Wednesday 29 February 2012

Eve of Change

The title of this blog entry assumes a change will be coming tomorrow.  To be fair, I have no idea.  We could come home with nothing changed.

Tomorrow we take Alex to a developmental pediatrician/psychologist to talk about whether or not medication might help his behaviour issues.

I’m not a fan of medication.  I think we reach for pills far too quickly to mask symptoms rather than deal with problems.  However, there are some problems which are solved much more easily with a little chemical assistance.  If you are incapacitated by anxiety, a pharmaceutical soother can give you the mental breathing space to get your life back under control.  Without it, you’re fighting a losing battle.

We’ve tried for years to deal with Alex’s aggression and self-injury with behavioural methods.  We reduced the incidents but couldn’t eliminate them.  That tells me there’s something underlying which we haven’t been able to target behaviourally.  We’ve consulted experts and no one has been able to come up with anything new.  I believe we’ve hit the end of what can be done with behavioural intervention.

That leaves medication as the final option.  I worry about side effects but I worry a lot more about Alex’s future if we can’t overcome these issues.  It’s unfortunate, but we’re running out of good choices for him.

I won’t let my prejudices stand in the way of getting him the help he needs.  The harder part is reconciling myself to the realization that even if the doctor prescribes something (which isn’t certain), it may not have any effect.  I’ve been down that road with anti-depressants.  I’ve tried a half dozen different kinds and none of them have been effective.  Some had horrible side effects and I stuck with every single one for at least two months, but no significant effect.  It’s frustrating.  For all that I don’t like medication, I always saw it there as a safety net.

There are no guarantees.  We’ll talk with the doctor and see what she says.  Then we’ll have to make our choices on how to proceed.  It would be convenient if we could look into the future and see the results but we’ll have to go on the same blind bumbling faith we always have.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Old Fashioned Romance

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was rereading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I was also reading the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery.  Leaving aside that both these series are written for young adults, the portrayal of the relationships in them is significantly different from the modern romance.  There is no love at first sight.  Instead, friendship and compatibility grow and become love.

Anne and Gilbert may be a fictional couple, but Laura and Almanzo were real.  They were married for over sixty years until his death.  From the Little House books, Laura is portrayed as almost asexual.  She doesn’t speak about any physical attraction she has to her future husband.  She doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about marriage.  Her first loyalty is always to her birth family.

Some of that may be cultural.  It wasn’t considered proper for young ladies to acknowledge the physical side of their natures.  But according to the biography I read, Laura said her marriage was based on affection and compatible goals.  She chose her husband according to who she thought she could live with for an extended period.

This is all second hand information, of course.  But it makes you think.  In today’s romance driven culture, half of all marriages fail.  We all know that the wild hormone-driven roses and wine portion of a relationship has a distinct shelf-life.  Humans adapt quickly and after awhile, we adapt to being in love and it isn’t the natural high it once was.  “We can finish each other’s sentences” becomes “Stop interrupting me!” 

Maybe there’s something to the more low key approach.  Some psychologists have said that high levels of chemistry almost always predict a dysfunction.  We are naturally attracted to things which remind us of the destructive patterns of our past.  (Or maybe the high levels of chemistry blind us to warning signs.)  We all know people who seem to constantly fall in love with the wrong person.

It’s an interesting point to think on.  There is definite merit to making sure a relationship has strong compatibility elements if you want it to last past your second anniversary.  Mutual goals and ideals about life make matters smoother.

But it’s not nearly as exciting as the other option.

Monday 27 February 2012

Vacation Update

Just back from a lovely vacation weekend in Montreal.  The goal was to relax, watch some TV and let someone else handle the cooking and cleaning.  Some people prefer to have an active vacation with lots of plans and new sights but when I do that, I always come home feeling like I need another vacation.

Three nights of being able to sleep right through until I naturally woke up, that’s the height of luxury these days.  It’s the first time in months I haven’t been woken up in the middle of the night to deal with some minor crisis.  I even took some naps if I felt sleepy in the morning or afternoon.  I may have managed to catch up on my sleep deficit.

I did some research on my next novel, reading through some books on burlesque and famous burlesque performers.  It turns out Montreal has a very active burlesque community, so I may go back as I get further along to do some real world research.  I think there’s a very natural tie between burlesque and romance.  Both celebrate women and sexuality.

