Internet Trolls

As you know, I’ve had my fair share of trolls over the last year. Matter fact, trolling seems to be a full-time job for some people. You can always tell who they are because they have screen names like TitsMcGee and @BigDickDaddy. Oh, and they are usually white males, not always, but the majority of mine have been. Some are bots from Russia. Had one of those on this here blog the other day. His name was DJT45. He followed me, then when I went to his page it was in all Russian. I quickly deleted him. In my experience it’s always the white guys with red hats that follow like CNN or WaPo and comment in the comment section crazy, straight-outta-left-field-bullshit conspiracy theories. Like why are you even following this “liberal bullshit” anyway? Answer: To troll.

You guys know I had to limit my Facebook time to a tight 15 a couple months back. Part of the problem is that I was reading the comment sections. Big mistake. I’d read say, a NYTimes article about global warming, and then I’d scroll the comment section. I’d come across no short of 100 trolls. People there just to argue and fight. They’d type in all caps: GLOBAL WARMING IS A LIBERAL HOX (they’d usually spell something wrong). Then about ten people would attempt to “school them” and it would just escalate. I usually wouldn’t comment, because I realize the game and I don’t want to play. But sometimes I literally couldn’t help myself. Like when it was a story about the polar bears dying in Antarctica and someone said, “This is all Hillary Clinton’s fault!” Dafuq?

I started to realize, on FB anyway, that some of my own family members are trolls. For sure. They will post a crazy, off-the-wall conspiracy theory meme then try to downplay it with an “LOL” or a smiley face emoticon and be all, “Haha.” But really, really, they want someone to comment. They are trying to start a fight. Engage. Flex their poorly-educated egos. My husband and I used to engage, now we just scroll past, or copy the meme and share it for our friends to laugh at it, or in some cases “unfriend” the ill-informed family member. Because you can do that, y’all! Not sure if you know that, but you can unfriend family members. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, or that you aren’t family anymore, it just means you’re hella tired of seeing their ridiculous, one-sided, fear-mongering shit on social media. It helps. Trust, it helps.

Last week I got sucked into the comment section of an Instagram post. I haven’t been limiting my Insta because I can normally control myself there. Plus, it’s a way for me to share pics and not have to log onto FB. Anywho, there I was scrolling the people I follow, a mix of friends, family, old classmates from both my schools, new friends, politicians, and celebrities, and I came across Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley reading a children’s book with her stepdaughter. I love Congresswoman Pressley, and the rest of “The Squad” of young Congresswomen who came to power in 2018. Like, I heart AOC. Anyway, Pressley isn’t my representative, she reps the 7th District in MA. Think: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and the like. But as I said, I follow her personal account because I think she’s a badass. I also follow other politicians who are not mine, like Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago, Rep. John Lewis (who is the rep for the district next door to me), as well as Lucy McBath (my representative) and other local, state, and federal representatives who I respect.

Okay, so I’m enjoying Rep. Pressley doing a reading of “The Story of Coretta Scott King” by Patricia Pingry, and I’m seeing comments pop up but I’m ignoring them. My son’s school has been doing a “Mystery Reader” since they started virtual learning and I’ve been watching all these wonderful teachers read these adorable kids’ books all week long and I’m rather enjoying it. Jackson is too. So I settle in to watch Pressley and her stepdaughter read, but I can’t stop myself from looking at the comments because one of the first ones is in all caps and it says something like this (I’m paraphrasing): WHY DON’T YOU STOP READING AND DO SOMETHING FOR YOUR DAMN CONSTITUENTS!” Ahh, that was fun. Pressley had responded. She was very nice, explained that she was working to help, but that taking a break to read with her stepdaughter is something she does, so she decided to share with everyone that day in hopes of spreading this good book, and cheering some people up.

Geez, aren’t people the worst sometimes?

