bluff played by a bunch of big old babies. Perhaps a greater share of our public has woken up, given the sight of this game. Perhaps now more are paying attention to who bears a tad more blame for some absurd gridlock. Perhaps. Perhaps, if the country endures a rocky fiscal start to 2013, they’ll hold people in office accountable, in a less screechy, less costumed manner than that of a random grouping of hot beverage lovers.

I’m not holding out hope. Expectations were so low, nobody is surprised. I’m numb to it now.

Here’s something exciting, though: Our daughter is preparing to host her first slumber party on Friday. She’ll be Eight. Such a big number. We went to a bead store today and picked out materials for her girlfriends and her to make bracelets–seed beads, memory wire… I had suggested some little silver charms for the ends, but leave it to our daughter to go for far sparklier items–crystals, for pete’s sake! These bracelets are going to be nice. We picked out a leather cord, shark’s tooth, and skull and crossbones charm for her brother, too. She’s very, very excited.

And she’s recovered from pink eye, caught last week. I finally got the hang of administering her eye drops so as to cause her minimal discomfort. I told her that the drops were just doing to the “bugs” in her eyes what her brother says he’ll do if he ever sees bad guys: “punching them in the bellies!” She giggled at that.

All told, she says the entire week is her “best ever.” Tonight we’re even heading to a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party, with a backyard fire pit and everything. Their first New Year’s party. The two kids are thrilled. They’re getting so big.

In 20 or 30 years when our entitlement programs are smaller, when our planet’s temperature is higher and our climate is even more chaotic, they’ll be hitting their stride, professionally, socially, emotionally. Tonight, as they eat their pizza and chomp on strawberries and apples, there are all these guys in DC, delaying tough decisions and posturing and lying and hiding.

I just want to punch some bellies.

Instead I’ll just wish you and yours a Happy New Year. It will be happy. It will be good. Our children say so.

Slumber parties, autism, and hurricanes

What do you do when you’re scared?

If you’re the mother of a seven-year-old girl, and that girl is about to head to her first slumber party, you gather all the information you can and try to control for every contingency. I called the hosting mother, asked a million questions, asked other friends for advice, and, having been told that there would be a handful of girls there (five), there would be some arts and crafts activities, and bedtime between 8 and 9, we agreed to let our daughter go. We dropped our daughter off last night, and my husband and son waited in the car while I took our daughter to the house. I’d never been to the house before, had only met the mother a couple times, and didn’t know her significant other. Upon arrival, I was intent on scanning that house and taking note of every detail in a manner that would make Jason Bourne proud. Inside of five minutes, I learned that my daughter’s friend’s older brother and his friend would also be there (fourth graders), there would be 10 (!!!) girls there who would all stay the night, there would be swimming (we didn’t pack a swimsuit) and they had a dog (a small one, but our girl can be skittish). There would also be neighbors (who I didn’t know) coming to the house to help with the party. I was, with all these new and not yet considered facts, stricken.

If you’re say, a former centerfold and scared for your son who has autism, you might, much like the mom of a slumber partier, create a situation in which you know all the answers and assume you can make things better. I wonder what she thinks of all the new (and accurate) information about her son’s diagnosis. Like the New York Times report earlier this week: A new study “provides support for the argument that the surging rate of autism diagnoses over recent decades is attributable in part to the increasing average age of fathers, which could account for as many as 20 to 30 percent of cases… Unlike other theories proposed to explain the increase, like vaccinations, it is backed by evidence that scientists agree is solid.” Or this opinion piece, which posits that “at least a subset of autism — perhaps one-third, and very likely more — looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.” Do the outbreaks of whooping cough give her pause?

If you’re a scared resident in a low-lying area in the path of a hurricane or tropical storm, you might, much like that former centerfold, simply go with what you know and do what you can do–even if it means putting yourself and others at grave risk. My husband and I watched “Witness: Katrina” on the National Geographic channel last night. It’s still hard to believe what happened seven years ago, so hard that as we watched, we still kept exclaiming, “why didn’t they leave?” I actually looked it up, and found a study that concludes “that all action is—and should be understood as—a product of what the individual can do given the resources of the sociocultural context. Understanding that many people who stayed in the hurricane-affected area could not simply choose to evacuate could have promoted a more timely and effective disaster prevention and relief effort.”

We’re all the same when we’re scared. We all want our own version of control.

The hosting mother of the slumber party? She had our daughter call us at 8:40 p.m., and posted pictures and videos from the party shortly thereafter, letting us all know that the girls were all asleep by 9:45.

I slept soundly, too.