As a treat, I also bought a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I was rereading the Little House books last week and I’ve always wondered what happened to her after she married Almanzo.  I was a little disappointed to discover the Little House books were somewhat fictionalized, although I suppose it’s understandable.  Especially since they were written nearly forty years after the fact.  The relationship between her and her daughter Rose was very interesting.  They seem to have clashed constantly but still were enmeshed.  Wonder what Dr. Phil would have said to them?

We had some delicious (if expensive) food through room service.  When indulging, go ahead and indulge thoroughly.  I love a hot breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, hash browns and fruit, so I got one every morning and it kept me satisfied through most of the day.  We were also naughty and snuck some fruit of our own into the room as a healthy snack.

There were some challenges.  We started out in the middle of one of the most intense snowfalls the city has seen this winter.  Over an hour and a half just to get across the city.  (For reference, usually a half hour trip.)  Part of the delay was because one of our windshield wipers fell off while we were in stop and go traffic on the highway.  It was slow enough that Dave could stop the car, get out and go back to grab the wiper off the ground without holding anything up.  Luckily, we were near an exit so we got off and were hoping we could just pop the thing back on.

No such luck.  It was broken, so Dave walked to a gas station to buy a replacement.  They only had summer wipers and the wrong size, but it was enough to get us to a Canadian Tire.  After that, we were on our way but it was slow going.  It took us five hours to make a drive which usually takes less than two.  But that was the worst of it.

Overall, I enjoyed myself.  I still find I get tense when in a social situation where I don’t know what’s expected of me.  And I’m definitely not used to white linen service.  But the vast majority of the time we were on our own without any schedule or agenda driving us.  And that was just about perfect.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Cracking the Whip on Censorship

There has been some chatter among writers about PayPal and Amazon’s new decision to crack down on obscene materials.  There is concern that legitimate erotica will be targeted along with erotic fiction involving pedophiles, incest, beastiality, rape, etc.  The guidelines are very vague and open to broad interpretations.  Things have been moving very swiftly and legitimate authors haven’t been given a lot of time to adapt or appeal decisions.  There is further concern that this decision with disproportionally target independent, small and self-published works, since the major publishing houses will have alternatives and lawyers.

The following statement may make me very unpopular with my fellow writers.  I support censorship of erotic material designed to appeal to pedophiles, rapists, etc.  I realize there are arguments about the fiction being an outlet, preventing action.  I also realize that censorship drives the fiction underground rather than eliminating it.

This is how I see it: the easier it is to get, the more susceptible people will get it.  Erotic fiction works best when it’s new.  Thus those people keep going for more and eventually words on a page aren’t enough and they go further.  So I’m in favour of getting rid of it.  It’s simple.  The actions described are illegal, therefore it’s a very clear guideline to use.

I’m not in favour of censoring erotica that deals with legitimate actions between consenting adults.  (We can deal with the parochial ignorance of those areas which still outlaw homosexuality in another post.)  I don’t have to like or approve of every sexual adventure.  If I don’t like it, I won’t buy it or read it.  Simple enough. 

I am concerned by how swiftly this crackdown is being enforced and worried about the vagueness of the guidelines.  I’m worried this will turn into a morality exercise or a witchhunt.  I’m worried it will unfairly target those without the resources to fight back.

But child abuse is not something I accept risks on.  Children deserve our protection and those who abuse them should be hunted down with every resource we can bring to bear.  (We have to be careful not to taint those who are innocent while still being vigilant to track down the guilty.)  The other specific references are disgusting, disturbing and I believe an argument can be made in favour of censoring them as well.

I also want to distinguish between erotic fiction and other fiction.  I have books where women and men have been raped or other bad things have happened to them as part of the story.  But the scenes are not designed to titillate.  I believe that those stories can be useful in helping those who have been victimized and help those who haven’t to understand the terror and difficulties which can result. 

Saturday 25 February 2012

Line Break or No Line Break

I’ve been working with a critique group to get my novel ready for submission.  One of the suggestions was to eliminate the line break between switches of point of view within the same scene.

Now, this is something which annoys me when I’m reading.  I’m a fast reader and I often manage to miss the change of POV and become confused when something doesn’t make sense.  Then I have to backtrack and reread.

But I’m also a novice writer and very conscious of my lack of knowledge of professional standards.  I’ve already been caught in one very embarrassing systematic punctuation error (not using a comma before an endquote when the sentence continues past the quote: “Excellent,” he said.).  Thus, not feeling entirely confident in my evaluation of the situation.

