Character Counts

The other day, I overheard my son reciting his old elementary school’s “Character Counts” pledge, the one he heard every morning (13 years ago) as his class repeated it together after the pledge of allegiance.

He was never able to say it in the moment along with his class, but those words (and the cadence and inflection) have stuck with him.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard him repeat this little pledge—although it’s not unusual for my 21-year-old to randomly voice short phrases, like his 2nd grade teacher’s daily greeting (and the students’ response) –  “Good morning 205! Good morning Mrs. King!” 

Perhaps his memory was triggered by one of these non-stop political ads, that argue over a candidate’s (and our nation’s) “character.”

…I promise to be TRUSTWORTHY, to show RESPECT, to be RESPONSIBLE, to be FAIR, to be CARING, to be a good CITIZEN and to always have the courage to do THE RIGHT THING because CHARACTER COUNTS…

I do wish more of our politicians, and their fervent supporters, would take this oath.

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On Turning 21 in 2020

I have mixed feelings about my son turning 21 in this year of pandemic and turmoil.

His 21st birthday, even in a pre-COVID19 world, would not be like most kids’ celebrations as they come into “legal” age. I could be disappointed about that for him.

But at this time, I’m just relieved we don’t have to argue with him about the safety of going out—like some of his young adult peers who are ignoring medical experts and partying as if they (and their loved ones) are invincible.

He stayed home for pizza and cake and games with his parents instead.

Unlike most others his age, he’s not working or going to school, and that’s a loss in some ways. 

But, at this time, I don’t have worry over the safety of his job, if his college campus will be open in the fall, if his dreams and ambitions will be delayed. 

From home, he shared a virtual roller coaster ride with his friends from his day program, and listened to everyone singing a joyous if slightly disjointed “Happy Birthday” song on their regular Friday Zoom meeting. 

Although my son is coming of age during an important time in our country’s history—a time when many of his same-age peers are getting involved in political activism for the first time, debating over issues of great importance to our nation and (hopefully) gearing up to vote on them—he’s unable to play an active part or voice his opinion. I’m sad about that, remembering the causes I began to care about when I was his age. Read More

Keep Calm and Prepare


I woke up with a scratchy throat, a headache, and a brain full of doomsday scenarios.

It’s probably allergies. Or maybe a minor cold. 

Heck, even if it is the coronavirus, odds are we will still get through it OK. Most people do, they say, right?

But still, I worry.

We’ve been staying home for several weeks now, except for brief trips to the grocery or post office (followed by extreme scrub downs of all hands and items before entering the house). I swear we’ve been so careful.

But still, I worry.

I’ve been doing a lot of prep for the “stay home” thing – making sure we have all the right food, activities, supplies. 

But I haven’t really planned for getting sick. Read More

Talk it Out

You know that feeling you get when you gather with friends or family and swap stories? When you tell and re-tell those crazy things that happened to you, with everyone else nodding and laughing along? 

I wish my son could tell his stories.

You know that feeling when someone you just met tells a story that resonates with you? When you get past the perfunctory “what do you do” questions and hear something familiar that you didn’t expect?

I wish people could get to know my son that way.

And, you know that feeling when a friend or a therapist helps you unpack some troubling experience? When you figure out how to verbalize how you felt in that moment, or what you think it means now?

I wish, for all the world, that my son could share his thoughts and worries.

This is not just a selfish mom-wish to hear his voice. Read More