“Love, Like Me!”

I wrote this story some time ago about my oldest child. Although my story relates to filial love rather than romantic love, I still thought it was suitable for Valentine’s Day, and because the T-shirt referred to in the story is a Ron Paul rEVOLution shirt, I couldn’t resist posting it! [this post is part of my effort to restore my posts after the Wordpress purge]

“That says ‘LOVE,’ like me!”

Two years after my son Luke was born, we went on vacation to a family-friendly resort in Mexico. While I was swimming in the big pool with Luke, a woman came up to me and said, “How old is he, Mom?” I said, “two.” She bade me follow her and led me to her family. She introduced me to her husband, her two daughters and her son, a real corn-fed looking blonde teenager who had Down syndrome, like Luke. I was still struggling to understand what life would be like with a child who had Down syndrome so I was happy to meet her son, but as had happened before when I met people with Down syndrome, I was completely lost trying to communicate with him. His language was totally unintelligible to me. As a well-educated person and voracious reader with the gift of gab, all of my interest in human interaction consisted of exchanging ideas. I couldn’t get anywhere with this kid and finally gave up. I asked the parents a few questions beginning to think about politely exiting. As the conversation was winding down they mentioned what a joy their children were to them, and pointing to their son, now back by the pool, the father said, “Just look at him, he’s all love!” But all I saw was a boy with a chromosomal abnormality with whom I could not imagine having any kind of relationship. I truly could not see what they saw, but I was comforted to think he made them feel good.

Six years have passed and Luke is a beautiful, articulate, charming 8-year-old boy. But does he ever keep me running! He gets into trouble every chance he gets, often darting from the scene, mischievously looking over his shoulder to get a kick out of me dashing after him or catching a falling bookcase or battling whatever mayhem he left in his wake. He wasn’t potty trained until he was 5 ½, he needs continuous supervision at school so he doesn’t escape (he was found blocks from the school on two occasions last year), and he will dump his food on the floor just to watch the dogs come running. No matter when he goes to bed he gets up at 5:30 a.m. and will empty his dresser drawers if no one hears him stirring. In short, this kid is a lot of work…but it’s worth it. Luke is hilarious and sweet and oh-so-cute. And he really is smart and clever and surprises us all the time. But I will say this for having a child this demanding: You have to be dedicated! It puts a strain on your marriage and requires that your other children make many sacrifices, but when it goes right, you can see how everyone in the family becomes richer for the adventure.

Nowadays I love to see other families who have children with Down syndrome. Those kids put a smile on my face. So not long ago, when my husband and I had the opportunity to grab a quick bite at Chick-fil-A–just the two of us–he pointed out to me a young man who had Down syndrome sitting with his family on the patio. The boy looked healthy, happy, composed and confident. I got a closer look at him as he walked past us through the restaurant to get something he needed from the counter. As he walked by I observed, “Everything that boy is, all that he can do, is the result of love. All his confidence and competence is the product of the people who love him taking great pains, time, effort and patience to make sure he could do what he needed to do and do it right and be proud and secure about who he is and his place in the world.” It touched me deeply to see in that one boy with his straight back and purposeful gait the years of love and selfless devotion his family must have committed to him. I hoped my own efforts would be that fruitful.

A few weeks later, my husband put on a shirt and in the design appeared the word “Love.” Luke looked at it and said, “Look Dad, your shirt says ‘love,’ just like me!” He laughed to me, “Luke’s so funny—he knows he’s LOVE.” And in my mind’s eye I remembered the woman at the pool and her husband, and I recalled her son and, clear as day, I saw what they saw.

 

 

Update (2/23/2019):

I sent this to a friend who has a son with Down syndrome…I told him it was NSFW but he didn’t listen! I was genuinely moved by his comments so I am sharing them here…it’s true–once you have a child with Down syndrome you are just drawn to them–you run up to them in grocery stores & freak their parents out! It’s a real phenomenon!! Truly, these kids are gifts from God…

OMG! I loved this article and can relate to all of it! The unknowing, the Chaos, the strain on every aspect of life, but the true LOVE that these amazing humans are and display, trumps all of those bad days, moments and weeks of unending, frustrating, hair pulling and teeth-gnashing times of struggle to learn, eat, use the bathroom, obey simple commands etc. etc. etc. I truly feel that my worldly perspective changed for the better the day Josh was born. Now when I see anyone with DS, I’m finding ways to get closer and interact with them, drawn to them like a magnet! Thank you for sharing this, i’m crying at work by the way….

To Whom Gratitude?