So I did what any self-respecting geek does when confronted with a dilemma.  I hit the books.  I went through four or five of my favourites and confirmed that yes, there was a line break between POV changes.  I tried to be diplomatic and respectful when resubmitting but I can’t help feeling uneasy about not taking all their suggestions (especially since the suggestions have all been pretty good so far).

If this was an editor, there would be no question.  Do what the editor wants unless you have a really pressing reason why it shouldn’t be.  On the other hand, the last thing I want is for an editor or agent to dismiss what I have because of technical errors.

To further stir my emotional stew, I was rereading Anne of Green Gables which is full of POV changes and not a dang one of them has a line break.  Now my uncertainty is really growing.  My main concern is that I may have offended someone who has been very gracious and helpful and whom I respect a great deal.  Ack!

Hopefully I haven’t.  And if I have, hopefully, I can repair it.  Compassion, respect and honour will generally get you through pretty much any error in judgment. 

Friday 24 February 2012

Musical Moral Ambiguity

Here’s my confession: I might be one of the last people on the planet who habitually pays for all the music I listen to.  I’m not comfortable with downloading the free stuff, especially since I’m looking to break into the creative arts as a writer.  I’d be annoyed if someone made a PDF of my novel and sent it around to their friends.

But it has put me in a quandary when I don’t want to support something a musician has done.  I like Chris Brown’s song “Forever” but when it came out, he had just beaten up his girlfriend, Rhianna.  I didn’t feel comfortable buying it, it felt like I was somehow condoning his actions.  (My husband thinks I’m overly morally particular when it comes to this, for the record.)  But it was only one song and, while I liked it, I was okay with living without it.

My big moral quandary has come with Michael Jackson.  I owned cassettes when I was a kid and while I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan, I did enjoy the music.  But then the whole child abuse scandal broke and he went into creative hibernation.  I was upset enough that I stopped listening to the cassettes and didn’t replace them with CDs when I was updating my collection.  I noticed that radio stations stopped playing his songs (except for Thriller on Hallowe’en).  It made me feel like I was making the right decision.

Then he died and it was as if everything bad went to his grave with him.  Granted, the one trial returned a verdict of not-guilty, but it wasn’t a universal acquittal.  Now his music is everywhere again and everyone seems to be proud to be fans again.  He even got to be the featured performer on Glee.

It’s put me in a difficult position.  (Like my husband, you may think I’m making too big a deal out of this but this is honestly how I feel.)  I am being reminded of how much I liked his music.  But I am still deeply uncomfortable with the allegations.  Granted, nothing was ever proved in court but I think even the best possible interpretation shows a man who was unaware of the inappropriateness of his conduct and in serious need of a reality check.  I also have some misgivings about the relentless promotion his family has pursued after his death.  It smacks of exploitation to me and I don’t want to support exploitation.

And yet, I’m not inviting Michael Jackson or his family to become friends.  If I buy the music, I’m paying an artist for a creation which spoke to me.  It’s a simple business transaction.

Ironically, I don’t support the idea of celebrities having to be perfect role models.  It’s too high a standard and one they inevitably fail.  If an actor cheats on his wife, I don’t have a problem going to see a movie he filmed.  It’s an issue between him and his wife and not my concern.  But there are some things which do cross the boundary lines.  Child abuse would be right at the top of that list.

I’ll have to make a decision eventually.  To make things more difficult, I went and peeked at the tracks for the most recent “best of” collection.  I was hoping I wouldn’t like most of it, making it easier to walk away.  Instead, out of almost forty tracks, there are only three I’m not fond of.

Thursday 23 February 2012

An Unexploited Wiggly Merchandise Window

My children love the Wiggles and I have to admit that I like them, too.  The music is well written and doesn’t irritate on the third repetition.  The Wiggles themselves are all enthusiastic and walk the line between childlike enthusiasm and silliness.  I recommend them to parents of preschool children.  It’s especially nice to have male role models, since the majority of children’s performers and professionals are female.

You’ve also got to admire their business sense.  They bought the rights for their name and image back from Disney and earn millions of dollars every year through their business.  There’s a ton of Wiggles merchandise available to separate the parent from their money.  I’m told that in Australia, it reaches George Lucas saturation levels.

