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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Together

There should be some kind of boot camp for new parents that requires them to put together toys on Christmas day while simultaneously entertaining their child(ren) who are on a Santa-induced high and have the attention span of a meth-addicted gnat.  It also should be required for Marines to have to do this as a part of their basic training.  It totally would help them to withstand torture.

First, there is the whole having to get the fucking parts out of the box.  Truly, whoever invented those stupid twist ties to hold the toy in place to look pretty and lure your child into desiring it...this person, who ever you are, you are an asshole.  Then there is the plastic encasing the toys, that when you try to cut it magically becomes razor sharp and rivals a surgeon's scalpel.  Doctor's Without Borders should investigate this as a potential source of medical equipment for them.

Once you manage to get the stupid piece of plastic out of the box, you have to read the directions.  Which really, I understand why men stereotypically skip these because I often end up more confused after reading shit like, "Take the left weight-bearing panel and insert it into the f slots of the upper upper shelf.  Insert the turnscrew and turn until it clicks into place."  And of course, the arrows that are meant to help are usually totally NOT pointing at the fucking f slots and the pictures they have of the weight bearing panels do NOT match reality.  And it NEVER clicks like it is supposed to, leaving you haunted that somehow you will be contributing to a future maiming of your child because of a poorly put together Christmas present.  Meanwhile, you have lost the fucking screwdriver that they told you you needed but you have not quite figured out for what and the kids are literally climbing up the walls.  You frantically start to search for some Xanax and/or massive quantities of alcohol.

So let's say that you actually get the fucking thing put together and it is semi-sturdy and appears somewhat functional.  Out of the bottom of the box floats a whole new form of parental torture...stickers.  Stupid, brightly colored, products of some demented bastard's imagination.  The adhesive on those things is stronger than most welds.  Seriously; you put the sticker anywhere within 1 inch of the toy and some magical force propels it to stick to it.  Unless, of course, it is where it needs to go.  And if you get the stickers in the wrong place, all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth will commence.

Then your kid will play with this toy for the next week, if they have not already abandoned it for the packaging it came in and/or some junk mail that is laying on the counter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Void

I imagine that there are not many people out there tonight who are not horrified today.  Who's hearts are not heavy, minds are not troubled.  People who have shed tears, held their loved ones a little longer and a little closer than usual.  Who all of a sudden realized that bitching about the price of gasoline is crass when the price of another's violent action was so dear.

Today's events are truly evil.  People will fling out there gun control, mental health, parenting, warning signs.  The public will be horrified for a while, and then slowly, but surely, we will go back to our daily lives.  The victims' families will have to live their lives; the town will have to heal.

But nothing will change.

To quote one of my favorite bloggers, "This shit doesn't happen in a void".

We live in a culture that glorifies violence.  Especially violence against women, children, the poor, the disadvantaged.  We also live in a culture that commodifies people.  People are viewed as objects to bend to the will of certain authorities.  Consent is optional.  We also live in a culture that values rugged individualism.  Reaching out for help is a weakness.

What does all of the above have to do with today's events? 

First of all, violence is normalized.  Look at our movies.  Look at the video games we see.  Look at all of the bullying that goes on. Humans have a great capacity to be inordinately cruel to people.  I am not just talking physical violence here; people are frequently mentally and emotionally violent as well.  Bullying is accepted, despite the efforts of many to raise awareness.  Maintaining privilege for a few is valued over bringing everyone to equal ground.  What does this have to do with violence?  Violence changes people.  Exposure to violent acts desensitizes people to it.  I can't tell you how many times people come into my office and tell me there was no domestic violence in their home and then in the next breath admit their father "only" slapped their mother, there was "only" shoving, there was "only" things thrown at each other during arguments.  What is acceptable to some is a direct product of their environment.  Most of the time, someone was trying to exert  power and control.  This leads to the second point- people as commodities.

People are frequently viewed as beings who need to submit to authority, to other people who are hostile to the idea of consent and autonomy over their own body and destiny.  Most frequently, this is tied to the idea of abortion, but it goes much deeper than that.  Anyone who is not one of the privileged ones does not deserve to have authority over their lives.  People are disposable, to be used as weapons; something to take anger, fear, frustration, out on.  They need to be just like everyone else.  There is no room for differences. No room for the mentally ill, for those of different cultures, for those who won't submit.

The third point, that people are supposed to be "rugged individualists", ties into the idea that today's events HAD to have had some warning signs.  If I had to guess, I would say that there was some kind of decompensation.  Some kind of "joking" about violence, that was probably accepted because of my first point about living in a culture of violence.  That may have been questioned by one of the "unprivileged", but dismissed because they have no authority.  Or that may have been outright ignored because of fear, because of not wanting to believe it, because people don't want to get involved or make someone get angry.  The idea that you have to take care of your own problems; that society has no responsibility to you.

