January 31, 2018

Lost Boys

January 31, 2018
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It was a typical day.  I had typical errands to run.  The weather was typical for Oklahoma on that day.  Chilly and windy.  I was doing my usual "up and down the isles" at War-Mart when I noticed them.  Two teenage boys.  They were out of place, nothing typical about them.  They didn't belong there.  No shoes, no socks.  No jacket.  Their faces were dirty and their clothes were tattered.  With their chips and soda in hand, they paid with loose change and headed for the exit.  Something wasn't right.  


I followed them out into the parking lot.  They took off down the sidewalk.  I got in my car and followed.  I noticed another lady doing the same thing.  She too knew something wasn't right.  We both drove ahead of the boys, parked our cars and cautiously walked towards to the boys.  Where were they going?  Where were their shoes?  Who did they belong to?

We asked them what they were up to.  Did they need help?  With big smiles on their faces they told us a they were on a mission.  A survival mission.  They had been challenged by their "leader" to survive for 72 hours.  If they completed the mission, they would be "accepted".  One of the boys had a box of filthy tennis balls.  They were selling the tennis balls to strangers, offering them as dog toys.  With the money they made they would buy food.  They slept in a field and bathed in a pond.  They were shivering, giggling.  They were proud of their mission.  They had made it three nights in the cold, selling tennis balls and surviving.  Their mission was near complete.  

image: http://culture.pl/en/video/tomorrow-will-be-better-in-japan
Something wasn't right.  Concerned, I continued to ask them questions.  Desperate to keep their attention we offered them food from Sonic.  Oh, how they immediately accepted and gave a tall order.  The lady I was with (I'll call her Julie) distracted them while I called 911.  I called my husband.  I called a juvenile officer.  The police were on their way.  The boys figured it out and called me a snitch.  I assured them they weren't in trouble.  I assured them we would keep our promise and get them Sonic.  I assured them we wanted to help and get them to safety.   They tried to walk away but reminding them that hot food was coming kept them hanging around.  

Two police cars pulled up and the boys tried to run.  The police peacefully kept them from getting too far and began to talk to the boys.  Julie went to get them the food we promised.  The officers questioned them separately.  I stood there, shivering.  Where were their parents?  Why weren't they in school?  Why were they barefoot?  And what the heck was this survival mission?  What leader?  

The police officers informed me that the boys were runaways from a local group "home" for the delinquent and dependent.  They were reported missing a few days ago.  The police told me that it was common for boys placed in group homes to run.  The facility didn't have security and any boy could leave at anytime.  They were barefoot because they didn't own shoes.  They weren't given shoes to discourage running away.  BUT who was looking for them?  Anyone?  No.  No one was looking for them.  They were reported missing but that was it.  Past that they were two less boys the system had to worry about.  

image: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/domestic_abuse
Scared, the boys continued to confess where they came from and pleaded with the officers not to take them back.  They made up the survival story to give them a sense of purpose and adventure.  Julie returned with the food.  Both boys were extremely grateful and ate quickly.  I asked to officers to please let us know when the boys were returned safely and asked what we could do to help them.  Nothing came of it.  I called the facility but because of privacy laws they couldn't tell me anything.  I talked to a local politician.  He made a few phone calls but shook his head and apologized.  I had no right to know anything.  No right to help.  No right to investigate.  In the name of privacy, the boys couldn't be checked on or even told they weren't forgotten.  

I thought about those two boys for months and think of them often now.  Did they run away again?  Are they safe?  Are they being mistreated?  Do they still try to escape and fantasize  about a survival mission?  Why is the community left in the dark?  Why, in my town, was this happening? The bubble I had been living in popped.  There are youth out there that are in danger, abandoned and forgotten. 

Those boys are lost. But they have names. No one is looking for them. But they need to be found.  No one cares for them.  But they have dreams.  They are people too.  Like many, they hurt.  But their pain is too much for our society to handle, for our government to appropriately fund. They are victims of a system that poorly houses the unwanted.  A system that implements laws to keep the community from knowing or helping.  A system that is failing children that have been failed by their parents.  The system is broken and it's breaking our future, our hope.  Those boys matter just as much as anyone else.  They didn't choose to be forgotten or mistreated.  But they are.  

I've had several people ask me what can be done.  That answer is one involving moving mountains.   The people I checked with didn't have answers.  Like I shouldn't be concerned with it, it isn't my business.  I wanted to promise the boys so much more than hot food but I couldn't.  I wanted to organize a mentorship program but was politely told that wasn't possible.  There is a problem and there doesn't seem to be a solution.  Not one that anyone is willing to involve themselves with. That has to change.  The hurting, the abandoned and forgotten are right here, in the shadows of our very own country, state, city and neighborhood.  The truth has a voice.  We must listen and act.  