But as I was watching and dancing at my children’s request, it occurred to me that the Wiggles have missed a potentially lucrative option.  (Or maybe they haven’t and I just haven’t seen it.)  The Wiggly Cardio Workout.

Most of their songs have simple but high-energy choreography.  I was trying to dance along with Get Ready to Wiggle and had to give up halfway through.  A set of between five and ten songs would certainly make a great workout.  And it’s one you could do along with your kids.  I’ve been trying to be better about being active and providing an active role model for the boys, maybe this is a way to do it.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Historical Revelation

I’ve always maintained I’m not a big fan of the historical romance novel and its true that I don’t have any particular recommendations in that field.  (I’ll also admit I haven’t exactly torn apart my local bookstore looking for them.)  But I was glancing over some of the titles in my collection and had a minor revelation.  Maybe I’m just not interested in the historical periods most writers are choosing: ie Regency London or Victorian England, etc.

Because I do like historical novels and I used to devour them when I was a kid.  The Little House on the Prairie series (both novels and the TV show), Anne of Green Gables (novels and movies), Gone With the Wind, Little Women … I could keep going but I think you get the point.  I’ll even admit that I liked Dr. Quinn while it was on (and watched it in reruns).  I also have a well worn copy of Dances With Wolves and have seriously considered tracking down the novel it was based on.

Of course, all of these books have something in common.  They are all set in North America between the end of the Civil War and 1900.  I think I may have found the historical period which works for me.  There’s huge “scope for the imagination” as Miss Anne would say.  There’s the expanding Western frontier ranging from homesteads to Indian territory to the tradition Western town settings.  There’s the “civilized” settled territory of the Eastern seaboard.  Not to mention enough drama to make any author drool in the fresh wounds of the Civil War, the beginnings of the suffragette movement and the Emancipation and Reconstruction.  It’s good stuff.

I’d have to start doing some serious research before I got into any plot commitments.  Right now I’ve got enough projects on the go.  But it’s nice to have identified something which inspires and works for me.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Sneak Attack on the Food Front

My oldest son has oral sensitivities and mostly eats pureed food.  We’ve been holding back on introducing new foods since he’s been having a lot of behaviour problems already.  No sense in pushing things beyond the intolerable.

However, I had an idea.  We’ve been trying to think of a way to get him eating regular breakfast cereal as opposed to the baby oatmeal.  But we can’t mess with his breakfast without setting him up for a very bad day at school.  However, he has been asking for a small bowl of oatmeal at night for dessert.

I took five Special K flakes and put them in his oatmeal.  I chose small ones and waited to see what would happen.

He detected them with an accuracy that Scud missile targeters can only dream of.  Every last one, no matter how tiny, spit onto the table.

Since then, he’s been wary about trying any cereal, so I may have pushed things too far.  I still think its an idea worth pursuing, although maybe I’ll try the gentler method of weaning him onto adult oatmeal instead.

Monday 20 February 2012

Definite Signs of Spring

This is usually the time of year where I grit my teeth and remind myself that Hollywood is wrong and Canada does not have winter 365 days a year.  We’re usually dealing with temperatures well below zero and double digit windchill factors.  I don’t like the cold and I really don’t like the way winter saps all the colour out of everything.  Everything goes shades of gray.  The roads turn white-gray from salt, the buildings are pollution-tainted gray concrete, the sky is full of horizon stretching gray clouds and, of course, the snow blankets everything else.

I mentioned I’m not a fan of winter?

Sometimes we get a thaw (which seems like a big tease) since the temperatures never actually get much above zero.  It lasts just long enough to ruin the winter festivals and then we sink back down into the deep freeze.

But this year, it looks like our thaw might actually be an early spring.  I’ve seen little songbirds in the trees, Canada geese flying in the sky and the river’s ice is looking very thin.  Not to mention the most important and scientific sign: our local groundhog did not see his shadow on the second.

Maybe winter is going to surrender gracefully this year and leave before wearing out its welcome.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Writer vs Author

I am a writer.  That means I like to write and do it on a semi-regular basis.  What I want is to be an author, which is where someone pays you to write.

I was reading an article which said that every writer deserved to be paid for their work.  Semantics aside, to me, that is the key point which distinguishes between a good writer and a bad one.  Not every writer deserves to be paid.  The bad poetry and stilted stories out there have all been written by writers.  Just not good ones. 
If you love to write and want to share, then I encourage you to do so.  Put it online, pass it around to family and friends, however you want to do it.  That’s the easy way.

