The Brody Bunch Marches for Our Lives – Let the Children Lead the Way. #Enough

 

We Marched for our Lives. It is #enough

In awe, inspired, hopeful #enough.  We Marched for Our Lives in DC, yesterday.

More than 20 years ago, in response to a relative surviving a carjacking, I gave a contribution to a handgun control group. From that donation, which may have been my first political contribution, I received a pin. I wore that button in DC while standing with my children and their generation growing up and believing that school shootings are considered normal and want it to stop.  This is not normal. I can’t even identify with this burden. It is #enough. My generation couldn’t fix the issues so let the children lead the way.

Supporting the Second Amendment, Not the NRA

I support the right to bear arms.  Hunting and sport and the right to protect oneself is important to me.  Yet it is unfathomable that children are dying and a political lobbying group is controlling the United States of America’s President, Senators and Congressmen. It is time to #VoteThemOut.  We boarded buses from Baltimore to DC for the March for our Lives.

Change is Here

Upon exiting the bus in DC, we were in a mix of students and families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They were strongly represented.  A classic Bob Marley song was blaring in the streets. We were part of something really big. Change is here.

I was completely inspired by the crowd size, the excitement in the air, the kindness of the large security presence.  The sun was shining on us. The Cherry Blossoms are blooming… and the movement by the kids is in full bloom. I am proud to follow their lead because my generation has failed.

Speeches by Parkland and Sandy Hook survivors, Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter and others were inspiring, heartbreaking and courageous.  Yet, all of their experiences should have never happened. I was overwhelmed with emotions when we saw the children from Sandy Hook, they have grown so much over the years.  For me, the Sandy Hook massacre is still raw. The children of Sandy Hook were the same ages of my own children. My husband and I had the luxury of raising our children in a bubble, yet the Sandy Hook tragedy forced our hands to tell our children that evil exists in the world. Through the beloved Fred Rogers, as in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, we were able to have age appropriate conversations with our young children. Thanks to Mr. Rogers we taught the kids, “always look for the helpers.”  The helpers are their teachers, police officers, firefighters, the first responders.

Music Sends Powerful Messages

There were many celebrities loved by my kids and their generation and I felt old.  Had this event been held when it should have been 19 years ago during Columbine, Bruce Springsteen would have probably taken the stage.  I heard my kids’ favorite artists yesterday and for the first time, I really listened to the lyrics. Our kids have a lot of positive entertainers in their playlists.  Music is a wonderful way to send a powerful message.

Like many, I was incredibly moved by Ben Platt from Dear Evan Hansen and Lin-Manuel Miranda from Hamilton when they took the stage to perform “Found Tonight” which honors the Parkland High School survivors and their work for the March for our Lives. Just last Saturday, my daughter and I were on Broadway seeing Dear Evan Hansen.  Last week, we were filled with raw emotions because of the strong messages from the show. Yesterday, my daughter and I stood together and tears rolled down my face again, because of the urgent need to march on Washington, hearing new powerful lyrics:  

And when our children tell their story ….

They’ll tell the story of tonight….

Raise a glass to all of us/

Tomorrow there’ll be more of us

Telling the story of tonight.

The Kids are the Leaders

There were no politicians on the stage.  We were listening to kids. They made us cry. They made us cheer. They made us laugh. They made the world stop and see that changes are coming and change is here. Several students appeared to be testing the waters for future political campaigns. This one issue, sensible gun control, which is one of my non-negotiable issues when voting, I am ready for these kids to lead the fight all the way. #VoteThemOut and #VoteThemIn

The United States Capitol, “Thank You for Marching”

We had a long walk back to our buses, one with a Parkland School survivor.  As we walked though SE Washington, I noticed the sun shining down on the Capitol.  This iconic building houses our “leaders” who are in bed with the National Rifle Association. The NRA controls our legislators while our children are executed, this is not what our forefathers imagined when writing the Second Amendment.  

As we walked by several homes, we saw signage in front yards including tributes from Martin Luther King, Jr and a sign “Thank you for Marching.” To the children I say, “Thank you for Leading.” I am inspired to #VoteThemOut because it is #enough.

Brody Bunch – Gift Memories over Materialist Gifts

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Taylor Trensch, star of Dear Evan Hansen signed our Playbills, that is a memory!