Anyway, I scrolled down, knowing it wasn’t safe at this point. And remember this is her personal Insta, not her work one. I scroll, scroll. Then I come to TitsMcGee’s post. Did you think I made that name up? Nah, he’s real. He’s a white dude. Big shocka I know. He comments, simply: “Thanks for wearing a hat.” Seems like no big deal, right? Except that Rep. Pressley has struggled with Alopecia her whole life. She’s has no hair on the top of her head from it. And before about a year ago she wore wigs when she was outside her home. Then she decided to stop. She wanted to bring awareness to the condition, and show support for others who have it, so she stopped wearing wigs. And that made white men upset. For reference, here she is in her official photo and one from an article she did explaining her decision to show her head:

Beautiful, right? Also, a strong, Black woman who has zero fucks to give. So yeah, Tits McGee was none too happy with her.

I regret not taking a screen shot of the conversation that ensued, but I don’t usually do that with my internet trolls, unless they come for me afterward like Crazy McCrazyPants, remember him? So I will do my best to recall the comments for you now.

TitsMcGee: At least she wore a hat.

Some Rando: Do you feel good about coming here just to say that?

Tits McGee: I don’t feel good about anything. Ever. But I can sleep better at night now.

Me: @TitsMcGee you lose sleep over whether or not a woman reading a book with a child is wearing a hat? There seems to be a lot more to lose sleep over nowadays.

Tits McGee: She looks like a comic book villian. (Shrug emoticon)

Me: Ahh, I see @TitsMcGee! You are just scared of powerful women. You should have led with that. I hope you get some rest.

[End Scene]

So that’s it. That’s all that transpired. I went on about my day. It was a good day actually, I adopted a new puppy, whole new post coming about that later this week. And then when I logged into Instagram later that day I was expecting to find that Tits McGee said some more gross stuff. Instead, I found that Rep. Pressley had deleted the whole encounter and followed me on Instagram. No shit! I know you don’t believe me, so I did screenshot that!

In fact, I immediately sent the screenshot to my friend Beth, the only one who I thought would appreciate my excitement, and she did. So there’s that.

I guess for one my “sticking it to the trolls” paid off. But honestly, really, there are some things you can’t just scroll on past. I wish I could, but I’m just not that kind of person. So watch out, trolls, cause now I’m on a troll roll. (That includes you fam and friends!)

M.

Guns and TP

When I first heard that people were hoarding ammo, along with toilet paper, I couldn’t believe it. Like, why tho? Why are you hoarding ammo and buying new guns? Then a family member on FB shared a meme that said something about “Happy Hunting” in terms of shooting people who were possibly, most likely, going to break into their house when “all hell breaks loose” to steal the goods they hoarded for themselves. That’s when I was like, wow. Wow to a couple of things. Wow to the fact that you think it’s okay to say, “Happy Hunting” about human lives, and wow to the fact that you went out and bought enormous amounts of toilet paper or hand sani or bread or whatever it is you are afraid people will try to steal from you. Maybe if you would have left some items on the shelf for your community you wouldn’t be fearful of robbery. And doesn’t this all stem from fear? Yes. Yes is the answer.

Jesus, I bet the psychologists are having a field day with human behavior right now. I mean, I’m no doctor but it all makes sense to me. The idea that your community members will steal from you, the fear, the constant, constant fear, all stems from one place: an angry heart. This is basic psychology 101, y’all. But I’d like to add a lack of education to the mix. Most of the people I know who are hoarding guns and ammo and tp, do not have a college education. Most of them are acting on impulse. Three days in a row they went to buy more toilet paper at Kroger. When it wasn’t there they deduced that it would never be there again (I think because they don’t understand supply and demand, basic economics) and they freaked out and bought ammo instead. Because if the tp isn’t there, what if the ammo won’t be?! Le sigh.

