Sunday, May 15, 2011

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere

That's what Martin Luther King Jr. once said.

So when I heard of the injustice surrounding a harmless high school prom proposal, I could not sit by quietly. No, I had a bone to pick with the administrators of Shelton High School in Connecticut.

I had never heard of Shelton High School, nor the young man, James Tate, who had single-handedly revived chivalry. But I didn't care.

"I'm gettin' on the horn, and I'm calling the school," I announced at 8:30 the other morning to my husband. I had just caught a glimpse of a segment on the Today Show about a high school senior who was banned from his prom because he trespassed on school property, climbed a ladder, and wrote in tape on the school building:

("HMU" means "hit me up" or "call me")

"Really? Is this REALLY how you're starting your day?" my husband asked, rolling his eyes. He took a deep breath as I punched the numbers into the phone, while I fed our son Cheerios.

"Yes, with whom may I speak about the decision to ban James Tate from the prom?" I inquired. I spoke as if James Tate was my son or perhaps my nephew.

A lady on the other end of the line snorted, "You can talk to me, I guess."

"Okay, great," I replied. "I have to say, I have never heard of a more romantic, creative, and innocent gesture," I began, "and banning him from the prom is just completely excessive and wrong."

"Well, I DISAGREE," the school secretary/hench woman interjected.

"You may disagree, but seriously, there are teenagers doing TERRIBLE things every day, and all this boy did was ask a girl to the prom. He didn't hurt anyone, didn't damage any property. I mean, come on, one day of suspension is enough! I have to imagine you guys are going to reconsider this decision to ban James Tate from the prom?"

"I don't think sooooooo," the secretary sang with glee.

"Well, you're making a huge mistake," I said and hung up abruptly.

"Why did you hang up so quickly?" my husband asked, now fully invested in my battle for justice for James.

"She had no authority. Maybe I'll call the superintendent later."

Within 24 hours, James Tate had hundreds of thousands of supporters, and people from as far away as Scotland and Ireland were emailing his school, petitioning for his cause.

And, guess what?

The school administrators reversed their decision. The school's headmaster suggested that the international circus surrounding her unpopular decision to ban the teen from the prom interrupted the educational mission of the school, and therefore, she would reevaluate Mr. Tate's punishment. She did not acknowledge that she made a mistake.

But here's the bottom line: every email, phone call, television segment and supportive voice helped right a wrong. Maybe one teen boy's plight to get to prom is the most inconsequential injustice in the world that you can imagine, but it's the principle that matters.

If you have a voice, use it.

Power to the People!

And, James Tate for Prom King!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mommy? Mom-my, Mommy!

"Is that your favorite word?" I ask my two year old son.
He giggles in the backseat, sucking his thumb and fuzzing his monkey's ears nearly off, so that Mr. Monkey now resembles a bat.
"You're singing that 'Mommy song' AGAIN?"
"Yeah," he sighs.
"You just want to tell me how much you love me, right?"

We sit side by side on the sofa and he leans into me, snuggling up close. I feel his hand tap on mine, his monkey bouncing gently on my cheek. "Monkey's daaancing," he says, with an English accent on the word "dancing." "Monkey's happy."

I kiss his still chubby cheeks hundreds of times a day. "You're just the best little boy, you know that?" He sighs. "How much does Mommy love you?"

"To da moon and back!" he yells.

I want to tell him how charming he is, how much he makes me laugh, how proud I am of him, how much he has made me a better person, what joy he has brought to the world, what magic he posses and passes out like candy.

I can't wait to celebrate Mother's Day with him, but then again, we celebrate that day every single day of the year. I want to thank him for that.

I want him to know that he brings the color, charisma, and yes, the choas to life. He is the exclamation point, the hope, the innocence, the adventure, the most beautiful vista, the heart and the soul.

Of all the things that I have helped create or will create in life, he is, by far, the best.