Creating Memories Over Acquiring More Stuff

“Experiences over material items” that is the Brody Bunch parenting mantra.  I am sick and tired of putting away things that no one really wants or enjoys.  My generation, Generation X, could die from clearing out the things that our Baby Boomer parents thought we might like one day in addition to all of the things we bought when we had first jobs and the economy was great.  So, to limit the clutter for our kids, we have set out to make memories rather than buying another trinket. We haven’t mastered this, but sometimes we get it right.

An Experience To Celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

In celebration of our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, we gave her the choice of many experiences rather than buying an expensive gift.  She is an aspiring actress and singer. Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen was on the top of her list, it was the only thing on her list. With her Bat Mitzvah 7 months behind us, we finally fulfilled her wish.  Tickets didn’t come easy.  And, we were able to pad the show with additional opportunities for more memories. Maybe I was the one receiving the gift, because, just the two of us went on her getaway and I treasured every moment.  I never knew what time it was. She was the perfect traveling partner. She was flexible when plans changed. She has my stamina. She had gratitude for each offering. She laughed at my jokes.

The Agenda, The Journey, The Magic

We went to New York for two full days.  Our journey included the St. Patrick’s Day parade, long walks in Central Park and the West Village.  We had lobster in the Chelsea Market. We did a photo shoot on the High Line. We sang, shimmied, and twisted at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway.  We ate dinner in an outside heated bar vestibule. When Siri got us really lost, we drank coffee at a Greek diner. We bought new political buttons to wear on our hats for the upcoming March on Washington to fight gun violence in schools.  Some of these buttons were purchased from the same store where we bought our “Vagina Badge of Honor” patches for last year’s Women’s March.

We shared many laughs, like at the parade, someone’s flag brushed me several times and I pulled on it to tell the flag waver that I couldn’t see.  My daughter gasped and giggled, “Mom, you can’t yank someone’s flag.”  When referencing St. Paddy’s day “pot of gold” I stated that because of the local aroma, that the pot of gold is “just pot”. We segued the joke into meaningful conversations about drugs and alcohol.  No one likes these chats, but we have to have them. For good measure, I threw in questions about sex, too. Thanks Parade revelers!

Instead of dining at our favorite restaurant in Little Italy, we found a wonderful bar. We met the owner [female owned] and spoke with everyone near us. We were in a New York State of Mind. And, when my daughter and I were in the bathroom, she told me that we didn’t have time for me to make anymore best friends because we had to get to the theater.  I like doing things until the last minute, to get in more memories, but I knew that she wanted to get to the show.

My other kids kept texting us, “Aren’t you excited!  Just one hour and 19 minutes before you see Dear Evan Hansen!”  and “I miss you! I hope you are having fun!” The kids not on this trip, were celebrating their sister’s excitement and were so happy for her.  Their sibling love was appreciated by her and another gift to me.  It was all magical.

Saw the show, met the lead actor, it was perfect

The show was finally here. It was beautiful and sad.  She has been singing the hits for more than a year. I had my own moments of reflection sitting next to my daughter during this powerful show. Every parent and kid can learn a lot from this incredible production.  A good hard cry was had by me. After the show, we slipped into Junior’s for cheesecake, and the post theater crowd prevented us from getting a table. We called home and said goodnight.

We could see that people were gathering around the theater.  We went back. Two strangers were smiling and pushed my daughter ahead and said, “Taylor Trensch [Evan Hansen] is signing Playbills!” My daughter got up close, I smiled, congratulated him on his performance, and told him that we were here for her Bat Mitzvah celebration. Taylor/Evan Hansen said, “Oh, happy birthday!  I hope your Torah portion went smoothly.”  Wow, glad we couldn’t get the cheesecake!  This was the icing on the cake!

The Journey Continued

After a hotel snafu whereas our paid room, with our checked in luggage, was given away, near midnight, we were put into a taxi and sent to an alternative hotel.  I was mad. I didn’t want our perfect day to end with being annoyed. I made a choice to check myself and chose to remain happy. I gave our daughter a jewelry box with a surprise charm bracelet from Dear Evan Hansen. Her bright smile rivaled that of Times Square’s lights.