 

squanto_corn
A simple lesson in cultivation from the Indians to the Pilgrims surely improves our lot to this day–just another contribution from humans gone before for which I am grateful.

I always find Thanksgiving posts hard to write. How can you identify what you’re thankful for without bragging? How can you express the depth of your gratitude without seeming preachy? Maybe you can’t, but so often throughout the year I will jot down a note, “include this in Thanksgiving post!” There really is so much to be grateful for. So I will swallow my prideful desire not to seem preachy or braggy, and offer my thoughts on gratitude this Thanksgiving Day….

 

“Sometimes I get angry over how high my taxes are, then I look at the roads and the streetlights and think, ‘We have so much–I should pay my fair share.'” That’s what one of the dads at my daughter’s soccer game said to me and it’s a thought that had occurred to me too. Elizabeth Warren tapped into that sentiment in 2011 with her famous rant:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory….Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea—God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

I really can’t go into all the false assumptions underlying Warren’s diatribe, but there is an underlying feeling each of us has that she is exploiting: I was born naked and there is no way on earth that in my short life I could have invented every modern convenience and produced every item I own. In other words, I have more than I deserve. This is true. It is also true in a way that I have less than I deserve. Let me explain, lest I seem ungrateful on this day of gratitude.

There are roughly 7 billion people on earth. There have been somewhere around 125 billion humans altogether. The vast majority of those people had to produce or die. Families and other social units help even out the lumps on how and when each person’s product is used to sustain him or her, but in the end, everyone who can is expected to produce. As improvements in the means of production accumulate, the product of each unit of labor increases and surplus is born. Surplus. The source of all wealth. And the source of all parasitism. As Nock put it,

There are two methods or means, and only two, whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means. …The State…is the organization of the political means.

To the extent our ancestors produced surplus goods or developed technology by which we ourselves could produce surplus, we have benefited from the labor of others. To the extent the State redistributed this surplus to its cronies, others have benefited from the efforts and inventions of our forebears at our expense. Warren’s rant actually hints at the injustice we suffer at the hands of the State, which creates mismatches between effort and gain. It is not “society” (read: the State) to whom we should be grateful, as Warren suggests, but the individuals who actually contributed by employing their God-given talents to the betterment of life on earth.

Do I deserve to live vermin-free with air conditioning in a house with a leak-proof roof? I wouldn’t say I deserve it or don’t deserve it. Do I do it according to the rules of property ownership? Yes. Do I benefit from the legacy of over a hundred billion human beings before me who created surplus for their progeny? YES! And I can only imagine if suppressed interest rates and government-funded oil wars and subsidized infrastructure didn’t generate hyper-consumption, how many perfectly good old structures (a legacy of the surplus left us by our forebears) would still be standing, freeing us up to do other things; or if that hyper-consumption together with redistribution of wealth and cronyism didn’t misallocate resources and skew incentives, how much more discretionary time and money we would have to nurture our relationships or spend time really achieving our human potential to philosophize or to try to gain insight into the true nature of God.

Ms Warren’s suggestion that the central planners grease the wheels rather than gum up the works rings false to this libertarian. However, though she misplaces the credit, it doesn’t mean gratitude is not in order.

I grew up the youngest of nine in a small, stuffy house with many people, little privacy and limited resources. Even so, I was grateful that I had enough to eat and clothes to wear and wasn’t dying of exposure out on the street and didn’t have flies landing on my eyeballs like the pictures of Ethiopian kids we saw on TV back then. And now I am grateful every single day for so much more. From hot showers and a warm bed, to the strength and health to do the mountains of work it takes to raise my kids and dogs and fish and turtle (the turtle is way more work than I thought it would be!) I work with joy out of gratitude for the very ability to work. And I am very, very grateful for all the people I love, for the opportunity to add value (from picking up dog poop to writing this post), for the comforts I enjoy, for good nights’ sleep, and for literally a thousand other things–maybe a million!

I also always try to remember to whom I must be grateful. God first, of course; then my husband, my parents, my grandparents, their parents (and so on); my siblings, my friends, my children; the great thinkers, the defenders of truth and justice, those who offer examples of courage and dignity, those educators who work hard to help my children cultivate what is noble in them…For each thing that elicits my gratitude, I know there is a person (more likely many people) in this world or in our past who contributed to that improvement in my existence. My hope is that I, and my children, and their children (and so on), can add ourselves to that list of unnamed humans with joy and gratitude for our ability to make our own small contributions in turn.

