Thursday, July 31, 2008

Save Shouka

There we were- the four of us at Marine World. We’d gone on the Thomas the Train kiddie rides, and our next stop was to see the show starring Shouka the whale.

My husband got lunch, and we sat there while they entertained us with environmental trivia and advertisements. The male announcer was handsome in his polo shirt. The female trainers were cute and energetic in their wet suits. The music pounded.

And then Shouka came out. She is 13 years old and 16 feet long. She weighs in at a slim 4,000 pounds. She was wearing what’s “in” right now- black and white.

She did one swim around the stadium, and then went back to her private area in the back. Finally she emerged again and did what they wanted her to- waving to the crowd with her fin, splashing an unsuspecting visitor with her tale, and jumping high to reach the suspended balls.

All of a sudden I found myself crying. It totally took me by surprise. I hadn’t gone in there thinking, “Oh these poor animals…” I had been looking forward to seeing a beautiful whale. But seeing her do these forced human actions and realizing how small the aquarium is versus the ocean, I just felt so sad. I imagined being confined to a small area for my whole life. The feeling was suffocating.

The sadness seemed to have a life of its own. I wasn’t thinking about the whale, I was feeling. I held my two year old close to me as I donned my sunglasses. I wanted to run away, but I didn’t. Everyone else seemed to be happy and clapping to the nauseating music.

My husband later asked why I’d been sad. I told him I felt bad for the whale being cooped up and having to do these stupid tricks. “You aren’t going vegan are you?” he asked.

It was a fair question, but no, I’m not going vegan.

I want to believe that these animals are ombudsmen, teaching children and adults to care for the earth and its inhabitants and therefore their captivity is worth it. Or that if they are not born in wild they don’t know what they’re missing.

But I don’t buy it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Injuries, Tears and Butterflies

Monday afternoon my boys were begging to go outside. They didn’t want to go in the backyard where they can play independently, but in the front yard to ride their bikes.

I needed to unload the grocery bags first, and then empty the dishwasher. That doesn’t sound difficult, but with cleaning up accidental spills and refereeing the sharing of toys, it looked like it might take us three days before we’d get to see the sun.

Finally, I told them we would visit the bathroom and then go outside. When Henrik, my two-year-old, was standing by the bathtub, all of a sudden he fell straight down, hit his chin on the bathtub, ricocheted back to hit his head on the toilet, and then lay screaming on the floor. Lucas, my four-year-old, ran to his room to hide since he hates the sound of his brother crying.

I picked Henrik up and saw he’d split his chin. It was so sad to see that I started crying along with him. He calmed down and looked at me confused. "What’s that?" He asked, touching a tear rolling down my cheek. “Mommy’s crying,” I answered.

Lucas was listening from his room and yelled out worriedly, “Mama, are you crying too?” “Yes,” I called back, “but it’s OK. I’m just sad that your brother hurt himself.” Henrik then pointed at his tears. “Rerick cry too!” he said, making the connection.

Then we were all outside, the boys riding their bikes like nothing happened.

I called my mom for advice on making butterfly bandages to close the cut on his chin. With five kids, she has lots of experience.

Two days later, his chin has already healed. It’s amazing how quickly young bodies bounce back.

And I survived my first butterfly bandage application.

I hope we have many butterflies, but very few bandages, in our future.

(Photo by Mats.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guru Costner

My good friend Kevin Costner came for breakfast Sunday morning. OK, not in real life, but via Parade in the SF Chronicle. I was having one of those days where I think the world is mad at me, and I wonder if I should even continue with writing since if everyone is mad at me, they won’t want to read me, etc.

Do I really want to put myself out there?

What if people don't like me (yes, to be read like a whiney 4th grader) or what if I fail? Blah, blah, blah.

Annoying, really, but these thoughts had taken residence in my brain.

While I tried to Zen these thoughts away, something in large print caught my eye on the kitchen table. It was a quote from Kevin Costner, "Don't Let Fear Hold You Back."

OK, sign noted, so I read the article. Truth be told, I'm not a big follower of movie stars, I’d take a run-in with Allende or Lamott any day.

But Costner was my guru for the day as he said, “We’re afraid of a lot of things in life. It’s part of the human condition. What do we fear? Love? Failure? Telling the truth about ourselves? I think we don’t show people all we truly are because we’re afraid that if they actually know everything about us, they won’t love us. I’m as guilty of that as anyone.”

His words comforted me.

We’re all in this together (not to be sung like High School Musical.)

Ugh, now that song's in my head. At least it’s not “Kumbaya.”