The next day, we had a quick breakfast at the hotel.  I shared with my daughter lessons I learned from the show and how some topics reminded me of myself with my mom.  In the background, I could hear an old Billy Joel song and the lyric “it’s always sadness or euphoria.” That song always reminds me of my mom. More tears streamed down my face. It was like I participated in a therapeutic getaway.  We had more meaningful conversations. We were making lots of memories.  

We walked through Koreatown.  I was in accessory heaven. Just one more store!  These trinkets are “different” from the material items we were trying to avoid by making memories – so we made memories while picking up a few more brooches and bracelets. We walked through the Flatiron District. Spent time at the Strand Bookstore. Ate in a hip coffee shop blasting my favorite songs from the 70’s. We went for a long and cold walk in Central Park.  We saw ducks and signs of Spring. I find peace and happiness in Central Park. We intended to go to another diner where we could warm up, and got lost, again. So we walked for a bit and ended up in Ellen’s Stardust Diner.  We had front and center seats whereas we were part of many of the song and dance routines as innocent bystanders. We strolled back to meet our bus home and took in traditional tourist scenery in Times Square.

14 miles of laughs, lessons and “For Forever” memories

My health tracking device noted that we walked 14 miles over two days.  You can cover lots of laughs, serious conversations and historical discoveries in 14 miles. It is the City that never sleeps.  My soul is beaming with happiness. Like the song from Dear Evan Hansen we made “For Forever” memories.

The Brody Bunch participates in the National Student Walkout, and I am Proud

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My daughter’s poster for the National Student Walkout

Support the Schools -Walk Out with the Students

I am so proud that the Baltimore City public school district, administrators, teachers and students supported today’s National Student Walkout.  My own 7th grader asked me several times to attend the walkout. There was apprehension about missing classes, consequences, breaking the rules.  I declared that there would be no consequences at home for participating in a school walkout fighting this injustice.  Our school strongly embraced the need to support the students and fight to end the gun violence epidemic in our schools and made it very comfortable for students and teachers choosing not to participate in the walkout. 

At this time, it is not a matter of  IF another school shooting will happen again, it is a matter of WHERE it will happen again, and students are demanding action from legislators.  The students are rising up.  They will beat the National Rifle Association, who owns our Congress.  I support the Second Amendment, I am against assault weapons.  I am sick of being sick of school shootings.  I strongly supported today’s National Student Walkout.  During the walkout, I did not hear any political commentary surrounding the school shootings.  I learned about the 17 people killed one month ago today.  I cried for them.  This violence can happen anywhere. We have lost over 7000 children since Columbine. It is #enough.

When your kid asks you to be present, and you can, be present. I am so glad I attended the National Student Walkout, with my kids and their classmates and teachers.

At 10AM, the slated time for the National Student Walkout, the front doors to our school were held open by our Principal.  I saw my oldest son and some of his baseball teammates walkout in solidarity.  I cried.

One of my daughters found me and she hugged me.  Some other parents were on school grounds also offering their support.  Parents and teachers huddled together commenting how horrible it is that we need to do this and how proud we are of the kids. The kids will make change. My own children, and their generation, are growing up with gun violence as a “normal” occurrence, this is wrong and inhumane.  I am so proud that all four of my kids and their friends stood up for those who have been killed, and recognize that there needs to be change.  They are taking action.

Student Leaders Are Leading and Inspiring

Our student government association leaders read a tribute for each person who perished in the Parkland school shooting one month ago today and there was a moment of silence for each person.  This student run program was meaningful and important.

The 17 minute walkout ended with a student encouraging her schoolmates to March on Washington or in our own City on March 24th. I am so proud of our children for being leaders of change. 

May the children and adults who have perished in school shootings not have died in vain.  May their memories be a blessing and let the children continue to lead the way, because the adults have failed. This is more than #enough.  I stand with the students.  I walkout with the students. I march with the students. I support the students.  The students are leading the way.  I will follow their direction.  We have had #enough.

My experience ended with my daughter embracing me in the school yard.  Her sign “I am missing school because they’re missing lives” was between us.  When you are in middle school, hugging and kissing your mom in the school yard because of gun violence, it there are a lot of feelings. #enough