In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Childhood Revisited.”  … is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

Fear. I would choose less fear.

Children are amazingly adaptive. At two or three they’ve already attained a yardstick, a ‘normal’ beside which everything else is measured. Whether they share one room with their family – dirt floor, leaky roof, pallets of straw for beds and, very rarely, a piece of chicken from a bird caught and killed out back – or they are well fed, well-groomed children of plenty, this is their normal. An overwhelmed mother. An absent father. Close, annoying brothers. Smiles. Hugs. Slaps. Vacations. Pain. Dad holding you tight as you learn to ride a bike. Mom all snuggly in her bathrobe. Hunger. Silence. Shouts. Tears. Good schools or the horrifying school of the street. Normal is what a child sees when she looks around.

My normal was fear. The sick feeling in your stomach. The overwhelming need to watch, to listen, to gauge the temperature of the room as your foot steps over the threshold. It wasn’t the fear of hunger, or need, alcoholism or abandonment, but it was fear. And it was as real to me as the green shag carpeting or the tiny B&W television with four channels.

I remember anger. Yelling. Learned all my swear words pretty young. There was some hitting, some hair pulling, some cruelty – but it was usually couched as games, as discipline, as clever tricks, and any pain or hurt or despair on my part was labelled “too sensitive,” or “you should be smarter,” or “toughening you up,” or “haven’t you figured it out yet?”

Do you know what the expectation of harm does? It makes you afraid, yes, but it also makes you into a liar. A manipulator. Someone who can show the right face in the right circumstances in order to avoid harmful results. It makes you into an avoider. A sometimes oily, sometimes deceitful person who is always trying to figure out what particular combination of words, attitude, and actions to deploy to receive affection instead of anger, love instead of loathing, and peace instead of violence. You want to control everything, because, only then, can you be safe.

Fear was my reaction. My brother and sister had their own means of coping – or non-coping, I guess. We love each other, but we weren’t there for each other back then. We didn’t know how to do that. We learned, my sister and I – about the Love that drives away all fear – but that’s a different story.

I wish I could say that my daughter is free from fear. That she grew up with a perfect mom and dad; that I’d learned so much from past generations that her childhood was one for the storybooks. Too bad I don’t seem able to lie to myself quite as easily as I learned to lie to others. But she’s fierce and fabulous, smart and loving, a giver, a loyal friend and unselfish helper.

I suppose, to answer the second part of the prompt, I wish her a life of courage. Of strength. Of peace and joy. I hope she will find a spouse that will love her, comfort her, and show her there is another way to live, just like her father did for me. I want her to be able to let go, laugh long and hard with milk dripping from her nose, wear nerdy t-shirts or formal gowns, stop to help strangers. Trust God. Trust herself.

And I’ll continue to pray daily for my daughter’s safety, because, as far as I’ve come, some fear is still there. Like a child squeezed into a corner of my soul, eyes closed so that I don’t see her, fear sits in the dark. I do see her. I hear her in nightmares, and sometimes, in the words coming from my own mouth. Yeah, I’m a work in progress. Progressing out of darkness and into the light.

From Fear to Love


An Open Letter to the Great Joss Whedon

744349_640x640wcAvast! There be Spoilers Here! And possibly some very unpopular opinions about a current box office mega-hit! Very, very unpopular. You’ve been warned!

Dear Joss,


I’m such a big fan! My daughter and I grew to love your writing while watching Buffy and Angel together. Such funny, smart stuff that even a mom could appreciate the teen angst. Great characters, heroes and heroines, great fight scenes – and the sarcasm! Fantastic! Sure, there were misses. But, geez, you had a long run there, and a few misses among the masterpieces are easy to forget. Although, the Adam storyline… well. We’ll say no more about that.

And then, Firefly! Oh, I wrote my share of letters to Fox when they screwed all of us over, let me tell you. A true tragedy that we didn’t get years and years of the adventures of Captain Tightpants and his crew of misfits. You were certainly ahead of your time.

