January 15th, 2012

Stand Up


If you look in your backyard, you’ll probably see big, thick wires that are horizontally connected to poles. I have no idea what they are called, I think they‘re called “electrical wires.” Anyway, some years ago I was delivering food for Meals On Wheels in downtown Detroit with a bunch of my friends and we were assigned to some very sketchy neighborhoods. There is one house in particular that I will never forget. I remember that even though I was still in the car, I could plainly see a pit bull in the back yard, running back and forth on a tether and the tether was attached to an electrical wire.


So I called 911.

911 Lady: What’s your emergency?

Me: There is a dog on a tether running back and forth and he’s tied to an electrical wire.

911 Lady: Is that really an emergency?

Me: Uh, I think it is. HE IS TIED TO AN E-LEC-TRI-CAL WIRE.

911 Lady: Is he hurt?

Me: Not yet.

911 Lady: Well, I don’t know what you want me to do.

Me: But you’re the 911 Lady…

911 Lady: Right. I’m not sure what you’d like me to do.

Me: …I don’t know what to do either…

And then I looked at my friends in the car who also didn’t know what to do, with the dog or with me.

We gathered a few more numbers and placed calls to the electric company, the Humane Society, and whoever else we could think of that might somehow be able to remedy the situation. To this day none of us have any idea what happened to that dog, or to the unlucky schmuck who was assigned to confront the owner.

I don’t know why I feel the need to step in when I happen to witness a wrongdoing or injustice. Some people think it’s good that I’m like that but that’s not always the case. Some battles aren’t mine for fighting. My services aren’t always solicited. Yet, I reach for my cape anyway.

If I am in the general vicinity of a conversation where I overhear people talking about someone I know (and the info they’re sharing isn’t accurate) I have been known to step in and level the field (since the person being discussed  isn’t there to do it herself). Unfortunately, by doing this, I usually bring the conversation to a screeching halt.

But of course it does! Who DOES that? Did they send me an e-vite to join their conversation? No. Sure, I go on to apologize for my behavior, let’s face it—the apology doesn’t land well.

I can’t help myself though. It’s how I’m built.

And my kids are growing up around it. They have seen me speak for those who can’t (or won’t) speak for themselves on more than one occasion.

In fact, they are no exception:

Once, when my older daughter “Sweet Pea” was around 18 months old, we were at my friend “Busy’s” house and Sweet Pea fell backwards from a chair that was very high off the ground. She hit her head HARD on the floor behind her. My husband, Cody, and I rushed Sweet Pea to the hospital and after the nurses checked us in, we waited. And then we waited some more. After the crying subsided, Sweet Pea was actually acting very normal, smiling and hitting on some old guy in the waiting room, but whatever—you don’t mess with head injuries. We had only adopted her 7 months earlier and, as parents, we had no idea what we were doing. What if she had internal bleeding? What if she knocked something loose? What if news about this incident made it back to China and officials came to find us…and yell at us, IN CHINESE?

It was stressful.

Some nurse finally took us back to one of those hospital “staging” rooms. It seemed we were making progress, but we ended up doing the same thing there that we did in the waiting room. We waited. This time, unfortunately, there was no old man for Sweet Pea to hit on, she was stuck with just us. We had nothing for her to play with, as this wasn’t a planned excursion, and she was getting antsy. Cody and I were growing increasingly more and more impatient and that feeling of panic we walked in with was quickly turning to disgust.

We had an 18 month old kid with a possible head injury and we were being ignored.

So, we made the decision to leave. Cody gathered our things while I grabbed Sweet Pea  and we proceeded to walk out.

I was right behind Cody as he made his way towards the doors. He was mumbling something under his breath about how bad every single person in the hospital sucked, when all of the sudden I stopped. I turned around (still holding Sweet Pea) and I marched over to the front desk. I was emotionally exhausted and running on fumes of righteous indignation. I was very calm though and I did not raise my voice. This is what I said (I swear, this is how it went down, you can ask Cody):

Me: I feel the need to tell you that I could not be more disappointed in this establishment or this staff. We came in with an 18 MONTH OLD BABY who could possibly have a HEAD INJURY. We have been here for a hour and a half and we have seen everyone but a doctor. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I sincerely hope this is not standard operating procedure for your hospital, because if it is, you suck even more that I already think you do.

