The Reckoning Week 58: Raw

April 22nd, 2021

Life right now. So…. raw. 

The complex collective emotional toll of the last year-plus has been extreme. When the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin case, I melted down with relief. Yeah, it’s not everything. It’s barely anything, when you consider everything else. But it’s not nothing.

I heard the verdict on VPR while driving back from Dartmouth with Eliza. She was in the back seat blaring the iPad in her ears and did not get to experience the emotional moment with me, for good or bad. Probably good, because we had already had a pretty rough afternoon.


Eliza has been getting venom immunotherapy for well over a year. At first it was once a week, and now it’s once a month. She is used to the shots — one in each arm — and probably rather enjoys an afternoon alone with one parent, plus the treats we always ply her with to get through it. Yesterday I stopped at Burdicks in Walpole NH and treated us each to a slice of cake, which they handed over in a boutique box folded up just so, and which we ate in the car, with our fingers, like fancy little savages. 

All the treats and one-on-one attention in the world, though, don’t make up for having to get venom periodically pumped into your veins by masked nurses in small, cramped rooms in a big, imposing hospital. Sometimes, Eliza takes it like a champ, the shot in each arm. Yesterday was not one of those times. Yesterday she was defiant, noncompliant, just, you know, really not into it. And I don’t blame her. 

She was sitting in my lap in the patient chair, and after lengthy, unsuccessful attempts to get her to comply, we did what we’ve only done once before: One of the nurses and I held her down tightly while the other nurse forced the shot into her arms. She was sobbing. I could not make eye contact with the nurses. When it was done, I held Eliza tightly to my chest, self-hatred washing over me.

I am ashamed to admit that I’ve held my daughter down while she gets a shot. I hold her down in case she ever gets stung by a yellow jacket, wasp, or hornet again. And she will. 


I held my daughter down to save her life. I reflected on this irony on my drive home, as I listened to the verdict in a trial about someone who was also held down, but for the opposite reason — to completely invalidate, and then end, his life. Chauvin held George Floyd down out of malice, or, worse, apathy. 

Lying in bed that night, I asked Eliza if she understood why she had to get the shots. She admitted she didn’t. Realizing that this 6-year-old has been accepting these shots and these trips to Dartmouth all along without fully realizing why it’s happening made my heart stop. I tried my best to explain it in simple terms. I didn’t want to go so far as to say “You could die.” I didn’t want to hear myself say those words out loud. No mother wants to say those words aloud, or even think them. 

I asked myself whether I would do it again. If the nurses are getting annoyed. If our appointment window is over, and we are all anxious about time. If my daughter is struggling against the shot I know she has to get before she leaves the room.

Those shots could save her life. And yet, I am not interested in raising a compliant daughter. I am interested in raising a Darnella Frazier

If I give her the right information, will she make the right choice, on her own?

After I apologized to Eliza, I told her that for the rest of the day, she could make all her own decisions. And she did. She went to bed very late. She went outside an extra time to “look at the sunset.” She took an extremely long bath, with extra hot water and bubbles. She picked out a totally impractical outfit for her wilderness-based spring camp the next day. She insisted on a bedtime story about a wolf, coyote, poodle, greyhound, and wolfwalker that all had special powers.

Then she slept in her own bed all night and woke up happy.

You are only as free as the most vulnerable and powerless citizen in your community.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What I’m reading:

Why Women Do the Household Worrying — And how to get men to do more of it” in the NY Times Parenting newsletter

Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters from an American” newsletter and in particular, her post the day after the Derek Chauvin conviction, putting this verdict in the perspective of the history of the lack of accountability police officers have been held to in this country when they have murdered Black men: April 20, 2021

What I’m listening to:

Have you guys heard of Lizzo?

Just kidding. I am always the last person to realize things. Lizzo is my new favorite

What I’m watching:

The Apple TV show Tiny World is kind of amazing.

What I’m eating:

Minimalist Baker’s Golden Milk Granola recipe

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3 Responses to “The Reckoning Week 58: Raw”

  1. Very powerful, Joslyn. Thank you.


  2. Thomas Mason says:

    Wrenching post. I really appreciate your willingness to share this.

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