These people obviously don’t even trust their own communities. And should we be living in communities that we don’t trust? Should we know our neighbors’ names? Should we be the ones giving the excess that we hoarded to them, before it even gets to the point where someone might have to consider stealing it? I mean these are big, important questions, y’all. Things we should be considering, instead we are buying toilet paper and ammo.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I wish college was an option for more people. I wish people didn’t say things like, “I didn’t go to college and look at me, I turned out fine.” Is fine all you want to be? Cause if it is, then yeah, you’re “fine.” I mean, you panic bought 127 rolls of tp and bottled water and ammo, but sure, let’s call you “fine.” College should be affordable (or free!) it shouldn’t be looked down on like it is in some sub-groups, it should be the first step out of high school, at least a two-year degree, just to get an idea of how the real world works, because Jesus y’all, a lot of these people just don’t know how the real world works. They claim “street smarts,” but they haven’t ventured past their own street. It’s sad, pathetic, and at time like these, when the majority of us understand human kindness, compassion, and respect, they are out there saying things like, “Happy Hunting” about other human beings over a $12 package of toilet paper that will be back on the shelves in droves next week because that’s how the actual world works.

This is a rant, sure. But I hope I have enlightened some of you to how other people act and react in scary times. An angry heart is incapable of sharing their hoarded face masks, it doesn’t matter how many puppy videos they share. An angry heart is incapable of understanding anything past the tip of their own nose. They don’t see how their impulse to buy all the TP forced a chain reaction. That it forced people to go without. People who work in the restaurant business, or retail. The actual people stocking the shelves full of tp. People who live paycheck to paycheck, and by the time they got their paychecks last week all the tp was gone. And the craziest part is most of these people, the ones stocking up on tp and ammo, are living paycheck to paycheck. The ones I know anyway. They just thought it would be better to blow all their money on tp and ammo right now, because God forbid they be embarrassed to ask a neighbor for tp, or God forbid they don’t have 1,000 boxes of ammo like “a real man.” Like, for real, y’all. There are angry, angry hearts out there amongst us. And they need some therapy. But you know, they can’t afford it/don’t think it’s real science. I mean, you don’t see no therapists on FoxNews do’ya?

And lastly, a note about those who are keeping this world moving along: the retail workers, the truck drivers, the restaurant servers working the To Go door. The delivery drivers. The people stocking shelves at Kroger overnight. I want to say thank you. And I want you all to know THEY ARE NOT FINE. They are working right now to keep your supplies with tp and ammo. They wish they could be home with their kids, away from all these people who are sick and are bringing the virus to them because they won’t stay the fuck home. But there they are. Because if they don’t work they don’t get paid. Because if they don’t work, we don’t get supplies we need. So the next time you’re all, “Well if we pay a McDonalds employee $15/ hr then my Coffee will be more expensive…” sit down, pull out those critical thinking skills we talked about and vote to help out other human beings.

And to the doctors, nurses, and Emergency service workers, thank you. This should open your eyes to our healthcare industry and how completely jacked up it is.

Stay safe out there, y’all. And in some parts of the county, be careful when you knock on your neighbor’s door asking for help. You’re liable to get shot.

M.

When in Doubt, Laugh It Out

I got an email from Delta yesterday, and I sucked in my breath because I have a flight scheduled for Friday morning, and I was like, “Shiiiit.” But it was cool. It was just telling me all the precautions they were taking in light of this here pandemic, and that they have a Command Station set up in Atlanta to combat any signs or symptoms of travelers. They didn’t tell me not to fly (that wouldn’t be a best business practice) but they did tell me that any and all change fees are waived right now, and that I can use my credits any other time if I do decide to cancel my flight. No harm, no foul. Thanks, Delta. But I’m flying out on Friday because my nephew is getting married on Saturday in Kansas City, and there’s just some things you don’t miss. But, I am a little nervous because Hartsfield-Jackson has had confirmed cases come through there, they are the busiest airport in all the land, and there are no instances of Covid-19 in KC, which means I may be bringing them gifts unbeknownst to them.

