This is a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago. But in the process of writing it I borrowed a term from Cute W, then realized that he borrowed the term from somewhere else, which meant that I felt compelled to 1) buy an official “Decreasing World Suck” t-shirt for Cute W and 2) put off the entire post until after he received his gift.
This morning, both J and Cute W were banging away at computers.
J was checking her homework assignment. The teacher had assigned each person a partner to share the work on a cooperative project, and J was not psyched. During yesterday’s class, after a productive start together, J reported that her partner got tired of working and switched to chatting with friends. When J got home, she dutifully filled in her portion of the project and fretted about the other portion before heading out to diving practice. “Maybe she’ll get to her part later,” she said doubtfully. When J arrived home, she checked again. No progress. I assumed J was going in for one last check this morning before heading to school.
Meanwhile, Cute W broke it to me that he’d run into an error while trying to donate to Working Group on Girls via the website. This was a bummer, because if there’s a technical problem with the website, I’m the one to fix it. But I was confused. “Why are you donating to WGGS?” I asked. We’d already given this year. Plus, I know how much we’ve been spending to fly and shop for the holidays, so I couldn’t help blurting out the entirely unnecessary reminder, “It’s not tax-deductible anymore.”
“All the more reason to donate,” Cute W answered, fierce.
Of course he’s right. He usually is.
Turns out that Cute W’s donation was part of a coping strategy that he’d likely been contemplating because of all sorts of current events, but it took on new urgency as he started the day with that really depressing story on NPR about how life expectancy in the US has declined for two years in a row.
Rather than curling up into a fetal position, he headed to the computer to make online donations to worthy causes and then share those causes on Facebook, thanking friends for “helping to decrease world suck!”
He couldn’t share mine because of my technical difficulties, but meanwhile he’d passed along the following:
Want to support evidence-based public policy that actually addresses problems such as drug addiction? Support the Katal Center: https://katal.nationbuilder.com/donation. They are working to end mass criminalization, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs! Every little bit helps! Thanks for your tireless efforts Keith Brown! (Keith’s our friend from the UU)
Want to support efforts to reduce the country’s stillbirth rate and save babies! Heck yeah! Support the Count the Kicks: https://www.countthekicks.org/donate/. Every little bit helps! Thanks Kate Safris and the rest of the Safris clan! (They’re family friends from high school.)
Want to help provide critical support to our and end chronic homelessness in Washington D.C.? Support Miriam’s Kitchen: https://miriamskitchen.org/donate/. They feed, distribute toiletries and clothing, and give haircuts to those in need. They also provide case management services to improve their health, increase their income, and obtain housing. Every little bit helps! Thanks Scott Schenkelberg for all of your tireless efforts! (Scott is our friend/Cute W’s roommate from college)
Want to support a program that positively impacts girls’ lives by helping them increase their self-confidence, develop healthy relationships and feel good about themselves? Support Girls on the Run: https://www.gotrcr.org/. Hey every little bit helps! Thanks Marisa Franchini for your tireless efforts! (Marisa worked with Cute W, and J was a runner and M a junior coach for GOTR.)
Cute W is a good guy. One of his most frequently-used Dad Phrases (after “DFTBA” and “Do your best and forget the rest,” of course) is “You don’t have to be culpable to be responsible.” As in, perhaps you aren’t the person who left that mug on the coffee table, but you could still choose to bring it to the kitchen. Or, even if kicking your sister in the head was a complete accident, you should still ask her if she’s okay and bring her an ice pack. You know: basic stuff. But it speaks to something bigger, this general idea that even if you can’t control what’s happening around you, you can control how you react to it all.
As J was leaving the house, I asked her about that homework project. “Oh, she never did it, so I just did her part, too,” J said. “Are you going to tell the teacher?” I asked. She just sort of rolled her eyes, which I believe is code for, “Only if I am directly asked about partner participation.” And okay, it’s not fair, for sure. But would I rather have a kid who takes responsibility whether it’s fair or not? Hell, yeah.
Current events aren’t just discouraging; some days I feel like I’m bordering on despair. But waving goodbye to the family this morning, I felt a surge of gratitude. For my super-smart, feminist, always-making-the-world-around-him-better husband and my 13-year-old daughter who will suck it up and do what she feels she must, whether it’s a homework assignment or trying her darndest to be a vegetarian (have I mentioned this? She is mostly doing this, but it is sometimes a struggle). Even that older daughter is no slouch, befriending kids of all abilities and schooling the boys on equal rights enough that she’s been called a “feminazi” (I was super-proud of that one).
There’s a lot that’s really sucky right now, but I am grateful for and proud of my family. . . and their tireless efforts to decrease world suck.