Monday, May 9, 2011

A Confession and A Lesson in Politics (A Conversation with Cami)

Sometimes I get so discouraged. The accuser in my head shouts loudly how ineffective I am as a wife and mom, how much I’m ruining my daughter’s life because she needs a professional, not just her parents … Even posting to the Chosen Families blog becomes more difficult each week as I try to find words–honest and meaningful words–to recount not only the road we’re traveling but also the abundant graces God pours on us as we walk.

These times are when I read through my old journals and blog posts, to remember the beauty, the laughter, to glimpse the brilliance in my daughter and our interactions. I have goals in my writing here, goals to outline the reality behind each of our diagnoses and what the package deal looks like for us.

During weeks like this, weeks when everything I write feels too clinical, or too broad, or too whatever, I read old posts and wrap them around me like a soft, warm comforter. Thanks for letting me share them with you.

A few years back, Cami and I discussed political parties and who to vote for. It was Virginia Primaries Day, and the guy on the radio was discussing Mike Huckabee in a positive light.

Cami: “Mommy, are you going to vote for him?”

Me: “I think so, Honeybear.” She had asked if she could come with me to vote. When I said yes, she found her American Dog in her endless supply of stuffed animals. This particular Beanie Baby was a promotional thing from Hush Puppy. It was a sad-looking hound dog all decorated in red, white, and blue.

Cami: “Who’s Daddy going to vote for?”

Me: “I don’t think Daddy’s going to vote in this election.” Oh, great–how do I explain this electoral college thing?? “This is the election where the two political parties in our country decide who gets to run for President of the United States. Daddy isn’t a member of either party, so he isn’t voting today.”

Cami: “Which kind are you?”

Me: “I’m a registered Republican.”

Cami: “What kind is Daddy?”

Me: “He’s an independent. I don’t think they vote today.”

On we went through our day, attending women’s Bible study, visiting with friends in the afternoon, running errands, then trying to hurry home before the wintry weather arrived. We did go vote together. She didn’t look at the voting machine, but I think she felt some national pride through the process.

[Pause in the Action: Earlier in the day, at her playdate, Cami had her friend spray her with some fruity smelling perfume stuff, and she smelled strong! (Not "strongly," because that's an adverb which would modify "smell" in this sentence. Trust me: Cami wasn't smelling "strongly" or she would have been creeped out at how potent the smell was.

Like I was.)

Okay: Action.]

Cami had this figured out.

Cami: “Well, if you are a Republican, and Daddy is an Independent, then I’m a little of both, because I’m your daughter.”

How sweet my child can be! We went on about our day, and reached home about 4:30, with the icy rain already falling. As we pulled into our parking place, I tried to help Cami transition from the car to the house.

Me: “Cami, when we get inside, it’s going to be Shower Time.”

Cami: “But Moommm (extended to be a three-syllable word), can’t I have my shower at regular time? I promise I’ll go right to sleep afterwards.”

(Can you tell where our battles have been lately?)

Me: “No, Cami, because when Daddy gets home, he’s going to want to spend time with you. If you get the shower out of the way, we can all be together until bedtime.”

Cami: “But Moommm. . .”

Me: “Cami, when you get into the house, I want you to go straight upstairs and get into the shower. No fussing, no complaining. Please obey my words.”

Cami: (quiet for a minute, then) “You know what, Mommy?”

Me: “What, Cami?”

Cami: “I’ve decided that I’m an Independent. ”

My child comes up with the most creative ways to say, “You’re not the boss of me!!”

Epilogue: When we went inside, her fragrance permeated everything. My eyes were burning, the smell was so strong. Candi: “Cami, no negotiation on the shower. You smell pretty strong.”

Cami: “Yeah—I smell so pretty, I stink!”

And my Independent, not Republican, daughter took a shower.

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