What a week this has been. The first week with the babies, KidThree finally had to testify, we got paid some babysitting money so I could do a little shopping, and the SSI check didn't come, so I haven't paid the rent yet. The babies go home early on Friday so I can have one afternoon a week to tend to errands and things that can't easily be handled with infants in tow, but today I was so tired, I just lay down and went straight to sleep. So much for productivity.
Yesterday KidThree finished her testimony. KidOne was home with the babies, so I didn't have to miss this section of the trial. It was important to me to help get her situated in the witness box, to be able to give her a quick hug and kiss there, instead of being at home. Because the bailiff had to put a ramp in place and then it took a deputy (the serendipitously named Deputy Strong) to get KidThree up the ramp, she was helped into the witness box while the juries were out on a break. This was partly to avoid embarrassment for her and partly to avoid rubbing the juries' faces in just how life-changing that one little bullet was to my beautiful girl. That was why I got to go up to the box with her and give her those all-important hugs and kisses.
Once she was situated and at ease, the juries came back in. Right off the bat my girl got them back in the palm of her hand when she looked up at the judge and asked if she could please have her laser pointer back. Giggles all around at that. Several times she corrected the lawyers; for example, "I didn't say I saw gloves, I said I saw A Glove." She is one seriously detail-oriented person. FriendJ had met us there so she could provide emotional support for at least some of the time (she had to leave early because of a schedule conflict); she left determined to help get KidThree into law school. And KidThree is interested in going! My daughter, the lawyer. My but that sounds good to my ear.
That session was more testimony and cross-examination about who shot when and where everyone was when the shooting took place. It was hard to hear. To know that KidThree was there, was trapped, was terrified, was unable to escape, and I wasn't there to protect her. And it was all so stupid and pointless! Just a street argument that escalated and escalated and escalated. It's easy to say that KidThree should have left when things got ugly, but that was her environment, she knew what was and wasn't safe, and she knew that if she ran, she stood a good chance of being shot. Staying still and ducking meant at least she only risked being shot by accident. She lost that gamble, but I understand her rationale.
Those damned gangs. Damned drugs. Damned broken, shattered families that are little more than shared DNA. It's easy to say the kids should just stay away from the gangs, stay in school, and escape when they are grown, but the reality is that if a kid in one of those neighborhoods shuns the gangs, the gangs will make him a target, assaulting him repeatedly, or outright killing him. If a kid doesn't wear the 'neighborhood colors,' he gets assaulted. If a girl tries to stay apart, she will be assaulted by the neighborhood girls, who are frequently more vicious than the boys. Intervention needs to be at the neighborhood level, block by block by block. Boys' and Girls' Clubs, community centers, block parents, after-school programs, places where kids can be safe until a trusted adult is able to get off from work. Cops in the neighborhoods, cops who know the residents and know what everyone is dealing with. Small grocery stores every few blocks so residents in impoverished neighborhoods can get decent food instead of just ramen. People matter. Children matter. If a child is born to someone who can't provide for that child, for whatever reason, there should be support systems in place to provide that child the structure and safety that should be coming from home. It's easy to say 'personal responsibility' like it is a magic bullet, but children aren't responsible for who they're born to, or to say 'Just Say No,' when there is no other apparent relief from the never-ending grinding down of one's self. An infant is innocent, whether born to a millionaire or a crackhead. CPS can't possibly keep up as families and neighborhoods implode. All of that intervention takes money, money, money, but I bet it is cheaper to put the money up front than to lock up all those children eighteen years after their birth. As it is now, kids in KidThree's home neighborhood are being born simply to be knocked up or locked up by the time they are fifteen or sixteen. By the time they can vote, they've got a couple of kids or a couple of jail sentences, and frequently they have both. It has nothing to do with the children as individuals, and very little to do with the adults who love those children and try to protect them. It's the all-pervasive poison and violence in the neighborhoods in which they live, poison that comes into their homes through the cracks and under their doors, violence that awaits outside those doors and in their schoolyards and even in their classrooms.
On a more positive note, the babies have been terrific. BabyOne appears to be a little fussier than BabyTwo, but she is relatively easy to soothe. I'm reassured to find that I can hold them both at once and feed them both at once, something I had been a little concerned about. It is definitely work to watch them, but work that is manageable and so much fun. I think it will go well.
It's been nice to keep putting things together. It's as if we have finally started downhill and are picking up speed, with things falling into place more and more quickly as I go along. I can actually see real progress, actual floor space being cleared, real boxes being emptied, flattened, and put out for recycling. It's lovely. I told KidThree that I wanted to get a nice television for the living room after all the necessary furniture is in place, at which point she called her bio-mother to find out how to get one cheaply. Unfortunately, bio-mom's way is to buy stolen goods, something that I won't do. (But yes, I was tempted, just for a minute.)
The debate. Oh my. Sarah Palin did better than I expected, but only in a creepy, Stepford way. It was obvious that she had been carefully prepped, that she had memorized her talking points in complete paragraphs, and that she was entirely incapable of talking off the cuff. I could see little cartoon bureaucrats scurrying around in the carefully installed situation room in her head, saying, "recorders heard Target Phrase 'Global Warming,' check response from File Drawer Seventeen;" or "Target Phrase 'The Surge' identified, the answer is down the stacks in Bin B-as-in-Boy!" And all the while the little cartoon construction workers behind her smile ensured it stayed firmly plastered to her face, regardless of the topic being recited. It is awful beyond words to know that I live in a country where a significant percentage of the citizens can be swayed by so false a presentation. Katie Couric asking Palin what newspapers she's read is a 'media filter?' I've gotten to the point where I think logic needs to be taught in the middle grades or early in high school, before the majority of drop-outs have left; a teacher of logic would rip those debates to shreds.
I'll just keep trying, as best I can, to make my little home here a refuge from all that idiocy, lunacy, irrationality, and violence that lurks just outside my door, and I'll keep trying to keep KidThree protected as she blossoms.