God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Innocence Stolen

Today is serious. It is for parents and grandparents and all who have young children enriching their lives. I write and share as a means of warning each of you to remain vigilant at all times.

Our little ones are such vulnerable creatures and in just a moment can have their precious, sweet minds assaulted and maimed. It happens with such ease even when we believe that we cushion and hedge them within walls of protection. They are growing up in a “virtual” world that is beyond that which even the young parents experienced—let alone the one that this gramma-mom (Casey’s newest term) knew.

Last week when we were visiting treasured friends on the lovely North Shore of Oahu, friend Ann asked if I worried about Casey using the computer. I said that at this point I didn’t as he isn’t on it often and then basically only to use the computer functions rather than the internet—except when we are doing his blog entries. Since our computers are in common rooms—my office and the family room—I am aware when he is on it and pay attention to what he is doing. He has neither a computer nor a TV in his room, much to his dismay. We even shamefully deprive him of his own cell phone.

So, I was surprised to receive a difficult call from friend Ann telling me that Casey had accessed pornographic websites on her computer. I was stunned, dismayed and, the more I learned, heartbroken to know that his precious, sweet mind had been so corrupted. Corrupted by a power over which he was rather powerless.

As it turns out, his intentions were somewhat predictably normal for a 9 year old boy’s mind—maybe not what we want them to be, but normal. He had put in a search about naked ladies. Now, I remember as a young girl, being fascinated by bare-breasted women in the National Geographic. Later generations would take quick peeks at the shocking Playboy covers. Bodies are interesting and mysterious to children.

But—the big but—today is different, scarier and dangerous. Having no idea what he was getting into, Casey entered the ugly, staggeringly evil world of grotesque pornography. Fortunately, Ann told us and so we have been able to talk with him, dry his tears and comfort the shame he felt—and then we cried and prayed that God would erase the harm.

I write this not to make Casey public but to tell people to be super vigilant and always aware—it is easy to become complacent when we know the goodness of our children and thus forget that they are just that—children, with inquiring minds and an abundance of curiosity in a world that is not child-friendly.

What are we going to do? Right now we will limit his internet access to the AOL Kid program where we control what is available and allowed. When he needs to do more extensive research for school assignments, we will do it in tandem—which has already been our practice. I would like to say that I am confident that he has “learned a lesson”—I believe that he has but I also wonder if now that the curiosity has been fed, there will be temptation. I pray each night that this fear is groundless and that God will surround Casey with a shield of protection and an abhorrence of what he has learned is out there. I want his innocence to return for a few more years.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Time for the Important

I've been gone for a while--to a place where blogs, e-mail, Italy and Other Stuff were put aside.

It was time for just Casey.

Next week will be time for all the other stuff.

Ci Vediamo

Friday, March 07, 2008

God Is Awesome

If you read my blog, you know that sometimes I write of my belief in God and my conviction of the truth of His message and His Word, the Bible. Because of this, I believe there are times when we are made aware of supernatural intervention in the expected course of events—sometimes major ones and sometimes not so significant. Today I am certain that I experienced such intervention in a personally major way; although, in the course of world events it was rather insignificant.

I was astonishingly careless and am now fortunate that my house still stands. I believe that it stands because of God’s unsurpassed power and that He gifted me.

This morning, in an attempt to be efficient and because chicken cacciatore tastes so much better after sitting for a while, I decided to prepare tonight’s meal—not my usual approach to meal preparation, let me say. I was beginning by heating a quarter cup of olive oil—which has a comparatively low smoke point before flaming—in a sauté pan. However, about the time I turned the burner on and poured the oil into the pan, I decided that I should complete an errand before starting to cook. Casey had forgotten his lunch and, being the nurturing grandparents that Ken and I are, we decided to take it up to school. At this point, I completely forgot about the oil. We locked the door and left, leaving the burners on.

At school I found tears—from the school secretaries. We are facing an enormous budget crisis in San Diego schools and many people are receiving notices of termination. Having been a school administrator before retiring and unexpectedly resuming parenting, I have faced such crises several times and it always hurts to see good people so devastated. So—I spent time listening to and consoling the women and then commiserating with the principal about the devastating impact the budget cuts will have on the children. I had all the time in the world; my only concern being that I was sure that Ken was becoming bored waiting for me.

I knew there was a problem as soon as I walked through the door to the house. At first I wanted to think that my dirty sun glasses were causing the blur that permeated the air but I really knew that wasn’t true—all this in a 10 second understanding of what had happened. Rushing into the kitchen, through the haze I could see the heat shimmering above and encircling the stove.

I was lucky that the oil hadn’t flashed and that fire hadn’t engulfed our very open style house.

I thank God that He was in charge and allowed my carelessness to not end in the disaster it should have. I am glad that He is an awesome friend.