Category Archives: inauguration

Where we were

            We were all buckled into the car by 8:30 yesterday morning, pulling out of the driveway to the sound of NPR’s coverage of the inauguration.  My plan was to listen on the drive to school and then hope there was a radio playing at the preschool.  If not, I was prepared to keep all the kids in the car to listen for as long as it took.  I didn’t have a concrete plan for how to keep a two-year-old, a four-year-old and an infant content listening to NPR right outside their preschool for a half an hour.  I figured I’d play that one by ear.

            Benjamin was delighted as the band struck up, as he had been informed there would be no music on this morning’s drive.  We sped along the 405, which was surprisingly empty for that time of day.  I got off at Sunset, stopping for a light behind several cars at the top of the ramp.  I began to cry as Biden was announced, so relieved was I that the Bush era was about to end.  When the light turned, I pulled forward.

            And that’s when I saw him.  Standing between the two lanes of traffic, holding his sign: “Hungry.”  He hasn’t been there for a few weeks, and so I have stopped bringing food for him.  I did have a pear in the car, and I wanted to give it to him.  He likes pears.  He used to have them growing in his yard when he was a child.  But, by the time I saw him, I was already pulling past him, unable to stop without causing an accident.

            And so, I pulled on past, listening to the sound of change on my radio.  We drove into the preschool parking lot at 8:50.  The director was just at the gate, and before I turned off the car, I asked her if there was a radio going inside.

            “We have a TV set up,” she replied.  I hustled Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledette out of the car and into the lobby, where, for the next 15 minutes, parents, children, and teachers began to collect.  And that’s where I was at the historic moment – a boy on each knee and a baby strapped to my chest, crying on the floor on the preschool.  Right where I needed to be.

            Of course, one mother bitched about it.  She was unhappy that she had not been informed in advance that the inauguration would be playing.  “It’s for the parents, not the kids,” she snipped.  Maybe her kid had no idea what was going on, but Zach sure knew.  We’re one of those hippy-dippy houses where we talk about things going on in the world.  To counteract little Miss Self Involved, I thanked the director for giving me a chance to have this experience with my children.

            And out on the freeway ramp, there was a man who once grew up with a pear tree in his yard.

Yertle and McDreamy

            “Is Georges Bush still the leader of the kingdom?” Zachary asked me last week.

            “He is, baby, but only for another week,” I replied, thinking smugly about how Yertle the Turtle ended up, turtle head deep in the mud and feet flailing about in the air as he fell from his perch of egotism and stupidity.

            Not long after, Zach asked another question.  “Why do we pick a new President?  Why does Georges Bush stop being President?”

            “Well, they have to take turns.  George Bush’s turn is over, and so we picked Barack Obama to do it next.”

            “I’m glad that Mr. Pain is not going to be President,” he went on.  “I’m glad they picked the smartest one.”

            “I’m glad John McCain isn’t going to be President, too,” I told him.  And I am.  I am glad that we picked a man who shares my values, a man I can trust.  I am relieved we chose a man who is smarter than I am, because I am pretty damned sure that I have no idea how to fix the problems we now face.

            You know, things like a collapsing economy.  Or, is it already collapsed?  I haven’t the faintest of clues how to prop it up again, and I am only too happy to put my trust in someone else.

            Plus, there is a bit of political upheaval going on.  Nowadays, you can’t throw a dart at a map of the Middle East without hitting a war of some sort.  I have no idea what can be done to resolve conflicts going back thousands of years, violence based in ethnic hatred and modern economic disparities, and I am mighty glad it is not my job to figure it out.

            Oh, and there are all those melting ice caps, plus two continent-sized flotillas of plastic out in the middle of the ocean.  I’m pretty content that I am not in charge of thinking about those things, too.

            In a few hours, Barack Obama will become President, right about the time I drop the boys at preschool.  Zach and I will stop and look at the clock, and we will note the exact moment that George W. gets smacked in the ass by the door.  He has left behind a colossal disaster, and I can only imagine how Obama must feel stepping right into an Oval Office knee-deep in offal.  People have awfully high hopes that he will be able to fix the economy, end the war(s), and stop global warming.  Theses are rough times for becoming the most powerful man in the world, and he must have a serious case of First-Day Jitters.

            I’ll leave the boys at preschool, relieved that they are someone else’s problem for a few hours, but before long I will have to come back and get them.  We can only hand the tough jobs over to someone else for so long.  The fact is that a good leader of the kingdom does not perch, Yertle-like, on our shoulders, looking out over his domain.  A true leader guides us in our work of cleaning up the mud that we would all rather ignore around our feet.

            So, welcome to President McDreamy.  I’m so very glad it’s your turn.