I heard this interesting story on NPR the other day.  Three things that hit home with me.

First, the notion that so many factors other than training play into the decision-making process, like sleep and stress. Well, guess what folks: what’s one of the most stressful jobs?

What job has crazy shifts and unusual schedules, the highest rate of divorce, low pay, continued public scrutiny and mandatory overtime?

What job takes fathers and mothers away from kids on Christmas morning and Thanksgiving Day and even Halloween night?

What job involves dealing with people when they are most angry, hurt, scared, doped up, desperate, victimized and helpless? And it’s like this day, after day, after day—nine to ten hours a day. Guns, drugs, blood, guts and hurt children.

You guessed it. The job itself creates many of the stresses that would naturally impact the decision making process of a police officer engaged in a deadly encounter situation.

I am not sure the solution to overcome that part; it’s a bit overwhelming. The argument I always hear is “well, they knew what they signed up for.” And indeed they did (kind of, just like we all knew what we were in for when we had kids if you know what I mean).

So, let’s say they did come fully aware of what a day might be like. Guess what? They still signed up. They still go to work every day. They put on the vest ,they pull on the uniform and they load the gun. Even on days when no one else has to—they do. Even when they are sick, mad, frustrated, tired, dealing with stressful personal problems at home. They have to. If they don’t, who will?

There are not enough of them as it is already. For them, to be the guy that doesn’t show is an issue of officer safety. And, not their safety—but it’s the safety of their brothers they are worried about. There is no room to let down your coworkers here; it could end in the worst way possible. They all need each other too much.

Second, the idea of how few people are actually in a situation where deadly force (or as he refers to, a deadly encounter) is a true possibility. Have you ever really stopped to think what that would be like to clear a creepy old building or respond to a 911 call for domestic violence where you can hear people screaming?

I cannot even go to a haunted house. I cannot even go downstairs at night when I hear a noise. I have never been in a fight (well, except that one at the bus stop in elementary school—not good). I have never been involved in a serious crime. I am sometimes unsure how to even respond to a rude cashier, how would I handle a person on crack, with a gun—with nothing to lose. I don’t know how I would handle it—that’s the point.

Third, rethinking police tactics so that police have more time to think before they have to act—sort of giving more space to the decision making process.

I am all for that. In fact, I think it would help a ton. It would let the adrenaline slow, it would let them take a better inventory of their surroundings and the real threat. But, the truth is, they don’t have time and more often than people want to think about (including me) it’s a him or me moment.

The people most police encounter are not out on a picnic at the park. They are not just doing errands and pulled over for an erroneous stopping charge. I agree this happens—and it shouldn’t. It does happen and it’s wrong but it is such a small fraction of what happens every day with most police interactions.

Most are, unfortunately, with people who are either planning to hurt themselves, someone’s property, other people or the police. Period. That moment to discern “what’s up” is sometimes a split second. And, I believe more often than not, the police make the right choice and they were in danger.

I just don’t feel like the average person knows how out of control most of the people are that the police deal with. I don’t mean hands waving and screaming and running around like a mad man (although that happens—and sometimes it happens and they are naked). But I mean people who have no fear. No regret. No sense of belonging and connection—nothing to live for. Nothing to want to see, do, look forward to for tomorrow. That’s a real problem and creates an incredible reckless culture. I think the real solution needs to start there. Making sure everyone has a place, something to hold on to, and something to aspire to. Aspiration is highly underrated.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wouldn’t you think that after being gone from my kids all day–I left before they even woke up–that I would be so happy to see them that I would roll on the floor, tickling them and laughing, playing games and singing and telling them how fabulous they are? Wouldn’t you think?

Well, I would think too. And I always do think I will do that and it will be great when I get home. But, it never is. In fact, the longer I have been away, it seems the worse my behavior is when I get home. No, I am not rolling on the floor or dancing to silly songs. Instead, I am snapping and yelling at them and they are bickering at each other and throwing punches. Andrew usually cries, unless I hold him. And, of course I try to hold him because I am guilty that I have been gone all day. But, then he just plain gets heavy, even in the sling and I want to put him down. Tears, tears, screams of disappointment (I see therapy in his future).

Being away from home all day, for some reason, makes me overwhelmed when I get home. I really need time when I get home to catch up and cross a few things off my to-do list. Emails to read and respond to, phone calls, and grants to write by Sunday morning (that I haven’t even started). Fridays bring the added element of building my to-do list for the weekend. Really, I should plan to spend Friday afternoons in my office so I can end the day ready to take on the next week (or next morning).

At the end of my day out of the office, I head for home and build great expectations that I will check work at the door and join in family fun. On rare occasions I can. But most of the time, I am sharply disappointed in myself. Today, I have once again let myself down and am ending a day away from home as someone much different than the mom I want to be.

Once upon a time this summer I had grape tomato plants that were thriving.

Then, they have become a morning snack for deer.  They snap them right off…

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…and then, poop in the yard.

Why can’t they eat the weeds, or the peppermint I wish I had never planted six years ago (and that despite numerous doses of Round Up continues to thrive)?

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It’s not like I live in the country. I live in a very busy and developed part of town–a suburb built in the 1970s.

Controlled deer hunt needed soon!  One deer can have up to three fawns a year.  I would estimate we see deer at least five out of seven days a week (alive or at minimum, on the side of the road–you know, dead).

 

I want to start a book review group.  Like a book club, but not really.

Any Indy area peeps interested?  I am thinking we would meet maybe every six or eight weeks and each person bring with them a minimum of two books you have read and would recommend to a friend.  You would need to be prepared to pass those books on to someone who is interested in reading them.