And then I find that you’re writing the first Avengers movie. I was over the moon! And you didn’t disappoint, did you? It was funny, it was angsty, it was filled with teamy goodness. I’ve been a Marvel comic book fan since my girlhood – always loved the Avengers – so this was a marriage made in heaven for me. You + Hawkeye + Black Widow + the rest of them = genius! I was sad that Hawkeye didn’t get to do much in movie #1, but I had faith. And the funny moments? No one will ever forget the Hulk slamming Loki into the floor. “Puny god.” I’m pretty sure I was not the only one snorting Coca-Cola out of my nose.

So it is with a heavy heart that I pen this letter after my second viewing of Avengers 2, or, as I like to call it, Buffy and Angel, the Greener Years.

First and foremost, I regret your clear case of retrograde amnesia. How much of your life have you forgotten? Obviously, there is some lasting damage, as you’ve forgotten that Clint had no family to worry about or ask about or be in the least little bit concerned about in A1. Or that Black Widow was wearing an arrow necklace, a token of her man, throughout Captain America 2. Or that they both are actually superheroes and not Buffy and Xander reincarnated. Or that Black Widow is not a damsel in distress whose most terrible memory/regret from the Red Room is that she can’t have babies with her man.

Your amnesia must be a horrible burden, just as you’ve burdened us with a re-do of your Buffy/Angel trope that the woman must never get to, er, consummate her romance with her man because he’ll turn into a monster. Vampire or Hulk, a monster is a monster. I hope Mark Ruffalo didn’t mind being relegated to sad faces and David Boreanaz’s re-worked dialogue. Weird that your mind keeps coming back to this teen angst, even in your tender state. You’ll laugh, but, honestly, after Natasha stared at that wall for a long time because her man done gone away, I was waiting for her to say, “Fire bad, tree pretty.” If the Hulk ends up in LA battling an evil law firm, well, won’t that be a surprise?

I was happy to see Spike and Drusilla again! They were some of my favorite bad guys who turned into not so bad guys! Sure, they have new names – Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – but the hair and the bad accents, well, they were a dead giveaway! Although, I was a little confused – or you were – to find that the Scarlet Witch turned into Willow in the middle of the flick. What with the red eyes, red hair, magic, and total meltdown and revenge-mode when her buddy got whacked.

Then there’s Hawkeye. Did I mention that Xander was always my favorite? The heart of the team, the only one who didn’t have any super powers, just fixed the furniture and remodeled the Summers’ house whenever it was wrecked. I did have a bit of a moment when Hawkeye walked in on his very sudden family – shades of Dawn! Is Laura going to turn out to be some kind of mystical key? I have to say that I sure hope so because that would be the least depressing explanation for this madness. And, yikes, the name of the character is just a little on the nose, isn’t it? Xander, the one who “watches,” and with his one eye, and Hawkeye, the guy with the amazing vision? It is kind of a shame that The Amazing Hawkeye now is stuck babysitting and remodeling the dining room instead of actually being considered a founding member of the Avengers. Coulson must be rolling in his not-grave for recruiting the guy. Unless he did all his house repairs on the cheap.

About halfway through your trip down memory lane, I was honestly wishing Faith would appear. You know, like in Season 7? The one with all the Potentials and the time-outs for speeches? For long, boring monologues on the part of the main characters? And then Faith calls Buffy on it, rolling her eyes and taking everyone out for tequila?? Yeah, I really missed that character, because you sure made time for the speechifying, didn’t you? And, frankly, we all could have used that tequila. Adam, er, I mean Ultron made speeches. Spike/Pietro made speeches. The Vision made speeches. Giles, er, I mean Fury made speeches. Yikes.

But, hey, Buffy was a wonderful era, so I don’t wonder that your mind is kind of stuck back there. I hope you get help, soon. Especially as this was supposed to be Avengers 2, so somewhat of a sequel to the first movie. The movie where Black Widow didn’t get kidnapped so that her man could rescue her, she got kidnapped as a plan of her own to get information out of her targets and then managed to beat them to a pulp and rescue herself. Where Fury was a badass and not a kind, gentle mentor who truly “cared” about his team. Where mind control was used against the team by a sarcastic, larger-than-life bad guy. Where Tony and Steve argue and fight until they realize they are, after all, on the same side. So, been there – done that.

The loss must be very painful. I hope all the money you’re making from the fans who were actually hoping for a sequel, with grown-up men and women – superheroes – not shabbily re-written teen angst eases your pain.

Still a fan,