by J J Cohen
So much to read here these days.
A brief, personal note. In a rather incoherent post composed on my iPad, I spoke about my son's experience of having been hazed two months ago by upperclassmen. His school failed him profoundly, and I failed him as well by insisting he attend that day despite his request to remain at home. The effects have stayed with Alex in ways we've only just realized. He is enrolled in two classes far enough above his grade level that the majority of his fellow students are significantly older. These are also two classes in which his grades have plummeted. Alex pieced together over the weekend the reason why: it is difficult to feel safe among people who for a day were given license to abuse you. We've met with a guidance counselor and she was wonderful. We've hired a study skills and organization tutor to assist him in feeling some sense of mastery when it comes to the classes. I'm sure that we're on the road to better things, but the path will be long and steep. Meanwhile my in-laws have moved back to the DC area, gravely ill. It has been stressful for my family to cope.
This morning I ran in clear, cold air, an eye on the gibbous moon. Its brightness overpowers most stars, but I could see something shining fiercely on the southeast horizon. I'm guessing it was a planet. Running, enjoying the cold and scanning the skies for astronomical signs, I thought about my family's time this summer in Australia. For a few days we rented an EcoLodge in the Grampians, a mountain range in Victoria. The lodges have minimal electricity from solar power, and are heated by a wood stove that you have to stoke during the night. There are drawbacks in luxury, I suppose, but you get to live in the bush in a very nice little cabin. One of my fondest memories is of waking up at two in the morning to put some more wood into the stove. Feeling restless, I went outside, knowing my family was comfortably asleep. I walked twenty feet or so away from the lodge and looked up at a sky so alien I was overwhelmed. The stars were extraordinarily brilliant and wholly unfamiliar. I could hear a kangaroo grazing nearby but could not see it. I was cold, but something about being there -- in a strange place, a place of great beauty, where nothing was ordinary and yet I felt so at home -- has stayed with me. Maybe it was also knowing that my family was together, safe, happy, warm, removed from the world of worries in that other hemisphere.
Running this morning, eye on that hunchback moon and the star or planet that wouldn't be outshone, I was thinking about being a world away.
I am so sorry that this happened to your son. You've given your readers a very real heads-up, and I am grateful. As I listen to my 9-year old's stories of anti-bullying role-playing (?!?) workshops at school gone awry, I wonder about these times. The beautiful scene in Australia that you describe is the only thing that makes sense.
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