If you want to be an author, then you have to do a lot more work.  Not only do you have to write something other people want to read, but it has to be something other people are willing to pay to read.  That means doing serious thinking about plot, structure and character.  It means revising and revising again.  And again.  It means sending your brave little creation off to strangers who are going to rip it apart.  And then you put it back together again, making it better.  And then, you might be ready to send it to a publisher or agent.

It’s not all tapping at the keyboard and having brilliant dialogue and characters dance at your fingertips.  It’s a lot of hard work.  How much, I’m only just discovering.

But you know what?  I’m really enjoying watching my story get better.  It was good before but now it’s getting polished and faceted.  If I’ve done it right, it’s going to sparkle and shine, drawing people into a world I created.  Hopefully they’ll have a good time and want to come back.

At the brunch, one of the writers talked about how no one can say no to you.  If traditional publishing doesn’t work, you can self-publish and still put your story out there.  So, I suppose people can say no, they just can’t stop you.  But even with self-publishing, I think it’s important to go through the steps of polishing the work.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Bed Wars: Alex 5, Duct Tape 0

It’s official.  My son is stronger than duct tape.  He’s ripping through in less than twenty minutes now which means patches don’t last long enough to let him fall asleep.  Not to mention it means we can’t put him in his room for a time-out without him destroying the mattress.  He’s going after the plastic undersheet so that he can rip it into tiny pieces. 

We’re shifting to a whole new approach.  Rather than trying to protect the mattress from bed-wetting, I’m getting something I can wash relatively easily.  A king sized duvet.  Or rather, three of them, which should let us rotate them through.  I’ve folded it over three times for the maximum amount of padding.

Unfortunately, it’s still pretty darn thin.  I’ve tucked a camping mattress which is about an inch and a half thick underneath.  We’ll see if he ends up destroying the mattress but there’s still not a lot between him and the bed.  And I have to figure out how to protect the nicely absorbent chip-board, too.  I’m thinking of shellacking it.

You can’t ever give up.  We’re still trying to find larger diapers but the ones designed to deal with bed-wetting are more for leakage than floods.  There are adult medical incontinence diapers (which are expensive) but the smalls are too big for him.  I’m still taking him to the toilet before I go to bed and we’ve had some small successes with that.

What’s frustrating is that we’re off the parenting map.  Even the autism parenting map since even most autistic children are toilet trained when they’re younger than Alex.  There isn’t a guidebook on how to deal with this.  The parents who can’t toilet train their children (and it is a not-insignificant percentage) are left on their own to figure out how to manage their child as he or she grows.

Alex has the skills to do this.  He’s just not motivated.  Shame doesn’t work since he’s not particularly socially conscious.  And the accidents don’t bother him.  All we can do is keep trying to encourage him and hope he eventually gets it.

Friday 17 February 2012

What Makes Evil?

I’ve been spending some time thinking about what makes someone evil.  Not just an ignorant, insensitive person but someone who is capable of causing deliberate pain to another person.  I’d also separate between those whose goal is to cause pain and those who are following along with a dominant personality.  The followers don’t get a free pass in my book, but if they had found someone else to follow, they could have become devoted stamp collectors or something else harmless.  They are attracted to the psychopath’s charisma, confidence and apparent power, not necessarily the violence.  Their willingness to venture down the dark path and inability to stand up for their own values makes them dangerous but I don’t know whether they would take the first steps on their own.

But I’m talking about something else.  The psychopaths of the world.  There’s some evidence that not all psychopaths are violent but all of them see people as objects to use as needed.  Often they believe the end justifies the means.  They also tend to believe that everyone sees the world the same way, which means they inhabit a terrifying world where no one can be trusted or relied on and you have to be constantly on guard against attack.

I’ve been reading some of Dr. Perry’s work on empathy and it’s been quite interesting.  In one chapter of his book Born to Love, he gives us the case study of a wealthy, privileged boy who convinced his friends to gang rape a developmentally delayed girl in their school.  When caught, he honestly appeared to believe the whole thing amounted to a prank and told the police that the girl should be grateful since she was never going to have anyone better than him touch her.  Needless to say, quite frightening and sickening.  And, I have to say, frustrating.

