Monday, March 18, 2013

A Day To Remember


We had expected a party at a local business but things hadn't seemed to come together. Exhausted from our dog costuming adventures (100 contestants! Hundreds of dollars worth of prizes! Fun for everyone!) we simply didn't have it in us to adjourn to another venue so we plopped onto the steps of the school across the street. Five adults, two kids, two dogs, a few beers, some snacks, and a bellyful of camaraderie.

We didn't do anything special or exciting. Alex punished Eddie for barking at him by taking him on a short bike ride that they both seemed to enjoy. The kids ate pizza. Eddie shoved Becky over so he could fall asleep on her coat. Kath served cheese and crackers and chips with pineapple salsa. Alex balanced his phone on Bobby's head and Alita filmed it. No doubt at some point MAB talked in funny voices. We made some jokes and talked about some stuff and sipped our beers. When someone coined the phrase "hang out" they had this in mind.


 It was glorious. For weeks I kept thinking back on it as such a nice time. Then recently I finally made my way up to these pictures in my processing and I fell in love with the memory all over again. When I look back on this neighborhood and this time in my life it's this kind of afternoon that will stick with me. Man, I hope it will, because it was perfect.

Today there's a lot of chatter on the internet about the verdict in the Steubenville rape case. There should be, it's important. Without delving very far into the controversy you'll find people villifying both sides.


The sentence that keeps getting the neon light chaser in my mind, though, is, "We've failed." We really have, as a society, completely failed if a room full of kids can feel comfortable saying things like, "I didn't realize it was rape." when they're watching an unconscious person stripped naked, digitally penetrated, photographed, and threatened. We created a place for them where it is plausible that they are fully ignorant of what rape is and that they are in no way compelled to step in and help the person being abused. That's such a colossal failure I'm having some trouble grasping the work ahead to make sure this never happens again.

I keep going back to these pictures and the memories of this day because it was a day when, in my little corner of the world at least, we succeeded. We modeled responsible drinking, respectful discourse, and good, clean fun. We instagrammed and tweeted photos that didn't endanger or embarrass anyone. We encouraged the kids to create their own art and trusted them to make good decisions about that. Granted those kids are younger than the ones we're talking about in Steubenville but a stitch in time saves nine and all.


 I feel confident that these particular kids will know what rape is when they see it. I feel confident that they will not grow up to rape. I hope that they will grow up to be brave and strong enough to intervene and get help when they see someone being harmed in any way. I hope against hope that they will never have a misstep of their own exploited to the extent that Jane Doe's was. There is, of course, only one way to find out. We'll have to keep spending days with them, keep listening, keep watching, keep talking, and hope that it's enough.

Is it ever enough?


The New York City Listen To Your Mother Show is happening on May 12, 2013 at 5pm at Symphony Space. Ticket and venue information can be found here. I hope to see you there! If you aren't close to this show please check this site to see if there is a LTYM show near you.

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