Work has been stressful for the last month: I was transferred to another department, and the changes are challenging and ongoing. In the midst of all the upheaval, we had Mardi Gras. In this post, I had planned to post about Mardi Gras and complain about my job. Then I came across this blog post - which put all my complaining into perspective.
Each night, after she listed her daily gratitudes and wrote in her
diary, she would find the countdown calender drawn on pink paper and
dressed in white, silver, purple, and red glitter. With her very special
pen, she would carefully cross off one more day, informing me of the
new countdown as she called out wishes of sweet dreams. As the countdown
slimmed from a month, to a week, and then to days, her excitement grew.
“I don’t know if I should wear a costume this year or not, Mama,” she
contemplated in the middle of a lesson on polygons for her sixth grade
“Mama. do you think I will get a shoe?”
“What do you think the floats will look like?”
“Which book should I bring with me to read while we wait?”
“Should I take pictures with my cell phone?”
“I am so excited for beads, Mama!”
She was preoccupied with the parade, the Krewe of Muses, and our Mardi Gras holiday.
Since our first parades as New Orleanians a few years ago, our Mardi
Gras holiday has consisted of Muses on Thursday and d’Etat on Friday.
Having a spouse working in the restaurant business, Lundi Gras and Mardi
Gras were never spent together – he is busy insuring everyone else has
their spirits high on these two special days. And because my daughter is
a high-functioning autistic child, we stayed away from the crowds of
the super krewes. Just in case.
We have always watched the parades along the extended route,
sometimes called the family zone, and it has been an enjoyable
experience. We have reconnected with old friends, exchanging Mardi Gras
wishes while catching up with the latest changes in our lives, and have
met many new friends. My daughter has played along strangers, created
art while patiently waiting for the show to start, and read her first
Nancy Drew book along the parade route. Through the challenges that we
sometimes face throughout the year, issues dealing with social and
sensory issues, Mardi Gras and Muses was the moment of the year where it
all faded away, where we were a normal family embracing the culture in
our new city, creating memories of our new life.
As we sat on the sidewalk along the parade route and patiently waited
for start time, we talked about what we thought we would see, which
bands we loved listening to best, and whether Elvis would make an
appearance on his moped. We watched Pussyfooters pass by on foot, 610
Stompers in full uniform, and a few Bearded Oysters with high hair
weaving through the crowd. As parade time approached, as cliche as it
sounds, there was a sparkle in my daughter’s eye and a smile so big, it
made me wish that she could spend her life this happy – always.
And then they came. Despite sitting on the ground, our feet on the
street, they came in front of us, a gaggle of college kids holding to-go
cups full of booze, cigarettes in hand, f-bombs flying out of their
mouths with no care who was around them. Once the parade started, we
stood, them still in the street. Then the first marching band hit the
road, forcing us all to back up, my daughter getting lost in a sea of
twenty-somethings drinking a little too much. Some were local, others
were not. She looked at me, her eyes tense.
“Mama, I can’t see. And that guy keeps touching me with his beer.”
Despite her 5′ 6′ frame, she was surrounded by young adults too
involved in gossiping about who was going to be screwing who, which
picture they had on their phones that were “too epic’ to not post on
Facebook, and preoccupied by the booze pouring out of their red SOLO
One boy, over 6 foot, came dangerously close to starting my daughter’s hair on fire. Only one float had passed by.
“Excuse me, Sir,” I said, ” do you think you could move over a bit.
My daughter cannot see, you’ve spilled some beer on her, and you almost
got her with your cigarette.”
He looked at me blankly, then looked at her. He looked at my daughter
from head to toe, staring at the patch on her coat that would indicate
she was autistic to medical personal should an emergency arise. He
sneered at me before laughing in my face.
I put my arms around my daughter, warming her up, protecting her, whispering in her ear.
The tall man with the bear hat on his head paid no mind to us. He didn’t move, either.
“Hey, man! I need to move. This woman is bitching at me because her
retard daughter can’t see the parade!” he shouted to a kid a few feet
You can read the rest of the post and all the comments here. I assure you that you'll be moved.