Everyday Heroes

I’m beginning to work on my next novel this morning as The Boy heads ‘back to school,’ which after this year’s Spring Break spent at home means at-home instruction. And J is going ‘back to work’ after taking ‘vacation’ with us at home last week, which this week means heading over to our kitchen table, now his makeshift office.

And I thought I’d set myself up to write this sequel to my novel, Storm Chasing, by talking about everyday heroes, because that’s usually who I write about when I write fiction. I don’t write about major celebrities (although, I suppose, in Opening Doors, Good Bones, Storm Chasing, and its sequel that I’m beginning serious work on this week, Umbrellas, I did write about a couple of minor celebrities). I don’t write about the super wealthy. Because frankly, I don’t think the super wealthy are all that special or heroic (but I guess in Opening Doors and Good Bones and one couple featured in Community and one in Growth, I wrote about three couples where both partners worked and they were undoubtedly financially secure…but that’s not ‘super wealthy.’)

When I wrote Storm Chasing a few years ago, I was inspired by a lifelong friend of mine who is a kindergarten teacher. And a local news personality that everyone around here seems to like. That book was cute, and extra sweet. It was Jenlyn’s Sappy Happy Ending Love Story 101. A textbook example of the stories I write; a clinic on my writing style and character development approach. It was a clear showing of (what a writer ‘friend’ referred to a long time ago as) my Disney influence. And I love Bridget and David. (I love all of my imaginary friends…that’s why I make them up. No one would know them but me if I didn’t write the stories down.)

But in reality right now, my lifelong kindergarten teacher friend is trying to teach 50 5-6 year olds how to read, write, and do basic math…REMOTELY. On videos and email (and some of them still can’t read!)

Try to imagine that.
Online learning is hard enough for my son, who is of above average intelligence, self-motivated, self-sufficient, and 12. And he has two parents at home with him alone, one full time, with no other siblings, to help him if he needs it (he doesn’t so far, but still). I can’t imagine being in a household where we both had to leave the house to go to work, or one or both of us was out of work and under financial stress or even food insecurity, and we had multiple kids in differing grades with differing assignments that had to share technology to make their assignments on time. And imagine if one of the children we had to help through online learning was a KINDERGARTENER. Who couldn’t read. Who couldn’t understand basic math facts yet…because they are still learning those skills. It’s pretty overwhelming. And I CAN clearly imagine being the teacher. A kindergarten teacher with children of her own, who are all in middle or high school (so they have a minimum of 6 online classes each to deal with), the same health and financial worry everyone else is going through, and the responsibility to teach 50 kids how to read and do basic math without being able to see them ‘get it’ or not. I know she’s incredibly stressed out, and I know she misses seeing and talking to ‘her kids.’
The Boy’s middle school teachers have said that they miss seeing and talking to ‘their kids.’
Teachers, particularly public school teachers, take a lot of flack and undue criticism in American society, and I truly don’t understand why. Maybe, like so many other negative generalizations in our country, we judge the entire group based on the worst examples. But I know a lot of teachers. My closest aunt to me was a teacher. My brother is a teacher. A whole lot of my friends growing up grew up to become teachers. And not only to they work tirelessly to educate our children (whatever you are doing now…even if it’s just reading this blog post…you couldn’t be doing it without a teacher from your past), but they really do think of OUR children as THEIR children.
So I thought I’d take a bit of time today to recognize teachers, especially public school teachers, as everyday heroes.

And then there’s David. <SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE BLOG READERS WHO HAVEN’T YET READ STORM CHASING…don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know David’s occupation…>

storm chasing

I said up there ^^^^^^ he was inspired by a local news personality from J’s and my area whom everyone likes. I’ll even go so far as to say viewers ‘adore’ him here. Really. But the character inspiration isn’t a meteorologist. He’s a local journalist who is basically an entertainer. David IS a meteorologist, and though he does try to be entertaining and likable (and succeeds), he takes his job very seriously.
Last night, here where J and I live, we had some pretty strong storms. On top of all the other shit we’re all dealing with. Right? Enough piling it on. Sigh.
And last weekend, we had strong storms as well, even including a tornado warning we all had to shuffle to the basement for right at our normal bedtime (don’t worry…we’re obviously all okay).
And we depend on those local meteorologists to still go into work and monitor severe weather for us now, when everyone else gets to stay home. The first thing we do when we hear the storms raging outside, or see the sky get dark, or hear weather sirens sound or a weather alert go off on our phone is, ‘Turn on Channel <X>.’ Because we want to be consummately informed and frankly comforted by our local news staff, particularly the meteorologist.
Journalists and scientists are also everyday heroes that take a lot of shit in current American society, and I don’t understand why. Because sometimes they tell us things we don’t want to hear? We think they’re all biased? I don’t know. Again, I’m sure some of them are terrible. I could even offer examples of terrible ‘journalists.’ But we depend on them to inform us when things are bad and scary, how to be safe. Journalists and scientists study and sometimes go out into dangerous situations to report on them and give us tools to stay healthy and safe and solve problems. And meteorologists are journalists AND scientists. Similar to public health officials. We depend on them to keep us safe when we are in immediate danger, like we are (hopefully) all listening to CDC and WHO guidelines on how to best protect ourselves and front-line healthcare staff and other essential workers like sanitation, delivery, stocking/warehouse, and grocery store and food production, distribution, and preparation staff from COVID 19. And we (hopefully) listen to local meteorologists when they tell us to take cover in strong storms, or stay off the roads after huge snows/icy conditions.
So maybe we should trust those same everyday heroes when they talk about the importance of immunizations, and the need for more affordable and efficient healthcare systems, and maybe we should trust them on climate change.

Think about all the people you depend on to keep you safe and help you solve problems. Maybe you’re taking some of those everyday heroes for granted.
I know I’m guilty of taking everyday heroes in my life for granted in the past, and I try very consciously to NOT do that now. That’s why I try to write about everyday heroes in my love stories, and I try to do things to recognize them and thank them ALL the time, and that recognition and respect includes trusting their expertise and hard work, not just when I’m in immediate danger.

Stay home if you possibly can.
Wash your hands.
Help somebody if you can.
Thank an everyday hero if you know some (I bet you do)…just do it from a safe social distance, and make sure your ‘thank you’ isn’t empty and temporary. Try to give those people the same respect and consideration ALL the time.

My work is on sale here. An Assembly of Love, a collection of my short work posted here on the author blog, is for sale in order to donate all sale profits to Feeding America and Doctors Without Borders, in order to support the worldwide medical response to COVID 19 and local and national food insecurity in America.

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