One of the nurses: We are so sorry, Ma’am. You are next…you really are next.

Me: Too late. We’re done with this place. And don’t call me Ma’am. I hate that.

As Sweet Pea and I walked back over to Cody, I found him to be not at all surprised about my little performance. He’s not new, he knows me. (And I love that the doors to the hospital are automatic because it made my exit so much more dramatic.)

I guess in some respects I‘ve always been like this, but it seems I’ve become even more vocal as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure if that means I care more, or if I care less. I guess maybe I care more about others, and less about what others think.

The incident with Sweet Pea was easy to defend. I was a mommy protecting the best interest of my child. But, not every situation is like that. On more than one occasion, I have found myself face-to-face with the fine line that runs between “standing up for someone” and “minding my own business.” And sometimes I am not sure which side of the line to stand on.

As a parent, standing up for yourself and defending others can be a hard lesson to teach because the boundaries are blurry. We want our kids to be empathetic towards others. We want them to have good instincts, act on those instincts, and step up for those who aren’t capable of doing it themselves, but we also want them to know when it’s better to just back off and stay out.

I think I get it right some of the time, but other times I don’t. It’s a constant struggle. Should I just be who I am and let loose when I feel it’s necessary, or should I mind my own business and keep my mouth shut unless it involves one of my family?

I don’t know. So, if you do, please tell me. That way I can tell my kids…and take all the credit.


stand up

stand up 2

Categories: Adoption, At Our House, Society, To be passed down...


  1. sara says:

    yes!! couldn’t have said it better myself. agree agree….

    • Robyn says:

      I’m so happy that you agree, although that probably makes you just as bad as I am :)

    • monica Goodwin says:

      My dear Robyn,
      I have the exact same problem..I once got mad at a manager at a Subway, who wouldn’t wait on me because I parked out front in a parking lane, so I reached over past the glass barrier and sqooze, (my made up word for having squeezed) all the bread before I left empty handed except for the dough underneath my nails. I often interject my opinions to complete strangers. I admire you for doing it…loved your blog today.

    • Robyn says:

      Monica! I am so happy that you like it. Thank you so much for your comment. I always love hearing from you, not only because of your wisdom on each one of the topics, but because of your professional opinion as well. I figure if you like and approve of what I’m doing, I’m ok. If you question it, I should probably question it too. You’re kind of a “weigh station” for me (but you never make me get on a scale). I can’t wait to see you next so I can give you a sqooze. Thank you!!

  2. Aimee says:

    I’m with you !! I’m lol like you, maybe worst ?? This is my thought, I’m strong when others are weak, I hear when other choose not to. If you don’t want me to be involed in your life or your decisions. Then don’t make, say or do anything with in my range. As far as I’m concerned ” this is my world, your just living in it”

    • Robyn says:

      I will be happy if you are worse than me because that way I won’t feel so bad about how outspoken I am. I have a feeling that the people in your life know how you are, and the ones that don’t…well, maybe they’ll learn a little something from you calling them out. I’m so happy that you are how you are, and if I knew you in “real life,” I’d hope you’d call me out too.

  3. Edwina says:

    I confess to having most of the characteristics you speak of! I believe that we cannot change who we are, trying to change gives you an ulcer. So as we march on to the days where we will only be known as ma’am…sob…we will continue to come up to you and tell you exactly what we think…!

    • Robyn says:

      Oh, Edwina. I wish I had you in my life so I could see you in action, or better yet–send you in for combat. I would tip my hat, call you Ma’am and then you’d be all over me. :) Thank you for your comment. I love it.

  4. Edwina says:

    Lovin your work :)

    • Robyn says:

      That means the world to me. Thank you so much, Edwina!

  5. Piglet says:

    I think You should feel free to butt-in if someone is saying something inaccurate about someone you know, or for someone who is unable to do it themselves. I love reading your posts!

    • Robyn says:

      I appreciate your comment so much, Piglet. I struggle with “butting in” (usually after I have done it) but at the end of the day, I am who I am. I’m sure you can relate. I was really tentative about putting this one out there, but the topic has been on my mind and I want my girls to be able to read and reflect on it one day. In the meantime, you truly made MY day. Thanks again.