November 7, 2017

The Disney Disclosure

November 7, 2017
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It all started on a self pity kind of day while scrolling through Instagram. Pictures of miserably happy families so perfectly posed in front of the beloved Cinderella Castle grabbed a hold of me and pierced me right in the center of my heart where mommy guilt resides. 2016 wasn't the easiest year in the family/mom department so it only made illogical sense to surprise the twins with a trip to Disney. Big Dog didn't hesitate when I asked him if it was a good idea so I trusted that he trusted that I trusted I was making a good decision.

This picture is just flat disturbing. I'm offended at how magical this appears.
The planning began by simply alerting a friend that is a Disney planner (bless you, Whitney). And while I'm certain she took pleasure in planning our magical trip, I can assure you she did not take pleasure in answering my over one thousand text messages. Everything she did was perfect. She went above and beyond to ensure we had a magical trip at the hap, hap, happiest place on earth. She had nothing to do with the fact the Big Dog decided to prove a point by leaving for the airport later than his usual yet unnecessary 3 hours prior to boarding for a domestic flight out of Oklahoma City for crying out loud.


And this one. I can't. I just really can't.
You see, Big Dog (AKA: Airport Man), had us leave the house just late enough to be just late enough to miss checking our bags and nearly miss our flight. I was fit to be tied when he gave me a look and said, "See?!?! This is why I leave so early. THIS is what happens when you leave for the airport at the time YOU think you should leave." That's right. Mr. Prove a Point proved his point to the point I was in tears by the time we reached the pilot who kindly greeted us through his teeth. I dare say that set the tone for the rest of the trip.


Henry is very serious when considering where to send me with a Delta Gift Card.
Fast forward to arriving at Disney World. Exhausted, we inhaled lunch, met with family and dominated Animal Kingdom. Thankfully, the nearly missing our flight incident was punishment enough for one day. Wait, except for the line we waited in to board our Magical Express bus ride to the hotel. I nearly came undone when a walkie-talkie barked out that there were 15,000 people ahead of us. Friends, I warn against riding the Magical Express Cattle Call Bus. Take a cab and save what sanity you have left for the parks. You will need it.


Since I couldn't figure out the Magical Memories scam, I mean add on, I'm super glad Big Dog captured this!
Day 2: Magic Kingdom. My daughter woke with a stomach bug bad enough for me to call house keeping. It was disgustingly great. But the call of the kingdom was loud and she willed herself well and off we went. Now, if there is ever a time you should wear orthopedic shoes and pop a Valium, this is the time. Holy crowds and electric scooters! I felt like I had been transported to the National Electric Scooter Convention. Man, I'd never seen so many rent-a-scooters in my life. It was so distracting I missed riding Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean. And the crowds! An hour and a half wait to experience a two minute ride that has you wondering what the creators were trippin' on. No thanks! I found myself completely creeped out by all the animatronics in It's a Small World. I swear those freaky little kids come to life at night and wreak havoc in that giant tunnel. I had nightmares that night. It wasn't pretty. Or magical.


A little time out for some mediation. I hurt too bad to stand on one foot.
Day 3: Hollywood Studios. Eh, it was okay. I mean, I peed my pants. And I cried. Listen, Tower of Terror should be illegal. There is no sign that says, "This ride is not for the weak bladders". Forget being pregnant or having a heart condition. What about completely wetting yourself? The whole up and then down and then back up to know you have to go back down back to knowing if you go down you have to go back up. I left my bladder and five years of my life on that ride from hell. So now not only did I wish I had orthopedic shoes but I wish I'd packed some Depends. Further into the day my feet started to hurt and sting. My legs were throbbing and my back was at war with the rest of my body. I was wishing so badly to be an electric scooter candidate. I wanted to crawl in a ball and cry out, "Mommy!". But there was a Pin Trading party to get to and I take Pin Trading very seriously. Just kidding, but I sure reacted as if I did. Long story short and forty-five minutes later fresh off a broken down Monorail we arrived at what was to be a Pin Trading party. Nope. No such thing. Let's just say thou shall not mess with me when the letters PMS are involved. And don't mess with me after I've had the rear-end of a 300 pound woman in my face on a broken down Monorail either. Not good, people. Not a good idea. Yeah, so anyways there wasn't a Pin Trading party. Even though it was on the activity schedule, Kevin! Can I just share that I'd been on the wagon for more that fifteen days before the Pin Trading fiasco? Yeah. Nonetheless, we managed to enjoy dinner (and a few drinks) that we were an hour late to.