Here is someone with every advantage our world has to offer and he uses his status as a weapon against others, threatening and intimidating with his perceived position.  He displays no compassion or respect for authority.  Now, Dr. Perry goes into his early infancy and suggests that some of the boy’s lack of empathy came from a revolving door round of short-term nannies.  The nannies never had time to learn the boy’s cries and needs before they were replaced, thus teaching him that no one cared about him and his needs would never be met unless he took care of them himself.

It’s an interesting theory but I think there are some people out there who were just born wrong and twisted. 

There’s another scientific study which makes more sense to me.  The doctor has studied psychopaths and career criminals extensively and he found a certain MRI pattern of low activity in impulse control to be common among them.  But he found other people who weren’t criminals (including himself) had similar scans.  He also discovered he had a fair number of serial killers and murderers in his family tree.

He describes his theory with this metaphor: genetics load the gun, creating a predisposition; environment removes the safety, explaining the almost universal experience of neglect and abuse for psychopaths; and the individual chooses the target, in effect, pulling the trigger.  He doesn’t believe his theory absolves these people of their actions but rather sees it as a way to create programs which would prevent them from becoming psychopaths in the first place.

I don’t buy into “genes made me do it” or “culture made me do it” as a reason to let someone go after they’ve committed a violent crime.  If you weren’t in control (blame God, genes, the devil, patriarchy, whoever you want), then clearly you need to be locked up because you can’t guarantee it won’t happen again.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Morning Ugh and A Pollyanna Moment

Got up this morning to start the first loads of laundry and discovered something about the last load from last night.  A diaper ended up in the washing machine and of course it broke apart and left nasty little gel-crystals all through the wash.  These things are awful to clean up, if you haven’t had the pleasure.  They cling to everything.  If you try to clean them off with a towel, they squish.  The only way to get them off is running water.

So I spent an hour this morning carefully rinsing off every piece of clothing and bedding from that load in the shower.  I know I didn’t get them all but I’m hoping I got the majority.  And I’ll run them through separate loads today.  Which means instead of my usual two or three loads of laundry, I have six.  And that’s assuming I don’t have to re-run any of them.   It’s going to be a long day of running back and forth to the washer. 

That’s the unpleasant part.

But as I was doing this, I had a little positive thought.  This would be an absolute disaster if I was still working.  I would be going to work tonight and lose eight hours of time I could use.  Not to mention trying to get everything else done which I have to do today.

Instead of a disaster, this is unpleasant and inconvenient.  Nothing worse than that.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A Great Tragedy

I was catching up on last week’s Dr. Phil and he had a very upsetting story last Friday.  A few years ago, he had a family on whose daughter had disappeared.  The parents suspected her husband had killed her.  There were two young children (3 and 5) and there was a suspicion that the children may have actually seen the father kill their mother.

Last Friday, there was a horrible update.  No further information on what had happened to the wife had come to light.  The husband had lost his final custody battle but was still permitted supervised visitation.  The children ran into the house but he slammed the door on the social worker.  She called the police and before she could even finish explaining what had happened, the house exploded into flames.  The husband and children died.

That would be horrific enough but it gets worse.  There is evidence the children were attacked with an axe before the house burned.  But their cause of death was smoke inhalation.

It is terrifying and saddening to realize how those boys must have died.  My heart goes out to the social worker.  Reports say she is traumatized and devastated and I don’t blame her one bit for what happened.

There was an X-files episode which spoke about Starlight children.  I have no idea if this is a concept they made up or one they borrowed from somewhere but the basic idea is that some divine force collects children who are about to be horribly killed just before it can happen.  In the show, they were taken bodily.  I like the idea of a divine force who collects the souls of children before the worst can happen to them.  Just takes them away, leaving their bodies behind, so they don’t have to experience it.  I hope it’s real because no one deserves to die that way.

As for the father, I have a different hope.  Some people who have had near death experiences have actually described something far closer to Hell than Heaven.  And one of the descriptions talks about experiencing all the pain you’ve ever caused in your lifetime.  Another common description of Hell is that you have to go through loops of impossible tasks or tortures until you’ve learned your lesson.

I’m not a particularly enlightened, forgive everyone kind of person.  I hope that the father is suffering all the pain and horror that he caused.  I hope he is trapped in some kind of loop where he is bleeding and struggling to breathe, terrified and betrayed.  I hope that there is justice for his family in the afterlife because we failed in this one.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.  Nothing can ever make what happened okay but I hope they can find some kind of peace in their lives.