So, I’m anxious now. I wasn’t before, but now I am. I’m scared, and sad about all the deaths. I can’t imagine what China and Italy are going through right now, and I don’t want to know. I don’t want my fellow STUPID Americans (and our government) to muck this up and cause us to end up in bad shape, and worse yet, unable to help other countries who may desperately need our help. It’s bad enough that humans (and some dogs) are combatting this nasty virus, and dying from it, but why do we have to keep pretending like we don’t need to worry about it? We do. But… I deflect my emotions with humor. Which is what I’m fittin’ to do. And I get it, I know. You might find memes about a virus killing people repulsive. Then I’d just skip on down to the bottom where I fill you in on the important stuff. Cause these memes are all I have right now to keep me smiling. (Also, you’re probably not of my generation, and that is cool, it’s just that, well, we deal with things differently.)

Okay, we’ve had our fun, now let’s get real. Here is the most important site to keep updated in your browser:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC is still learning how Covid-19 spreads, but they know it is not airborne. Which means masks don’t help that much. If you just keep your distance (about six feet), don’t touch people, and wash your hands frequently you should be okay. It can spread through sneezing and coughing, but that doesn’t mean it just lives in the air. It means that an infected person, who may not know they are infected, can sneeze or cough and the droplets of their sneeze or cough can land near/on you and you can touch them, then touch your face, which is bad news bears.

The people actually showing the symptoms are the most contagious though. So think the sickest, the people in quarantine or those with really high fevers who just don’t look great, those are the people to stay away from. The rest of the people who have mild symptoms or are not exhibiting symptoms yet are least likely to infect others. Which is good, because if you’re still well enough to say, travel, then you are probably on the lower end of the contagion.

Community spreads are the most common as of now. That’s why whole provinces of China had it spread so easily. So it’s actually unlikely that I would bring the disease to KC, but you know, there’s a chance. It’s more likely that a student at a school gets sick, then the school has an outbreak. Which is why as I write this, the whole Fulton Country school district is out of school for the day. Fulton County is one of the Atlanta counties, and a teacher tested positive for Covid-19 this week, so everyone was out one day to clean the schools. It’s a process, y’all. And thankfully our backwoods-ass, horrible, pro-life governor is taking it seriously. You know, doing something good for once. Though to be fair, it’s the local officials who are handling things smoothly round here. And the big businesses like Delta. And thank the Baby Jesus for the CDC. Did I mention that? Cause if you’re still getting your news from our president, then, umm, I have no words for you. Stop. Just stop.

Okay, hope this helped in some way. It helped me laugh, cry, freak out, then laugh again. Stay safe out there, y’all.

M.

Here’s a great, short video on Coronavirus, how it spread, and how we can help stop it.

Novel Covid-19

Listen, I’m not usually one to worry about pandemics. I know this goes against all I have ever said about myself. I am a worrier. I have hella anxiety, particularly when it comes to my kid, but generally speaking, I don’t give much thought to like, the flu. We get flu shots every year, and Jesus I’m not here to debate whether or not you should. I mean, you should, but if you honestly believe that you didn’t get the flu because you didn’t get the shot, I can’t help you with that. Your problematic way of thinking is beyond my capacity. But, I am flying next Friday. In fact, the three of us are hauling ass (via the MARTA) in the early morn, and flying out of the busiest airport in the world, so I’ve been a little worried about this here Covid-19.

Like, what do I need to do? Face masks? Rubber gloves? Those Lisa Frank-looking windbreakers from the 80s that seemed to keep us safe from any and all harm? I don’t know if it’s because we live 20 miles from the CDC, but for the last week or so Jackson has been coming home from school with papers from DeKalb County regarding their escalating fear of the Coronavirus. Which makes sense, since our actual president just blamed our old president for the pandemic. Jesus. Someone has to take this seriously, and well, I guess the CDC is. But where does leave people like me?

There are confirmed cases in the ATL. In fact, the confirmed cases came through Hartsfield-Jackson. So when I looked at my husband last night and said, “Should we worry?” and he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Maybe,” that’s all it took. Cause he’s the logical one, y’all. Not me.

