meandering toward a thought

Friday night the firefighter and I saw U2. My favorite band of all time perform my favorite album of all time. I was five when The Joshua Tree album came out and I know what it sounds like as a record, as a cassette tape, on CD, and on Spotify. I know every word, and feel every bit of passion it was meant to stir. As a constantly forward moving band, this is the first time they have ever revisited any tour and it was this one and OH MY GOSH I WAS THERE!!
Let me back up.
We bought tickets and booked our hotel room in January thanks to my awesome friend, Mindy Lentz posting about the upcoming concert on Facebook. We told the kiddos we were going to be going out of town and that their Aunt and Uncle would be staying with them. This was a mistake. You see, kids immune systems are directly related to the anticipation and excitement lobes of their brains (this is actual science based on my years of study and immersion in child culture.) And I forgot to take into account that it had been three whole weeks since our last strep outbreak. Rookie mistake.
We began the countdown till Friday morning, last day of school, the day Aunt Laura and Uncle Kyle would be in charge, the day my number one item on my bucket list would actually happen.
The countdown may have been the greatest mistake of all.
At 1:00 am Thursday morning a kid entered our room making no sense whatsoever. I felt this child’s body and realized it was raging with fever.
I hollered to the firefighter, “STREP!!” to which he replied, “Let’s wait till the morning.”
That kiddo was in and out of our room all night.
I took her to the doctor first thing, and she tested positive for strep. Please understand our family passes strep around like a bottle of whisky at a bonfire. Occasionally our doctor has gone ahead and called in antibiotics for all the kiddos, but because this was our NINTH round of it in 8 months he needed to test and diagnose each kid so we can be referred to an ENT to find out which little monster, I mean angel, is the carrier so we can yank, I mean remove, that kid’s tonsils.
This would all be well and good normally, but I had eight billion things left on my list to do before we left town, and I couldn’t ask my sister and her husband to wait for the other kids to get sick and take them to the dr. Plus, Park kids don’t all deal with Strep by complaining of throat pain. Nope, they generally like to barf red on the carpet. Most of our house doesn’t even have carpet so they have to seek it out. And if they don’t think they will make it to carpet in time then they will just barf in their bed and on themselves. There has never been more laundry done at a hotel on a weekend than at the Park house during a stomach bug.
So, I went to the boy’s school and picked them up and as I loaded and buckled everyone up I prayed this prayer:
Psalm 139/A Mother’s Prayer
by King David/Amber Park
“Oh Lord you have searched me and you know me,
you know when I sit and when I lie down,
you perceive my thoughts from afar,
you know my comings and goings,
you are familiar with all my ways,
Oh, and also please let my babies feel better.
And the Lord heard my selfish prayer and inclined his ear and behold, each Park kid tested positive. Thus sayeth the strep tests.
So before my selfless sister and her husband came to our house the kiddos had a good three doses in their bodies and I burned all the toothbrushes and set the hand towels on fire and sprayed Vodka everywhere.
I was starting to feel Strepy myself on Thursday and for some weird reason had a refill for antibiotics in my life and started taking them, too.
Smooth sailing from here on out, right?
Have you ever read my blog?
We left my vehicle just in case they needed to go anywhere with our kiddos and instead took my husband’s truck. His truck’s air conditioner has always been a fickle minx and yet he still delights in his truck. And no, this is not an allegory nor a metaphor for his wife.
He took it to the shop earlier this week to see if they could fix it (again), but there really is no clear problem. So they replaced and tightened some things and essentially said, “we’ll see how it goes.”
So we began our six hour drive, in record high temperatures, me with a fever, windows rolled up while the A/C blew hot air that was occasionally just warm. The funny thing is the firefighter thought I was really making a big deal out of it all. He was thinking, “I know it’s not cold, but it IS cooler!” We didn’t realize until two hours into our drive BACK HOME that his vents were blowing cool air and mine truly were blowing hot. The whole time I had been thinking, “When did I become such a baby? I would have died on the Oregon Trail! He’s the toughest person I have ever known!!”