  6. Carmel says:

    Hi Robyn, was just wondering if Anthony had said anything to you because I thought you were writing about me to begin with. Keep up the good work and keep on butting in – someone or something, somewhere appreciates it.

    • Robyn says:

      You are funny, Carmel. Good to know that you are the same way though! I think you are right that somebody appreciates it…it’s the recipients that I am pissing off! Love, love, love hearing from you. Thank you!!

  7. lies says:

    Dh says I often sound like someone who just had therapy in order to stand up more for herself……. I was at the bakery last year. It was packed, at least 15 people waiting. A man cut in front of me. I told him I thought I was first, but to go ahead. He looked at me angry and said “I should be paying better attention since I came in after him.” Fine, I might have been wrong, but that is no need to scold me, I am 35 years old. So I gave him a look and apoligized and turned my attention to my DD. One of the ladies behind the counter returned from her break (I have a feeling she drank her coffee and hurried back), so it was my turn. She looked at him first, since he was very close to the counter. “Can I help you sir?” “No B*tch your colleague is helping me already, couldn’t wait for you all day to show up !” I was dumfounded! I assume they could know each other and it might even be said in good fun. But to talk to another person like that! In a full store! With children (my child!!!) present? Oh, h3ll no!!! Not on my watch. So the lady turned to me “Can I help you?” But I was still looking at the man. He noticed it and turned to me. “I am sorry” I said to the lady, “but I am still a little shocked over the language used just a moment ago.” I turned to the man; “I am sorry, but I have to say this. I have no idea what you were thinking, but no one in his right mind uses this kind of language to another person. Esp. not in a full store with children present. with my child present” He made said I shouldn’t be angry since he hadn’t cut in line and I was the one with the problem. I told him I could care less about me being behind him, if he did cut the line or not. But I do mind him using cuss words in front of me and my child. I turned to lady asked for my croissants and went away. I needed more but I was to steamed to think of what I needed. I took me a full hour to walk the tension of. Dh said I should have let it go. But you know what? If I had let it go I would have thought about it forever. At least I spoke my mind.

    • Robyn says:

      Yeah, baby! I would have done the same thing! Are you kidding me? He doesn’t get to talk to her like that or talk that way in front of you! I hope all the things you said sunk in. Also, I totally get what you mean about hanging onto the tension for an hour. I get worked up like that too, but in the end, I think it’s better we get it out because an hour of being worked up on adrenaline is better than a “forever” of “I should have said this, I should have done this.” Good for you. You got two-in-one that day. The lady behind the counter and your daughter. Good for you, b*tch. (Just kidding). :)

  8. Ann Collins says:

    Dear Robyn..Thank heaven for others.. ..I worry sometime that they will take me away for speaking up, but I firmly believe “You got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” (That’s a song by the way) and to keep quiet and/or ignore an injustice is wrong..even small things.. can grow very large and be almost impossible to correct. We need to think about what kind of values we’re teaching your children and the world we’re leaving to them. Love your work. Granny C

    • Robyn says:

      I love this comment, Ann! I read it over and over again. Your line “to ignore an injustice is wrong…even small things can grow very large and be almost impossible to ignore and correct” is STELLAR. It’s power gave me chills. I love it and I love that you commented because I will have this forever to look back on. Thank you!!!

  9. katie says:

    1. Im so glad youre back!!!

    2. This is amazing!! I put my 2 cents in everyones conversations, wanted or not. After my most recent month long hospital stay , i called and spoke to the head of Beaumont. I told him what i likke and didnt like about how he ran his hospital. I am sure I am on some watch list of crazy people now!

    3. I just today called my now former therapist and told her everything she didnt do right with me.And how her policies suck.

    4.so glad you are blogging again….


    • Robyn says:

      Ms. Katie,
      You are all kinds of bad ass. I’m so proud of you for speaking your mind and getting all of that off your chest. GOOD FOR YOU for actually telling the people who needed to hear it instead of bitching and whining and moaning behind their backs like most people choose to do. I am so happy and grateful to have you in my corner. You are so awesome, I can’t even stand it.