Now I’m worried. So is Jerimiah. And so is Jackson. In fact, Jackson has been worried since the beginning. He’s the most knowledgeable on the topic. It probably has something to do with the fact that his teacher’s wife works for the CDC. He’s the first person to refer to it as “Novel Covid-19” and explain to me, and a table full of our dinner guests, that we probably need to take it a bit more seriously than say, our federal government. My 11-year-old said the Coronavirus spreads like negativity, and it’s true.

So here’s my current plan: Buy some fresh hand sani, if there is any left at Target. Wear clothes we don’t mind burning if we need to. And make sure no one licks anything. It’s harder than you think with a kid. And I guess if we get Covid-19 on public transportation, or the plane, or the airport, well, then watch out Kansas City, cause we’re bringing it to you. And by the time you figure out that we brought it, we’ll be gone.

See you soon!

M.

These Colors Don’t Run

Some weeks I have a very strict idea about what I am going to write about every day. In fact, in my planner (yes, I use a paper planner) I write each day, then make a little box for checking the day off when I write, and next to the box I sometimes write the topic. I do this to sort of will myself into writing about a certain subject. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Today’s box said, “Oakland Cemetery”. Oakland Cemetery is a cool place. It’s another famous southern cemetery that we recently visited. It’s in the heart of Atlanta and it is where Margaret Mitchell is buried, so I went to sacrifice a penny on her gravesite, as many writers before me have done. The problem is somedays when I actually sit down to write, what I intend to write is not what comes up. Today is one of those days. Today I woke up thinking about the phrase, “These Colors Don’t Run” and the first time I ever heard that phrase, and I can’t get it out of my head, so I just have to write about it. Margaret Mitchell and Oakland will have to wait.

The first time I ever heard or read this phrase was in a shopping mall in my hometown in 1991. It was during the Gulf War, and I lived in Leavenworth, Kansas. If you’ve never heard of Leavenworth then bless your heart. Go find a John Wayne movie on Amazon Prime and wait. At some point he will talk about a “bad guy” either of black or brown skin, and he will say something along the lines of, “I’ll be seeing them in Leavenworth,” then he will ride away into the California sunset. He just means he’s rounding them up and sending them to prison, probably because in the movie they stole cows or killed a white woman. Same. Same. Leavenworth is a prison town, but it’s also an army town and home to the historically-famous Fort Leavenworth, on the banks of the Missouri River.

This is all to say that when the Gulf War was happening (the first time the Bush’s tried to make money off Middle Eastern oil) Leavenworth was a hot-bed for pro-war shit. I was a third grader with no real idea what was happening, and both my sisters (who had been married and moved out of the house) were suddenly back home (with two and a half kids in tow) while both their husbands fought on the front lines overseas. It was a stressful, confusing, chaotic time in my life.

So from the summer of 1990 to the summer of 1991 my mom, my two sisters, my two, then three nephews, and third-grader Missy lived all lived together in our two-bedroom apartment in Leavenworth. We watched the news every, single night on a small 19-inch colored television. On the weekends I would sometimes go with my sisters who would volunteer to do things around the community in support of their husbands with the other Army wives. Maybe we’d pass our yellow ribbons, or man a table at the local shopping plaza to pass out buttons in support of our troops. I always went because usually someone bought me ice cream afterward. That’s it. That was my driving motivation.

One particular Saturday morning I stood at a table with my sister and handed out buttons. I don’t remember what they looked like, but I know they said, “These Colors Don’t Run” on them, so I’m guessing they were something like this:

I know we had entered Operation Desert Storm (or Shield, I think they were two different operations, maybe) at this point, because I had a shirt on that said it too. Here look, this is third grade me in my favorite “Operation Desert Shield” shirt:

I know it was my favorite, and probably only one, because my mom has like 15 pictures of me in it from that single year. Here I am in March of 1991 holding my newborn nephew Josh, who is legit getting married next month:

Just for the record, that’s not a mullet. That’s just my mom cutting my bangs, but refusing to let me cut the rest of my hair, so I always wore it in a pony tail and it sometimes looked like a mullet.

