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May 6 2014

When The Sex Offender Looks Like a Nice Jewish Teacher

By at 10:57 am

sex-abuse-in-day-school

Last year, some little girls were sexually assaulted in my son’s 2nd grade class. He was their trusted teacher who they called “Rebbe.” He was young, had children of his own, and seemed to be the friendliest, happiest, most smiling face in town.

It is his wife I think of often. When The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” comes on the radio, I cry when the lyrics get to “I’ve lost a friend.” I cry over the shock of losing a friend in such a horrendous, disastrous way. I told her she would have a soft place to land if she chose to leave him. That is where we left it. She didn’t leave him. This is hard to take.

I cry because the danger came too close. Every conversation with my child felt like walking a tightrope, a fishing expedition for the truth, a primal need to protect him. There was no relief in discovering he wasn’t abused. But he knew just enough to testify. Our son had anger issues that took months to heal. For me, the anxiety attacks were awful. Thirty days after the initial accusation, I sat in a support group with other women, including the mothers of the victims, and I had to hold back the tears. When I got in my car afterward, I broke down. I rushed home, ran to my bedroom, and fell into a ball on the floor, unable to breathe through my shock and tears and pain and sadness. “It’s too much,” I repeated over and over again. “It’s just too much.” I found out I wasn’t the only one who broke down that night. “It’s too much” became our shared emotion. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 29 2011

The Hurricane Hoarder

By at 8:14 am

My hurricane hoard.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I’m good in crisis. When something happens all of the sudden, I stay calm, cool, and collected. (Don’t believe me? Read here about how I handled being on a cruise ship that caught on fire.)

But as it turns out, I’m not as calm, cool, or collected when I have warning of a crisis coming my way. Don’t get me wrong–I didn’t flip out or anything–but I over-prepare. Let me explain. The first warnings of Hurricane Irene coming towards New York City started on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, I was at the supermarket buying canned goods. Spaghetti-O’s, to be specific. More cans of Spaghetti-O’s than I could possibly eat. Ever.

And then I went back to the supermarket a few hours later because I forgot to buy a few things. Then I went back again on Friday afternoon. And then again on Saturday afternoon. (Oh, and I sent my husband out on Thursday night because I’d forgotten a few things.)

So as it turns out, when you take a somewhat overcautious and paranoid person and add a few messages from the Office of Emergency Management, she turns into the Hurricane Hoarder. I know, it’s ridiculous. But I felt good to know that if we did lose power, or if we did have to evacuate, I was prepared. And I feel incredibly blessed that not only were we safe, but we did not experience any flooding or power losses. I know that we were quite lucky and that many of you, including some of our regular bloggers, have been dealing with flooding and property damage. I am thinking of you.

But the positive that comes out of all of this? Many synagogues have a food drive on Yom Kippur, requesting canned goods to give to local food pantries. The concept is that as we fast for a day, we should give the food we would have eaten to those who don’t have enough to eat. I think it’s a beautiful premise, and regularly do it. This year, I’ll be making an even bigger donation (as you can see from the photo above!)

But I’m not giving up the 6 gallons of bottled water sitting in the corner of the bedroom. Those are going to stay…just in case.

Aug 3 2011

Trial By Fire

By at 10:56 am

Our cruise ship, post-fire. Yes. It was really really bad.

Sometimes being a parent feels incredibly overwhelming. The other day my daughter tripped and fell and landed on her chin, cutting her lip with her tooth. It wasn’t so bad as to need stitches, but man, that thing swelled up so fast! Trying to stay calm, get her calm, and get some ice on a 2-year-old’s lip was quite a challenge.

But when I face the tough moments of parenthood, I think back to life before I was a parent, back in the hazy days of when my husband and I first got engaged. A couple of weeks after the engagement, we took a cruise to the Caribbean. We were about three days into the cruise when, in the middle of the night, the ship alarm went off. Before we knew it, we were being told to get our lifejackets, hats, and long-sleeved shirts and report to our muster stations—this was an emergency of the highest level. Smoke was coming into the room and it was clear that the boat was on fire. My husband, being the wonderful romantic man he is, turned to me and said, “No matter what happens, I love you.” I responded, “Turn around and get the f*@% out of here!” (Yes, the boat was on fire. Luckily, we were fine and all of our belongings were fine. Others weren’t so lucky.)

What you’ll notice from this story is that I’m good in a crisis. (When we got home and I told my friends what happened, they universally said that if they had to pick anyone to be with on a burning cruise ship, they’d pick me. Who knew?) I keep calm, I analyze the situation, and I work toward a solution.

I’ve learned this even more now that I’m a parent. Because when you’re a parent, there’s a crisis happening almost all of the time.

Whether it’s a scraped knee, a missing stuffed animal, or the fact that suddenly your toddler hates strawberries with a passion so strong that she throws them across the room, life with a small child can quickly shift from everything being fine to tantrum mode. So how do you deal with the crisis? Deep breaths, assess the situation, and deal with it. And if you need to swear a little bit to get it done, I approve.

Oh, and another lesson I learned from the cruise? After you’ve been in a crisis situation, offer free wine or beer at dinner. You’ll make everyone a lot happier. Including yourself.

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