  10. Jeri says:

    Dearest Rob…
    how Knave missed your blog. I AM GLAD u r teaching sweetpea n j to be strong vocal women who stand up for themselves n less fortunate. You are right to stand up and bullies need to back off victims!

    I’ve told u before…I am waiting to see the sitcom! You would rock it!!! Love n MISS YOU… Kiss the girls n come north so we can lunch at Shirley’s!!!

    • Robyn says:

      OMG…Shirleys. GET ME THERE!!! We will FOR SURE meet you there when we come back up. They will love spending time with you as much as I do. I’m so happy you liked this entry. I appreciate your words and wisdom so much. You are, and always have been, the BEST there is. Hot mama. I just adore you to no end.

  11. Jeri says:

    I have….stupid phone….lololol

    • Robyn says:

      I knew what you meant, don’t worry. :)

  12. Jill says:

    It must be the red hair as I do it as well. I defended my daughter so much when she was getting bullied at her school, that the Superintendent banned me from every school in the district. I wasn’t going to wait for some kid to beat the crap out of my kid before doing something to stop it, especially some teachers little brat.

    • Robyn says:

      Hi Jill! You are one fiery red head, girl. Good for you that stood up for your kid. I’m sure she is taking good notes so she will stand up for herself in the future (and hopefully others too). That is the kind of example I’m talking about. I think it’s good that they see us doing it, as long as we do it with class and grace, and that isn’t always so easy, especially when they’re ours. Good for you girl. Stand up!! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Love hearing from you!

  13. Hey Robyn,

    So strange… I just checked you the other day. I think my computer has a Dim Sum Delay by a day or so.

    I can’t live with the ulcer Edwina described, so I speak up when I know something needs to be said. As I get older, though, I find that I pick and choose *who* I talk to…often, it’s after the rude person leaves that I might say something to the others about how well they handled it. With family, I often just nod my head at the crazy coming out of someone’s mouth and then reconnect later with the other baffled persons. (“What the bleep was that all about?!”)

    But I will yell at the adult ‘kids’ who use my neighbor’s yard as a bathroom because they don’t want to stop skateboarding long enough to use their own indoor bathroom. Or if you throw trash in someone’s yard in my neighborhood. Or if you race your crappy little moped up and down the street with its loud motor, waking up the babies. I will be the totally crazy lady that comes out of the house to yell at you!

    Good times.;) Glad you are back…missed you.

    • Robyn says:

      I have missed you too, Hazel! I always wonder if you’ll be back because you don’t do Facebook so I’m never sure if you’ll get new post notices.

      I love that you are the lady yelling at the kids so they don’t use the neighbor’s yard as a bathroom. (That is gross, so I’m sure your neighbor is thankful as well). How about bad drivers? They make me mad when I’m alone, but even madder when my kids are with me because what if their stupidness got my kids hurt? I beep my horn and make faces so they know they did something wrong. Wow…even when I can’t use my mouth, I still find a way to communicate my righteousness!

      Like you and Edwina, I can’t live with the ulcer.
      No way.
      Everything off the chest, right? Everything off!

      So happy to hear from you. I always love it.

    • Oooh, I forgot about the bad drivers part! That’s bound to make me red-faced (and not just in anger)… I do have the habit of yelling obviousness at drivers. I’d elaborate, but our evenings aren’t long enough. Suffice it to say, there are some people out there who know the difference between “my turn signal came standard because I’m supposed to use it” and ” oh hell, they can read my mind, here I go!”.

  14. "Julia" says:

    And this is why you are my BFFL. I know you’ve ALWAYS got my back. Always. And I have yours. That’s why we are BFFLs.

    Even in Bowling Green. At Exit 194.


    • Robyn says:

      If someone messed with you in front of me or not in front of me, things would be UGLY. You are my girl and I love you. Even in BG, exit 194. Especially at BG exit 194. I miss you…

  15. Andrea says:

    Glad you see you’re back Robin. Your description of yourself is like reading one of myself. I tend to, after making sure someone isn’t going to dot my eyes :) state what I believe and why, especially if I feel someone is stating a falsehood or talking smack. In school I stuck up for the kids that were too shy to open their own mouths in their own defense even when it made me the new target. Good for you.