So you bring at least two books.  You give a brief overview or review on each.  Then, anyone interested can borrow it.  In exchange, you get to do the same–listen and borrow someone else’s book.  At the next meeting, you can let the other person know how you liked it.  The hope is you would develop connections with people who have similar reading interests and tastes.

It’s like your own GoodReads, but with hugs.  Sometimes real people in your own community are better than strangers over the internet.  Sometimes.

Monday, February 27, 2006

BFF…Remember back to fifth grade? Best Friends Forever. That is how I used to sign notes in school to Stacey, or letters to Wendy when she was at camp. This is a picture from last summer of Phillip and his friend Mia. Mia is our neighbor and both Samuel and Phillip enjoy playing with her. She is an adventurous little girl who doesn’t mind playing pirates, exploring in the forest or riding shotgun in Phillip’s Gator (other boys always want to drive; Mia likes to ride).

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Mia came over to play yesterday. They have such a great and easy friendship. At five, Mia comes over, they play, she goes home. So, here I am at thirty-three finding myself challenged to develop, maintain, or nurture friendships. Where did I go wrong on this one? I keep trying to think what event in my life made friendships get weird for me (always analyzing…I think I have been to therapy too much in my life).

While I don’t know what even triggered this, I know at some point, I really started thinking that everyone else has plenty of friends–but me. At some point, I grew insecure not about a particular friendship, but about the very idea of friendships. At some point, I just got bad at making friends, and even worse at successfully maintaining friendships.

I meet plenty of people and have lots of acquaintances, but when it comes to developing real friendships, I usually find my self saying things like, “I am sure she already has plenty of friends.” And, at those moments in life when regular people call on their friends, I rarely feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling someone I consider a friend.

How much do I share? At what point? If I call her and ask her to do something and she says no, is she really busy or just doesn’t want to do something? What if she says yes–does that mean she wants to be my friend or is just saying yes for something to do? How many times do I call and extend an invitation after getting nos? How many times do I call, period? Should I call her and then wait for her to call me the next time?

Sounds like I am talking about chasing a man–the same thing, I guess. I want someone that I can share the challenges and celebrations of life with today…and have it mean even more tomorrow. I want to be at the birth of my friend’s child and in the pew the day he or she gets married. I want to be able to be honest about my feelings and concerns (I think sometimes people don’t really want you to be honest, more on that topic another day). I want someone who listens to my petty shit and finds value in it. Yeah, yeah, my husband does that. But I want a female friend to share that with as well.

I try and tell myself I have years to find this friendship, and I cannot make it happen. In fact, one friendship that I really thought was headed for a lifelong connection recently fizzled. I know these things ebb and flow, but this one just isn’t want I had hoped so desperately it was going to be. Maybe one day I will once again find a friendship that offers the joy and innocence of a childhood friendship. Oddly enough, I am still friends with Stacey. That is one of my greatest accomplishments in life. Stacey and I have been friends since we were five (although she lives out of state now).

But, unlike a childhood friendship, which offers memories, I want a friend to share the future with. This is the best time in my life–I want to share these joys, opportunities, and adventures with someone who will be around for awhile. Certainly, there is someone out there that God has in mind to be my forever friend. BFF

 

My business partner and I launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign in the winter of 2014.  That campaign must still be visible on the Kickstarter website and this crazy lady apparently trolls the unfunded campaigns in her spare time just so she can send emails like this.

I thought I would share it so she can have the audience she dreamed of and for my fellow parents who have kids with special needs.  Someone always knows better than we do about our own children, don’t they?

My favorite part? Her two opening sentences (and the part about listen to NPR once in a while…just ask my kids…I listen ALL THE TIME much to their dismay).

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Open yourself to the world and you open yourself to the potential of receiving the above.  People are just that nuts and determined to lash out at someone…anyone…even a stranger.  She clearly doesn’t understand our technology and I would venture to guess that if she had a kid with dyslexia, she would toss money at things like colored glasses and vision therapy.  To each his own, Cra-Cra Carole.  Thanks for reassuring me that I am, in fact, the sane one here.

 

The oldest of my three boys is 13…almost 14.  I am so interested in his room–actually, anyone’s room.  Rooms say so much about one’s personality.  I will one day share Sam’s room (which speaks volumes) and Andy’s room (which quietly whispers of his emerging personal identity-finally separated from his brother’s (Sam’s)).  But today, specimens from a young teenager’s room.

First, pre-bed snacks.  Airheads. Finishing off a box he bought at the last day of the pool.  Guards were selling candy at 75% off.  He cashed in.

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Next to the bed, we have the closet.  I am shocked two drawers are closed.  Usually all three are open.  And, look–hangers.  Although, he apparently doesn’t yet know how to use them.

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And here is the hamper.  Dirty clothes should go in here.  It’s open–in fact, it has a large opening perfectly designed to make a “shot” from anywhere in the room.  But, alas, most clothes are NEAR but not IN the hamper.

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On the other side of the bed, there is a chair.  And the chair serves one purpose: to hold clean clothes he hasn’t yet put away.

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Next to the chair, it’s his towel.  I put about six hooks in his room but inevitably, the towel still ends up on the floor.  Because that’s where towels dry best…when you are 13.  And, below the towel, more dirty clothes.

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Open a door on the Ikea cabinet that practically covers one of his walls and you find “the stash” in it’s full glory.  This kid is good.

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Finally, my favorite.  These are the jars he set up to save money for the future.  There is no money in any of the jars, but just look at the tags and it tells you what he wants for his future…his teenage future.

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I say yes to things like this now.  Why not is all I can ever think of.  Why not?  Life is short and I want to save no for when it really matters.  It has really simplified my life.

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