Saints, fools, and angels

heart-32834_1280Today, I read about a man in Los Angeles who cares for terminally ill foster children. At a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric is everywhere, it is especially beautiful to read about how Mohamed Bzeek’s work was sparked by his wife’s passion and is sustained from his devout Muslim faith.

This week, a friend shared Laura Gilkey’s blog. Laura’s 9-year-old son Benji is dying of leukemia. Laura documents their journey toward Benji’s death: his bravery, his brother’s stalwart companionship, the millions of medical decisions required to give Benji the most comfort and the ability to be his Benji-est each day. I do not know her, but I read her updates daily, in tears and amazement at how this woman is doing the impossible.

But then, that’s the rub. It’s not impossible. It happens every day: children get sick. They die. Our hearts crack with admiration and grief and sympathy. We comment with disbelief:  “I could never do it.” “I couldn’t cope.” “He is truly one of a kind.”

We think this is work for saints or fools or angels. We think it is someone else’s work. Continue reading “Saints, fools, and angels”

The Long Con

Like most parents, we struggle with the right level of access to all things digital. At our house, all the computers and cell phones have passwords, but we have to change them fortnightly. Nine-year-old Nathaniel is both observant and stealthy, a deadly combination for household password security.

Mostly he just wants to watch hours and hours of other people playing Minecraft. I’m told this is no different than spending hours watching other people play football or golf, but it feels different to me. First of all, these videos involve both the annoying game soundtrack AND a guy screaming “Whooooaaaa! Siiiick!” over and over again until you want to cry.  Second, at least when watching sports, someone breaks a sweat at some point in the process. Not so with the screen within a screen.

Why we don’t just set reasonable limits–a half hour of access a day, or something like that? We have learned the hard way that Nathaniel is an all or nothing kid. For Christmas 2015, I made the shockingly stupid decision to buy him a Kindle Fire, lulled into complacency by reviews that talked about the fantastic parental controls. It “got lost” after about a month because I could not tolerate the constant bidding and begging about getting more game time.  A half hour is merely a toehold from which he will try to wrest an hour or two or three. A half hour is the launching pad for a million negotiations. Continue reading “The Long Con”