Anywho, there I was standing at a table passing out these buttons and I vividly remember looking down at one of them and thinking, “What the hell does that even mean?” I mean, how can colors run? Which colors? Red, white, and blue? Run from what? From bad guys? Who are the bad guys? What is happening?

Something like that started to unfurl in my brain and I was, for the first time, very scared about the war. About never seeing my brothers-in-law again. About having to see my sisters cry a lot.

It sort of got worse before it got better after that. I started having nightmares about bombs, which were just little flashes of light that I’d see explode on our small tv whenever Tom Brokaw would come on in the evening. My teacher would ask if I’d been sleeping. I’d lie and say yes. But mainly I’d just lay awake at night, pretending to sleep until two, maybe three in the morning, when my sisters’ whispered voices and the low hum of the tv stopped for the night.

Both my brothers-in-law made it back home safely, but not without problems. They aren’t my sisters’ husbands anymore, and I had a few more nephews over the years.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that “These Colors Don’t Run” was a bad pun, at best. My mother said something one day about washing colored clothes with whites, and it hit me. Ah, yes. These colors don’t run. They don’t run away from necessary war. They also, it would seem, don’t run away from unnecessary war either. Some things never change.

M.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come again another day. I mean I know you will, because it’s Georgia for fuck’s sake and apparently Georgia needs rain in order to survive. Why else would it rain EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in the wintertime? What’s that? Gulf Stream weather patterns? No, I don’t believe you. I’m claiming ignorance on that one. Sticking on a red hat and saying, “But I’m cold, so Global Warming is just a liberal hoax.” Side note: Did you see that it was 70 degrees in Antartica the other day and the penguin babies had to roll around in mud to keep themselves cool?” No? Look.

Okay, I don’t feel so bad about the rain now, this baby penguin has it much worse.

To dryer days, y’all and cooler temps.

M.

Jackson and the Tornado and the Mayor and the President

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I’m going to take you on a long, sordid stroll down memory lane. When Jackson was four months old President Obama was sworn into office. We felt a great sense of relief that a man like Obama would represent our country, and we just knew he would be the sort of example we wanted for our child. Years later he was still the president when Jackson wrote the White House for advice on how to become the President of the United States one day. But first it started with a tornado, and a trip to the Mayor’s office.

When Jackson was in preschool he asked his first political questions. They came from a mind geared toward safety, like most things that consumed him at that time (and still do). We lived in Branson, Missouri at the time and at the start of 2012 a tornado hit “The Strip” in Branson, causing destruction to several attractions and theaters. It even destroyed Jerimiah’s office. We lived about five miles off “The Strip” and ended up sleeping through the whole thing, but abruptly at 6:00 am Jerimiah’s boss called to tell him not to come to work that day since their building was on the verge of collapse. Of course he did go to work, to help with the clean-up, and we went with him. This one event had a lasting impact on pre-k Jackson, who just a year before, had watched on the television as his PawPaw’s house was destroyed in the Joplin, Missouri Tornado of 2011. In short, he had some concerns.

All of this stewed in his mind for about a year before one day he walked downstairs and told me that he needed to talk to the Mayor of Branson about tornado safety. Of course I did what any mom would do to appease my four-year-old, I tweeted the Mayor. I told her about my son’s worry over the city’s storm readiness and asked if she would meet with him to discuss our severe weather plan. It was a shot in the dark, but it worked. She tweeted back moments later to say let’s meet up. For real. And two weeks later we were special guests in the Mayor’s office on a casual Friday. Here are the pics from the day we met Branson’s mayor Raeanne Presley.