Nothing to see here. Big Dog took this, then text it to me. Thanks for that. Preesh. Just the look of someone who could be committed to the nearest insane asylum. Or sentenced to It's a Small World for the rest of your life.
Day 4: Let's blow this place! Ha Ha. Not really. I mean, kind of. It's just that I was so tired and in pain and I peed on a ride. And let's face it, I had a blister on my pinky toe that I'd trade for a hemorrhoid any day of the week. If anything I reconfirmed my hatred for crowds, electric scooters, long lines, and retired people that drive busses and take nine hours to parallel park before opening the door. For the love, Disney! You killed me. I am currently walking dead.


When you tell your kids to go use up the remaining points on the meal plan at Goofy's Candy Shop but they get the one and only thing that's not included on the meal plan and rack up over $25 in hard core sugar.
Now, all that trash talk aside, we did make some pretty great memories and the twins got to have fun with no strings attached. They didn't notice the scooters, nor were they bothered to the point of criminal intent with the crowds. They laughed, got along and soaked up every drop of magic Disney oozes out. IF you ever do Disney use a Disney planner. It takes the sting out of the stick. Oh, and pack sunscreen even if it is December. And Dr. Scholls Gellin like a felon I'm like Magellan inserts, Depends, Valium, Pepto Bismol, and super cool orthopedic shoes (if you can find any).


You take your kid to Disney and they beg to go to the hotel arcade. I do love me some photo booth pics though.


I would have taken pictures of the animatronics but I heard if you do you will be cursed until your dying day.

PS: Since man buns are a thing now and seem to be socially acceptable, does that mean that men wearing Mickey Ears is acceptable too? Just askin'?

Baseball: It Happened to Me

When my son said he wanted to play baseball my stomach sunk and my knuckles turned white.  Seriously?  Sure, let's add one more extra curricular activity to our killer schedule.  No problem.  Sign us up!  Thank you Lord that you gave me a daughter that does not like dance.  You spared me there, no doubt.  So soccer, basketball, football and baseball.  Easy peasy.  

I've NEVER liked sports.  Ever.  The only sport I played was basketball.  Once.  The only point I made was via a granny shot.  Humiliating.  So when we added baseball to the roster I was less than thrilled.  The only thing I knew about baseball was it involved Cracker Jacks.  But as with everything else, I bucked up and committed to letting Henry play ONE season and prayed fiercely that he'd hate it.  

He loved it.  My first experience as a mom in the stands was so intimidating.  I was terrified.  My first memory is of this darling Baseball Mom shouting, "Get-cha a piece of it Jonny".  Get-cha a piece of it?  Huh?  Whoa.  This was real.  I quickly started Googling baseball lingo and slang.  I already stuck out like an old bat.  I didn't order a team shirt or hat and my street clothes screamed ametour.  Before I knew it, every parent in the stands started to shout at my son to SCOOT UP!  I was completely clueless and wanted to fit in so I shouted at him too.  And he immediately scooted up and hit it out of the park.  Not really but it felt like it.  All of this sudden, I loved baseball too.  

Two seasons later I was hooked.  I loved the kids and their families and I hadn't even had a single Cracker Jack.  But don't think for a second that I haven't participated in my fair share of macheese nachos.  "Ma-cheese".  Cheese from a machine.  Oh so terribly good.  If it's not a kid shaving years off my life, it's the food I eat.  Anyway,  I was becoming a baseball mom.  OMG!  But I still hadn't managed to courage to shout "Get-cha a piece of it".  I'm still ammeter level.  But I know a foul ball and how many times the pitcher can pitch.  I'm getting there.  

What I didn't know was how hot and bothered coaches can get.  I've seen parents come out their own shoes in rage at a poor skinny acne faced ref in soccer.  I've seen wives send their husbands to the car before being told to leave the field by an official.  Heck, I've seen parents get ejected from games.  But of all the balls out there, I've never seen a coach get his boxers in a wad at an 8 year old baseball game.  Quite a scene I tell you.  Poor umpire.  It can get ugly out there at second base.  Especially after everyone has left and it's just the coach and the ref. 

Baseball has happened to me.  I'll get fired up.  I'll jump up and down, clap and cheer.  I'll grab the knee of another mom when my son is up to bat.  I'll pick the shellac off my nails until they are destroyed beyond repair . But if you see me get hot and bothered drag me off to the concession stand for nachos with extra macheese and perhaps hand me a spiked drink.  Whaaaaat?  There's drinking in baseball? Trust me.  There is, Virginia.