How do we get where we need to be?

girl in red and white plaid shirt holding a doll Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Today I planned a State of the Union Update: Healthcare. I even have something drafted. But, as my mind is wont to do, my thoughts wandered from Jimmy Kimmel to Trevor Noah, over the the TV series Servant and around to sound bites, growth, history, and misconceptions. All while I showered.

I read years ago that when you stop purposely thinking about a problem the answer comes to your.That’s why so many solutions come out of dreams or while showering. Or to bring in one more disparate reference (Captain Marvel):

Sit with the question long enough and the answer will come to you.

Sometimes the answer comes before The question is clear. Sometimes I feel alone with this problem because so many people have answers locked and loaded before digesting the question.

Bear with me on my thought journey.

Over thirty years ago, CoCo wanted a Real Baby for her birthday. Remember those? Maybe they still exist. Back when CoCo was little, everyone wanted the doll that the size and weight and look of a real baby. The Real Baby even had a neck that needed support. The Real Baby came with adoption papers. The Real Baby had a price tag that was over my single-mother-of-four’s budget. Still, CoCo talked of nothing else.

We’d just moved from a small farming community in Michigan to a Chicagoland. We traded in a sprawling farmhouse, for a compact townhome. Let’s just say needs outpaced resources.

Still, I managed to make CoCo very happy.

In the middle of CoCo’s birthday song, Wrestler #2 sneaked out the front door, placed the Real Baby I saved for, searched for, and finally purchased on the front stoop. I had swaddled her and placed her in a basket, like a Little Orphan Annie foundling. Wrestler #2 ran around the house and back in through the patio door. CoCo was none the wiser. There was her Real Baby ready for adoption.

CoCo loved her RealBaby beyond belief. She loved that the baby was left in her doorstep. I’m pretty sure she name her Brenda, because for years CoCo wanted to change her own name to Brenda.

I should pause here a moment for some back story. CoCo has a cognitive disability. I took her to experts who diagnosed her as mildly retarded without giving a specific cause. I liked what Wrestler #2 said after one of his friends asked, “What’s wrong with your sister?”

She’s just like everybody else. She just lost a year or two.

Wrestler #2 explaining CoCo’s disability.

CoCo took Brenda everywhere. Her eyes sparkled as She told anyone who would listen how Brenda was left on her doorstep and she adopted her. Listeners smiled at my daughter’s enthusiasm and love for her doll. I felt good about spending a little more because it made her so happy.

Sweet story. Right?

I purposely left out a detail that didn’t seem important at the time but became important as the environment changed.

So many little girls and boys wanted Real Babies. I searched far and wide before I found a store with any Real Babies left on the shelf. When I finally found one and snatched her up, the Real Baby, the baby that CoCo adopted, named Brenda and loved with her whole heart and soul was colored.

In the meantime, A friend of mine suggested I take CoCo to Micheal Reese Center for Dysfunctional Children for a more precise diagnosis. Yes, that was really the name of the Center.

We went to the Center, located on the south side of Chicago, pretty near one of my favorite places, The Museum of Science and Industry. The panel of doctors diagnosed CoCo’s with pseudohypoparathyroidism. The geneticist sent me a thank you note because CoCo was only the second case she’d seen in 25 years of practice.

Of course, CoCo brought Brenda along. And of course, she shared her story with everyone she met. An African-American mother pursed her lips and gave me the side-look. That’s when I realized the “abandoned on the doorstep,” story didn’t play as well in every crowd.

What could I say to explain myself? It seemed like every explanation made things worse.

So how do we get where we need to be?

Remembering this story made me think about a few things.

Trevor Noah keeps coming under fire for things he says that are part of a bigger more complex discussion. Out of context snippets go viral. I purposely chose words like “dysfunctional,” “retarded,” and “colored” as words that were commonly used back then, but are not acceptable now.

Jimmy Kimmel asked a little girl for advise on fatherhood. She showed him how to diaper a doll. The doll was a little boy doll. Neither the little girl nor Jimmy commented on the sex of the baby. Something that was significant years ago, is now insignificant. I thought about how significant an insignificant detail became when my daughter and I were in the minority.

Servant is a TV series about a woman who uses a Real Baby to cope with the loss of her baby son.

All these things roiled around in my brain and stirred up an old memory.

I thought about how today we see snaps, videos, and quotes that may or may not represent the whole story. Conclusions are quickly formed, shared, and amplified. We seem quick to condemn and slow to forgive.

How to we get to a place where we’re more open and less judgmental? When do we begin to cut each other some slack and remember that we’re all part of this human race?

How do we get to place where we think more like the rat in The Muppets Take Manhattan?

Peoples is peoples.

from The Muppets take Manhattan