    • Robyn says:

      NO. Good for YOU, Andrea. You are one tough cookie. It’s one thing to stand up as an adult, but as a kid…in school? That is really tough. I am so impressed. I hope my girls are like you. I look back on things that happened when I was in school and I wish I would have gotten up a bit more. Maybe that’s why I am the way I am now. Maybe I’m trying to make up for injustices of old. (I just made that up right now!) Hopefully my girls will pick up on it early so they are more like you as kids. Thank you so much for your candid comment. It has me thinking…

  16. Michelle says:

    I’ve been missing you, I’ve been reading you quietly for awhile. I think you are dead on, we as mommys are our childrens advocate, its their right to have US stand up for them (doggies too). I am so different from you but I would always love to have you as a friend to back me up! (I’m the quiet type) If it makes people feel uncomfortable to be caught when their doing wrong well I think thats ok, were all here in this place together we gotta make it work! Keep being you! You ROCK!

    • Robyn says:

      You have made me so happy that you commented, Michelle and I would be honored to stand up for you if you ever need me. (Though I have no idea where you are). I’m loving your email address and I’m going to check out your blog later for sure. Thank you again for your comment. I especially love the last part–the part about how we’re all in this together and we have to make it work. I couldn’t agree more. It’s funny that you say that though because I was thinking about it a little more after I wrote about it and sometimes it is exhausting job to open my mouth, and other times it just comes out naturally. A very fine point that you brought up. You’re a smartie and I like it!

  17. Andrea says:

    I really wasn’t that brave. When I was in elementary school I had fairly hair and many, many freckles and large teeth which are actually one of my best features now. Who knew? You might say I was a walking target for bullies. When I hit around 15 I went from the ugly duckling to the swan stage. All of a sudden the kids who had been mean to me especially the boys wanted to be my friend or to date me. Hmmmm, no. I have a long, long memory and I hold a grudge. I had decided then that I wouldn’t date anyone from my home school and in fact married a man who lived100 miles away in Rochester Hills. But seeing the kids who never phased out of the “ugly duckling” stage did something to my heart and I stuck up for them.

    • Robyn says:

      You are the hot girl who never forgot where she came from. That is AWESOME because you have empathy for others. You weren’t in that “hot” bubble your whole life. In a weird way, it’s like you earned your hotness. I’m glad you did. You clearly deserve it.

  18. anne of green gables says:

    i have often thought i was the granddaughter of Anne of Green Gables (4 those of you who have read the book or watched the movie) i can “talk a mile a minute” and frequently do~i am also a superhero (i have have made milk and liberated pitty pups that were chained outside w their nursing mother in the dead of winter (i carry bolt cutters on my walks thru said bad neighboorhood) where i was volunteering for 4months at a woman’s shelter in nashville (the locals are very excellen, shout out to helpful restaurant staff who put good hot food in boxes for the women’s shelter rather than throw away all their hard work:) and i am forever grateful to the angel (total stranger) who stopped while walking his BIG brindle pretty pitty pup and stood guard 4 me while i cut her chains (the nursing mother) and took her & her pups 2 a safe house ps i went on to medical foster (pensacola, northwest florida animal helpers) a pitty pup w mange (looked like a little pink pig when i got him) w a rocking chair in the laundry room and after a few weeks of daily shots he was adorable, white w chocolate brown spots and a ring around his eye~hence his very un pc name~Petey:) he was raised w kittens and was excellent w them (a rescue cat was pg and gave birth while we fostered petey) and he is happy in a cat friendly home:) so glad to find kindred spirits~i love my laptop:) (thanks to my sweet child who bought this as a 40th birthday present:)

    • Robyn says:

      I think I’m in love with you. You are stellar human being, Anne of Green Gables (and yes, I have read the book but I have never seen the movie). This comment is beyond brilliant and I’m so grateful you took the time. I’m a little teary eyed over what you did for those pups. You saved each and every one of them and gave them a life they would have never otherwise known. YOU ROCK THE FRIGGIN’ HOUSE, GIRLIE.