Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On being a better example

I wrote several things about the Tuscon shootings, first angry, then confused, then mostly just sad. Most never saw any eyes but my own, much less appeared on this blog. After everything, one bit stood out, however: on Sunday, as my son prepared to practice the clarinet (passed down from my father), I just watched him. I'd done a lot of extra kid watching since the shooting, not that it should take a tragedy like that to make me realize how damn lucky I am. But then something occurred to me, and I wrote:

So I don't know. I don't have anything new to offer about this tragedy, except maybe from the perspective of a perpetually analytical parent, and here's why: I'm a million times better as a person since having my kid, and not for the reasons you might think. It's not because I realized, holy cow, I have a human being to care for, and got my life together (though, to some extent, I did). It's not because I matured (I didn't), got all insta-lovey (I didn't), or hooked up with a network of other parents (I tried, and believe me, I can't). It's because, for the first time, I realized something that was true all along: There is someone who is paying attention to what I say and do.

Not all the time. But having my son just THERE, all the time, made me realize that, you know? This person sees me, really watches me. He has real expectations of me.

What you say, how you say it, and what you do have consequences, good and bad, far beyond what you might imagine.

Obama, of course, said it better, but I feel like I was on the same wavelength:

They are so deserving of our good example.

I want America to be as good as she imagined it.

Yes. Exactly.

I've justified my blog's title said all along that Arizona's true story is in its people. We lost some damn good ones. Let's all be better people, for them and for us, OK?

With apologies to all my out-of-state friends, Arizona is the most amazing state there is. Our sunsets are so unbelievable that other countries used to think photos of them were doctored propaganda images. You can't go out a door without seeing at least a few mountains, and we have this little hole in the ground you might have heard of. You can look down the Grand Canyon and look back in time, through billions of years in our planet's history. Our animals ... well, you know how I feel about our animals. We pretty much own the saguaro. We have a great art scene, seriously amazing food, and, well, I could go on for a while. And dude. I wore shorts today.

And the people, seriously. Arizona's got real, honest-to-goodness cowboys. (My mom's old boss used to say his top three priorities in life were 1) his horse; 2) his dog; and 3) his wife; in that order.) But it's the regular folks, mostly. I hear stories every day of people who help, always and extremely -- and half the time, I hear it in the course of reporting some other, unrelated thing, like it's a given and unimportant: Well, yeah; I was still in some pain from being shot and carjacked yesterday. I just figured, no one ELSE is going to help my friend move before he's kicked out. (Real example.) If you're ever visiting Arizona and decide to take a hike and run into an Arizonan, you can count on a brief lecture on heat and the importance of hydration, but you can also count on that person sharing his or her last quart of water.

Arizona rocks, everyone. Let's show it. Our kids deserve our good examples. These victims sure deserve it. We all deserve it. It won't make it better; it won't make it worth it, not by a very long shot. But it's a chance to honor them, and a chance to do what we should have been doing all along.

Let's make it count.


FireMom said... Best Blogger Tips

I added your post to the BlogHer roundup of other posts about the tragedy. I thought yours was one that deserved some reading.

Thank you for taking the time to write it -- and write it and write it and write it again.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, and thanks for sharing it as well. It's a great roundup -- everyone else, you should totally read those other links.

Jessica said... Best Blogger Tips

Off topic, but just wanted to point out that you ARE hooked up with a network of other parents; in fact I think you lead it! You're a wonderful mom, and as usual, this post just solidifies it. He's as lucky to have you as you are to have him!

Tim Keen said... Best Blogger Tips

It shouldn't take a something like the senseless act of an insane man to force a nation together, but sometimes it does. What invariably happens at times like these is that the rest of us get a glimpse of what we really are, a nation of small communities and cities that pull together in a horrific time.

Thanks for showing the rest of us what a great place Arizona is.
We are, of course, very sorry.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Jessica: Thank you, very much. XOXO

Tim: Well put, and thank you.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

This aspect, what can I do, how can I best honor the fallen and how can I best honor my child are constant thoughts right now. Thanks for talking to this.

Your Tucson buddy

katiekono said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh my, I've found another Arizonan to read and love! Thanks for a beautifully written entry on meaning that has resulted from tragedy.

I am not as careful as you, I just publish everything i write and regret it later! Ah well, I'll learn!

Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

I am probably not going to be popular in Arizona, but the recent killing of a nine-year-old girl and her dad and the attempted murder of her mom by that border protection group is the kind of stuff I think of when I think of Arizona. I know: there's also you, the black widows, the nature, the sunset. But we hear about too many killers and immigrant haters and racists, about Arizona being the last place to adopt MLK day, that around the other parts of the country, we don't think of it with fondness. In fact, just today, someone said the snow was ruining her life; she was moving to Arizona. Someone else said, yeah, extreme heat and white supremacists are way better than snow. NOT.

I guess you're going to have to work hard to get that out of our minds.

But I love you.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

You know I love you too. I totally know where you're coming from.

There isn't much to reccommend us lately, at least in the news. It's just that I see all that coverage and think, that's not the Arizona I know. I know, I'm supposed to say that. But it's absolutely true.

I don't have much useful to say about politics, honestly. When I only halfheartedly named this blog years ago, I was just thinking of the Arizona I wanted to share: the black widows and sunsets and people doing amazing things and just living their lives. That's still what I think is most representative, but unfortunately it's not what's most pressing lately in Arizona-related news.

I can tend to be a little Pollyannaish, I think. I've heard all about how dangerous Baltimore is supposed to be, random acts of violence, it rated as "most armed" on a list or two a few years back. But when I've gone I've loved the place. (I know you don't have the politically motivated racism, or some of our issues, but it was just as foreign to me, in a way.) I don't ignore the bad stuff. I just tend to look at the good even in the face of bad stuff. Especially then.

I'm ashamed of certain people in my state, both the random psychos and the people who are supposed to be in power doing good but are working contrary to education, tolerance, safety, and everything they're supposed to protect. I'm pretty enraged, when I stop to think about it. And I don't ever intend to shut up about it. But they already know we're mad. I guess I think the only way to make it better is to bring in more good. Does that make sense?

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips


Gah. I'm tired.

Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

Yeah, it's true. We call it Bodymore, Murderland. I hate that about it.