So yes, Elizabeth, we should “pay it forward,” freely and with joy, out of gratitude to those who themselves contributed freely and with joy to this wonderful world and to our ability to enjoy it and to appreciate it.

With sincere humility and gratitude, I wish you a

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

For my previous Thanksgiving posts, click:

Thankfulness Is in the Eye of the Beholder

A Thanksgiving Reflection

 

Emailgate: The only 2 things I find interesting about Hillary’s emails…

Apparently, Hillary is coming under pressure for using a (kind of) personal email account for State Department business. Given that David Petraeus, the HEAD OF THE CIA, used all the tricks in the book to keep his emails secret, yet they were splashed all over the front page of every newspaper in the country, as Hillary herself might say, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I really don’t know. I figure this is just another distraction from a real issue, but I’m taking a break from the rabbit hole this week. I did, however, find two things noteworthy about one of the personal emails Hillary received…

hrcmail1

1. Lynn Rothschild was worried about Hillary’s health. Lynn Rothschild? Baroness Rothschild? I don’t know if the Rothschilds or the Rockefellers actually run the world, but I’m pretty sure rubbing elbows with that gang doesn’t betoken an objective pursuit of “liberty and justice for all” from one of the most powerful members of the US government.

2. The second point is maybe a little nitpicky. (If so, please let me know in the comment section.) Hillary’s email address is hdr22@clintonemail.com. HDR is for Hillary Diane Rodham. When I first got married, I did not take my husband’s name. I was a professional and I liked my name. After my first child was born with Down syndrome and my husband really got us through a tough time, it occurred to me that taking his name might mean something to him and might be a gesture of love and gratitude. And so Monica Perez was born. I think he liked it 🙂 Hillary, on the other hand, took her husband’s name when it was politically expedient to do so. It kind of bummed me out on a couple of levels. For all her feminist militancy, it seemed to show that she was willing to use her status as consort to the President to improve her political status among the philistines who think a woman “belongs” to her husband. Furthermore, when she became senator in New York (my home town), I felt it was, in effect, her sleeping her way to the top: There is simply no way she would have gotten that gig if it weren’t for her husband’s position. So I didn’t like it, but I did get over it. I still dislike both her stated politics and her political hypocrisy, but I got over her name. I am now wondering, however, if she ever did! This little email dust-up makes me think that 20 years later, she still thinks of herself as Hillary Diane Rodham, symbolizing to me that she continues to play to what she views as our sensibilities even though she has contempt for them. Maybe I’m reading too much into it – what do you think?

hdr22@clintonemail.com – How A Romanian Hacker Exposed Hillary Clinton’s Secret Email Life

Emailgate: The only 2 things I find interesting about Hillary's emails…

Apparently, Hillary is coming under pressure for using a (kind of) personal email account for State Department business. Given that David Petraeus, the HEAD OF THE CIA, used all the tricks in the book to keep his emails secret, yet they were splashed all over the front page of every newspaper in the country, as Hillary herself might say, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I really don’t know. I figure this is just another distraction from a real issue, but I’m taking a break from the rabbit hole this week. I did, however, find two things noteworthy about one of the personal emails Hillary received…
hrcmail1
1. Lynn Rothschild was worried about Hillary’s health. Lynn Rothschild? Baroness Rothschild? I don’t know if the Rothschilds or the Rockefellers actually run the world, but I’m pretty sure rubbing elbows with that gang doesn’t betoken an objective pursuit of “liberty and justice for all” from one of the most powerful members of the US government.
2. The second point is maybe a little nitpicky. (If so, please let me know in the comment section.) Hillary’s email address is hdr22@clintonemail.com. HDR is for Hillary Diane Rodham. When I first got married, I did not take my husband’s name. I was a professional and I liked my name. After my first child was born with Down syndrome and my husband really got us through a tough time, it occurred to me that taking his name might mean something to him and might be a gesture of love and gratitude. And so Monica Perez was born. I think he liked it 🙂 Hillary, on the other hand, took her husband’s name when it was politically expedient to do so. It kind of bummed me out on a couple of levels. For all her feminist militancy, it seemed to show that she was willing to use her status as consort to the President to improve her political status among the philistines who think a woman “belongs” to her husband. Furthermore, when she became senator in New York (my home town), I felt it was, in effect, her sleeping her way to the top: There is simply no way she would have gotten that gig if it weren’t for her husband’s position. So I didn’t like it, but I did get over it. I still dislike both her stated politics and her political hypocrisy, but I got over her name. I am now wondering, however, if she ever did! This little email dust-up makes me think that 20 years later, she still thinks of herself as Hillary Diane Rodham, symbolizing to me that she continues to play to what she views as our sensibilities even though she has contempt for them. Maybe I’m reading too much into it – what do you think?
hdr22@clintonemail.com – How A Romanian Hacker Exposed Hillary Clinton’s Secret Email Life

What Would Make YOU Leave AMERICA? Podcast of July 12, 2014 Show

Hour 1

Hour 2

Hour 3

A few of the references from the show:

Complexity & Chaos, Empires on the Edge of Chaos, by Niall Ferguson

Neo-conservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, a review of Irving Kristol’s book.