But, we made it to the hotel, and after I laid on top of the air conditioner in our room for an hour we got ready and got in the shuttle and as it pulled away I realized I didn’t have the tickets!! AHHHHHH!! They let us get off the shuttle and waited for us to return, sheepish grin and tickets in hand. When we got to the Jones Stadium, we were wanded with metal detectors, passed a bomb sniffing dog, a man in full body armor and combat gear. We got there early enough to buy a t-shirt and a program and then walked around and took in the immense “Toto-we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore” enormity of it all.
When U2 took the stage, me and 75,000 of my closest friends sang at the top of our lungs and wept as we were stirred by lyrics still relevant today. As I read through the program on our way home I was struck by how truly inspirational Bono and his approach to soaking up culture and grasping humanity (and inhumanity), and how he then goes to The Edge with his lyrics and shares what inspired the song and how he wants the listener to feel and The Edge works his magic and I swear I’ve heard bombs and terror and confusion and war and love from their music. He’s a poet who uses his art to provoke thought and who practices his belief that we can be better. And in his real life he works to make a difference. It’ll be what stands them apart from so many, the challenge and then the action.
And as we were driving home I meandered toward a thought.
Ladies, we have all seen the sign in restaurant bathrooms that tell us that pregnant women should not drink alcohol because of the affects it can have on the unborn child. I looked over at the firefighter and asked him if he has ever seen one of those signs in the men’s restroom. He had no idea what I was talking about. I remember being in a psychology class 15 years ago and seeing the affects alcohol had comparing a healthy baby’s brain to that of an infant with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Seeing the healthy brain with all of it’s potential in the form of so many beautiful wrinkles and the FAS brain had so few, it gave me such a visceral reaction and I can feel it still today.
The month of May is National Foster Care Month in the United States and as we wrap up this month Im thinking of my amazing friends who have loved and raised babies who have suffered terrible things, and many of these children suffered them before they ever left their mother’s womb. When I think of a womb I think of it as warmth, comfort, safety. It’s after I give birth that I fear the germs, the cruelty, the world for my children. But too many children do not enter the world in this way.
Too many babies enter the world addicted to drugs, brains diminished from alcohol. It is poisoning a generation and too many of my friends can attest to what that looks like.
An FAS baby, then child, then adult has suffered a cruelty that cannot be undone. These children look like everyone else, are not outwardly showing a defect, but in the lack of folds in their brains is what separates them from their peers. It’s what causes them to be left out, or bullied, to be unable to grasp simple concepts, to have  extreme impulsivity, to struggle with rage, to lack empathy, and to not have the capacity to ensure that the next generation doesn’t suffer the same fate.
As I considered my husband having never had one of those signs in front of his face in a bathroom stall I felt so frustrated. The last line of the sign specifically says, “If you think you might be pregnant, think before you drink.” I wonder what impact those signs tailored to a woman’s partner could make if they were posted in restaurant and bar bathroom stalls for potential fathers to consider, too. Maybe the difference wouldn’t be huge, but even a small change can make a big difference. If even only one child was saved from those effects, what unbridled potential in that new person?!? He or she could change the world! And consider the affect a sign reminding a man of the potential for creating a new life could have? To be reminded of the enormity of decisions, maybe it could soften the hearts of some who for whatever reason forgot to care of the impact their actions in bed can have. Maybe it will give them pause as they consider their potential partner and what the upcoming choices can mean.
So I’m sharing a passion. I’d love to get feedback on how to go about making this idea a reality.



One thought on “meandering toward a thought

  1. Wow! As I’m faced with another foster care decision in front of me, I’m blessed by your words. I’m not sure how signs can be put up but it’s a great idea. I hope others can come along side of you to do this good work. You’re such a blessing!

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