This visit planted a seed in him, and he decided right then and there he would one day run for public office. We figured he would run for local office, as did the Mayor, so when she asked if he would like to be a mayor one day we were all surprised when he said, “Nah,” in his very adorable preschool voice. “I think I’ll be the president.”

The president, he explained, had much bigger problems to solve than severe weather readiness, on a much larger platform. And he knew he was better prepared for that road ahead. That’s when Jackson really dug his feet in, and for the next four years or so when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up it was either a police officer or the president. Nothing in between.

Fast forward to first grade. We’re sitting at our table in North Carolina one balmy November day eating chili. Jackson asked me if I thought President Obama liked chili. Because Jackson liked chili and he really wanted to be like President Obama. (Side note: Remember when we had a president our kids could look up to? Those were the days…) Anywho, I said I didn’t know, but suggested Jackson write him a letter and ask. (I really just wanted him to work on his handwriting and this seemed like a great excuse. I never thought anything would come of it.)

So we sat at the kitchen table, eating our chili, and I helped him sound out the words he was writing. He asked about chili, about the president’s dogs, about his kids, and advice on becoming a president like him. Then we stamped it, stuck it in the mailbox, and forgot all about it. Until months later when this arrived.

Jackson was less excited than I thought he would be, but later I realized it was because he always assumed the president would write back. I, on the other hand, figured it got lost in White House mail and that was that. So he was very casual as he opened the envelope, while Jerimiah and I stood behind him in excitement and anticipation. This was inside:

Now the letter is standard boiler plate, a-kid-sent-a-letter-stuff, but wow was he happy to hold it in his hands. He felt very proud and very important, which he has always felt, but I mean come on, a letter from the sitting president and President Obama no the less, our favorite, most awesome president ever! This was amazing. We celebrated. He shared with his class. People said to frame it. It was a big deal in our house.

The letter lit a fire under him like we’d never seen and he was suddenly very interested in the election process and the campaigning, and how it all worked. That was until 2016, when his world, and all of ours really, came crashing down.

As the results came in that night, and as we navigated the painful and pitiful months that followed, Jackson could be found crying at night because his friend Angel from Mexico might get “sent back.” Back to where, we didn’t know, since Angel was born in North Carolina, but his parents were not. It was sad and it was disheartening. Particularly when Jackson declared he no longer wanted to be the president. Suddenly the president he idolized was gone and in came this monster of a man who scared him. Gave him nightmares. Gave us all nightmares.

Jackson saw President Obama as an example, he knew he had what it takes to lead our country if he held his head high and was a class act like President Obama. If he cared. If he was honest and nice. If he went to a good school, maybe got a law degree, worked his way up in small steps. But when he saw how President Trump was elected. How people talked about him. How he treated people from different cultures and countries. How he scared people. How he talked about women. (We always told him the truth about Trump, and didn’t shield him from the sort of man he is.) How Trump used words like “retard” a word that has the worst sort of connotation in our house considering Jackson’s baby sister never made it full-term because of a brain “retardation.” Well, Jackson was done dreaming of becoming the president.

Jackson told me one day in third grade, “maybe politics isn’t what I thought it was…” and I had to agree with him. Because at that moment, and in the years that have followed, American politics has collapsed before our very eyes. There is not truth, no integrity, no bi-partisanship. There’s just anger, and fear, and hate. And it doesn’t suit a kid like mine.

So there you have it. The story of Jackson and the tornado and the Mayor and the President. I still hold out hope (like when we visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library last year and Jackson commented on what a “nice guy” he was) that Jackson might change his mind one day. And I still have faith that his generation will turn this sinking ship around, if we fail to do so. Maybe that’s the optimist in me. Or maybe I just have all the faith in my sweet, honest, hard-working, critical-thinking kid. Either way, I know he will do great things for his family, his community, his country, and his world. Even if it isn’t in the Oval Office. Because like President Obama said in his letter, “If you remember to give back to your community and chase your dreams with passion, I have confidence you will do big things…”

Thanks President Obama, we tend to agree.

M.