Bewitched or Mad Men?

I am obsessed with Bewitched. It was my favorite show as a kid because of the magic but it’s my favorite show now because of the nostalgia – not nostalgia for my childhood memories, but for an era I have no memory of…the Sixties that existed in the pregnant pause before the cultural revolution–that long tail of the post-war Baby Boom that would fuel the counter-culture that changed it all.

But the show is also amusing on its face and even my modern kids enjoy it. I don’t let them watch TV or use electronics on school nights mostly because they fight too much over who gets what for how long. A month or so ago, however, I made an exception and bought the first season of Bewitched. Now we watch one episode per night as a family. We all love it. But when we first started watching it, I grieved for American innocence lost–a culture of etiquette and gentility that perhaps skewed corny but was fundamentally good. Then the outdated terms of the husband-wife relationship broke through to my consciousness and it occurred to me that really this might just be a white-washed version of the ugly culture depicted in Mad Men. Darrin Stevens and Larry Tate were the original mad men and the cigarettes and martinis and gender roles ring true in both versions. I was a little disturbed by this possibility, but also a little relieved because I didn’t have to have Good Ol’ Days syndrome – maybe those days weren’t so good after all.

To check my instincts on this, I took advantage of an opportunity to get an unbiased impression of that era as I was driving in the car with my 8-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. My 9-year-old had announced at dinner the night before that she “accidentally” stumbled across the word “sexist” in the dictionary while looking up some “other word.” It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of “other words” she might have been looking for on that page, but I let that pass. I did, however, use that information later in the car to ask, “Hey, since you know what the word ‘sexist’ means, let me ask your opinion on something. Do you think the show Bewitched is sexist?” I was so amazed by their answers, I decided to share them….

Read moreBewitched or Mad Men?

There Is Something Wrong

There is something wrong and we all know it.

What do I think it is? I think it is that power is concentrated in the hands of those with different goals from the people from whom that power derives. I call the top of the pyramid “the power elite” and the source of the power “the sovereign citizen,” but whatever you call it, you have probably noticed the disconnect between our agents, the government we pay for and which acts in our name, and our wishes – better reflected in campaign promises than legislation.

But what can we do? I always answer this question in the same way: Start by not talking yourself out of the truth.

During the last presidential primary season, I advocated for Ron Paul. I didn’t stump for him – I’m an anarcho-capitalist and have no hope for coercive monopoly government no matter who holds the top title – but I do respect Ron Paul and supported him. In response to my suggestion that people actually vote for him, I got two arguments:

Read moreThere Is Something Wrong

The Village Blacksmith

the-village-blacksmith-grangerMy eight-year-old son recited this as part of a Thanksgiving pageant at school and it brought tears to my eyes. Thought you might enjoy it too…

The Village Blacksmith
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling,–rejoicing,–sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

Thankfulness Is in the Eye of the Beholder

If you’ve ever listened to my show or perused my website you probably know my story, but I’ll sum it up just in case. I’m the youngest of nine in a blue collar family. We always had what we needed but not much of what we wanted. My parents loved us, worked hard, blah blah blah, but I wanted stuff and I dedicated my whole existence to getting out of my parents’ house and having all the things I needed and wanted: a dry towel after a shower, a whole half a bed, name-brand ice cream–ya know, the finer things in life. In pursuit of theses dreams, I worked like a dog waitressing six nights a week while going to community college, transferring to Harvard on a full scholarship and ultimately getting a JD-MBA from Stanford. In the course of these pursuits, I accumulated mass quantities of debt and found the man of my dreams (or at least the raw material out of which that man could be crafted). I became an investment banker to pay the debts off–and to start racking up the towels and ice cream–and in thinking I could have it all, I moved to Dallas from Money-Making Manhattan to accommodate my husband’s career, maintain my own and even start a family.

Unfortunately, shortly after the wedding and the move to Dallas,

Read moreThankfulness Is in the Eye of the Beholder