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If I were a witch…

  • Posted on August 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

In the last couple of months, I’ve watched all 8 seasons of Charmed. I didn’t much care for the Prue/Paige switch up. I didn’t much care for the way they axed out Cole. But I kept watching. Unlike the upheavals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I didn’t buy into it nearly as much after a while. I mean, I “get” the whole Paige deal, both from a practical angle and from a story angle. But, really, did they have to make her quite so consistently, persistently bratty?

The Cole thing really bugs me. To go ahead and spoil things, Cole starts out evil, then he falls in love with his “mark” and becomes good, then he becomes evil to save the one he loves, and then he becomes good by being stripped of his powers, and then he saves the one he loves and becomes evil again—this time through absolutely no fault of his own. And then they “kill” him for it. Except, dead isn’t so very much dead for him. He comes back, less evil, and tries to be good. But they’re just done with him.

The thing that brought Buffy to mind is that it was once revealed that Buffy’s two vampire romances were both metaphors for different kinds of abusive relationships. It was intentional. I suspect, on some level, the Cole thing was the same kind of deal. The message being that love can’t save someone who is abusive.

On the one hand, Cole reminds me a bit of another topic that grates. Cole will do anything to save his love. As a parent, I will do almost anything to help my children. Yet, I define help as being “help my children to be wholly and completely the best selves they can be” and not as “help my children to become normal.” That’s a distinguishing factor. I also define help as “do no harm,” which means I’m not going to risk their health to make them what I want them to be. I stress almost anything because there are trade-offs. I’d rather be poor and raise my children than rob a bank and give them wealth. If an attacker broke into our house and threated my children, then I believe I’d be able to kill to save them, but I could never be an assassin to earn our bread. Almost anything.

Cole doesn’t get the value of almost anything.

If I were a witch, it wouldn’t be like Charmed. I have a tenacious belief in free will. Being a werewolf or a vampire or a human being doesn’t make you a monster. What you choose to do with what you’re dealt makes or breaks you. You don’t have to be evil just because others say you are. You have a choice. Cole’s choices, while misguided, were driven by the greatest power this world knows: the power to love another more than the self. That can be nurtured. That can be harnessed. That’s the stuff of miracles.

I’m all for saving innocents or, rather, innocence. But I can’t help but think that Christ didn’t come to save the innocents. He came to save the guilty. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We’ve all sinned. We’re all fallen. None of us are truly innocent. But that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to be good and it doesn’t mean we’re not worth saving.

If I were a witch, I wouldn’t magically cure my children. I might try to write a spell that enables Alex to talk, but he’d talk as a person with autism, a person who is one version of autism. If I were a witch, I wouldn’t devote all my energies to saving innocents. I would devote my energies to helping people see the consequences of their choices, so they could make better choices. I would try to empower others, using magic to release the untapped potential in those I meet. But you don’t need magic for that; you need love—the kind of love that values others as much as or even more than the self. Then again, maybe that is magic, maybe it’s the best magic of all.

The Warmth of Home

  • Posted on December 13, 2010 at 4:16 PM

After the storm came through the Midwest, the older boys started hoping that school would be canceled.  It takes a lot for Janesville to cancel school, and we weren’t getting any more snow this morning, so I didn’t really expect it.  But this morning I checked before I woke the boys up, and I’m glad I did.

School wasn’t canceled.  We weren’t expecting more snow.  And, for Wisconsin, we really didn’t get that much.  We only got a few inches of rainy ice and a few inches of snow.  We certainly didn’t get the collapse-the-roof-of-the-Metrodome type of storm other areas got.  But, after seeing that many school districts were either canceling or delaying school (mostly due to rural routes that aren’t plowed as quickly as the city routes), I also checked the weather. 

This morning we had a severe weather warning due to the extreme cold in the area.  Because of wind chill and the remnants of the storm system, the outside conditions put vulnerable people at risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

Now, it’s not like I honestly expected that my boys might get frostbite during the short walk from the house to the bus and from the bus to the school.  Nor did I expect the schools to keep them outside waiting until school started.  The boys could have gone to school.  Considering the snow, it was safe enough for them.  However, I kept the boys home. 

A key factor in the warning was to “dress warm” and wear “hats and gloves.”  Most winter days this isn’t a problem.  The boys have all gotten over their sensory issues with hats and gloves, so they’ll actually wear them.  We have hats, gloves, warm coats, snow pants, and snow boots for each of the boys.  I can bundle them all up nice and warm and send them out the door.

But then there are those sensory issues again.  They’ll wear all of their warm stuff.  But, they also chew on their gloves and they chew on the upper part of their coat—you know the part of the collar that goes up over the mouth and maybe as far as the nose, the part with the zipper.  Most of the time, considering the relatively small amount of time they spend outside, this is just a risk of chafing.  Ben’s little face gets red and chapped.  So does Willy’s and Alex’s, though not quite as bad as Ben’s does.  Little fingers get cold wearing those saliva-wet gloves.

Of course, today there was that warning.  Temperatures, with wind chill, well below zero.  Risk of hypothermia and frostbite.  The boys hadn’t had many absences, so I figured it was a good time to keep them home.  Let them stay out of the cold and keep all their little noses, fingers, and chins warm and dry.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of keeping up with the boys, it’s easy to forget all the little things we do differently.  There are so many big differences that sometimes these little differences don’t seem important.  But, then a day like this comes along right after a weekend of tears and frustration.  And I realize I have to make choices on my children’s behalf all the time.  Sometimes it’s minor, like keeping them home from school on a bitterly cold day.  Other times it’s a much bigger decision.  But all I can do is the best I can for my kids…and take the consequences as they come.  Whether it involves monitoring medication and side effects or helping Willy catch up with his classmates because he missed a day of school, this is my life.  As hard as it is sometimes, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.