Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Welcome to the Dark Side

I took the Brisco to the dog park last week. It was very quiet there which was exactly what I needed after a couple of wild days. We played for a bit until he ditched me for some dogs and I wandered over to the benches. There was just one woman sitting there. I at one bench over and enjoyed the few minutes of peace.

We struck up a conversation after her dog came over to me. It was pleasant. I noticed she was using oxygen and had a very small tank  - like the size of a thermos around her neck. I asked how long that lasted and she said 8 hours! Wow! I told her Maggie's tank was 5x the size and only lasted 6.  Though she wasn't there, the conversation turned to Maggie and her medical needs.

It was very cordial and not prying or anything. She was generally interested. I doled out only what information I wanted to and didn't feel put upon to over share. She asked if I had any other children. I said, yes, I have two college age sons.

This is where the conversation took a strange turn. This sweet lady with the oxygen tank said, "It must have been very difficult for them because you probably neglected them."

(insert cartoon head shaking here) I'm sorry, what did you say?

Well you obviously were busy with your daughter and could not give your sons the attention they needed.

I paused for a moment, shocked. How did we get here? It was as though a dark cloud covered the sun.

I paused again. I thought of my boys who had a great childhood, filled with tons of family and friends. I thought of vacations together and their friends who joined us. I thought of walks in the park and dozens of visits to "the rolling place" where they could roll down the grass non-stop. I thought of Eddie on his bike as a little kid and Tim practicing baseball every day. I thought of my  boys who went to private schools, and who brought friends over here constantly. Boys who are kind and polite. Boys who are well liked and respected by their peers and mine. Boys who are both working and having fun.  I thought of the two of them now living together 200 miles from home as they attend college.

 I thought of their very well developed senses of humor and how they might answer her. I felt a smile coming on, but I kept it just to myself.

I paused once more and gave her a long look. Then I simply said, "They did all right."


  1. What restraint you have -- when things like that happen to me, I generally restrain myself but I do feel sick inside. While I know there's not a whit of truth to those comments, they also tap into such deep fears. I really value how you describe your boys, their interaction with Maggie, how their lives are going -- since mine are so much younger, it helps me to hear those things. To see what can happen -- the joyful possibilities.

  2. There are those nosy busy-bodies everywhere. They compliment you on your beautiful baby or toddler then find some way to find fault with you (eg "I can't imagine bringing such a beautiful baby out among all these germy people.") What else can it be but envy?? You are blessed so many times over, and they can't resist trying to get at you for that.

  3. I think the thing most people don't realize is that your reality is way different. And not to minimize how much time you have to spend with Maggie, but all parents of more than one child has that dilemma and you just make it work. You do what you have to for your youngest and just pray that your oldest don't end up in therapy! I stuggle with mine and neither of them have special needs. To you, taking care of Maggie is just a daily routine and you adapt. It doesn't sound like your boys missed out on anything at all and if anything they are so lucky to have Maggie in their lives an dI know they are compassionate and caring young men because of it.

  4. Wow - you have run into some real characters at these parks of ours in SF! I almost feel like I over-compensate by giving attention to my other two since I am so aware of how much attention Rosalie gets. I love Heidi's take on it - that they are all perfect in their own rights. They are all blessed. Thanks for sharing another one of your adventures :)


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