In order for meaningful change to occur, we have to attack the very fabric that supports these acts.  No one likes to think that we support this kind of thing, but society does in fact do so.  Stigma about mental illness.  Poor access to services.  Easy access to guns.  And a society that gives our children games that make it fun to kill, that makes it OK to exert power and control in unhealthy ways, that makes it normal to marginalize people, and then wonders why we have a 20 year old who commits such atrocities.

No, not everyone who is mentally ill will commit such acts.  No, not everyone who watches or plays violent games will commit such acts.  No, I don't blame the people who could have seen signs and possibly stopped this and did not.  Who do I blame?

Us.  I blame us.  We keep wondering why things don't change; yet we expect that it will be the "others" with the "problems" who change.  When will we see that WE are the problem.  No othering here.  US.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Elf

So there is this new trend out now...Elf on a Shelf.  I am hoping and praying that none of the kids in Alexis's class pick up on this phenomenon, and that it fades away by the time Charlie starts school.  Why you ask?

Well the short answer is that I am lazy as hell.  I see all of these people posting pics of the cute things that their naughty elf does, and in the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't no body got time for that."  I mean, I guess I could succumb to societal pressures to be the perfect parent, but honestly having to figure out things for that elf to do would cut into my youtube video watching time.  Plus, I would have to remember to move the damn thing every night and I am lucky I remember to put my shoes on in the morning.  My hats off to the parents who do this for their children and have fun with it.  I will make it up to my kids in other ways, I suppose.  Like their knowledge on how to use a wine cork or how to beat that one level on Angry Birds...

Truly, though, the whole concept is a bit creepy.  This naughty elf who stalks you and leaves little "presents" behind for you like some kind of demented spirit hell bent on fucking with your mind...I am truly starting to question the sanity of America.  First Katy Perry sells a bajillion records, then this psychopathic elf who comes into your house and fucks things up?  In the name of Christmas spirit?  That is almost as demented as the concept of the Tooth Fairy.  Sure, let's remove body parts and place them under our pillow to get cash.  And we wonder where the concept of the black market for kidneys came from...but seriously, who the FUCK thinks of this shit?

(On a side note, conversations about the Tooth Fairy in our house usually go like this:

Charles:  Alexis lost a tooth.

Me:  Shit.  Do you have a dollar?

Charles:  No...I do have this Canadian dollar coin though.

Me:  How you know when the Tooth Fairy hates you...you get a Canadian dollar.)

If I am going to get my children to behave, it is going to be through emotional manipulation and empty threats.  Not some creepy toy that magically comes to life.  I have my standards for how I am screwing my kids up.  Not sure if they fall below or above Elf on the Shelf...I'll leave that for the general public to decide.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa

Conversations overheard in my house while watching Elizabeth's Portable North Pole video:

Santa, when talking about the video cameras that are all over the Portable North Pole:

Santa:  Now we have installed cameras all over the village...

Elizabeth (jerks back from the screen and darts eyes around the room):  Uh, cameras?  Oh God...

Santa:  Here, in my huge library, I have a book about every child...

Elizabeth:  HOW HAS THIS GUY NEVER BEEN INVESTIGATED???

Santa:  Santa Claus knows you very well...

Me:  God, I hope he does not mean in the Biblical sense...

Santa comes to a picture of my sister and I pretending to be zombies on bath salts and eating Elizabeth...

Santa:  You are lucky to have family that loves you so much...

Later on, Santa says:

Santa:  Elizabeth, you have been asked this year to not sulk when you are angry.  Let's see if you have been a good girl this year....(elves pull the lever on the machine, and it comes back she is on the nice list...) Elizabeth, you are on the nice list!

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I nailed it.

Santa:  Now I want to show you my most secret place...

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I bet he has candy there too...

Me:  Well, there are a bunch of toys there...

Charles:  Toys, candy, and cameras.  Sounds like a pedophile's paradise. 

Me:  Only in America would we encourage this.

Santa waves good-bye, Elizabeth gives him a high five.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Anxiety

One thing that I don't talk about much is all of the anxiety that I have on a regular basis.  I am constantly having to talk myself down from the ledge of a panic attack because, say, I become convinced that I have left the iron on and the house is going to burn down and kill all of our animals and the resulting trauma will be so devastating to our children that one is going to start selling crack, one is going to be a serial killer who wears people's skin like a dress and one is going to be a Katy Perry fan and get arrested for stalking her.  All because of my negligence in failing to turn off an appliance.

Makes a lot of sense, right?  I mean, for God's sake if my children are going to be fucked up, it is going to be because I parent inappropriately and because their mother is a therapist, not because I forgot to turn off the fucking iron.  (And let's be honest, it is more likely to be a dryer fire because the iron does not get turned on all that often in this house...)  However, at that exact moment I become firmly convinced of this dire outcome and my body starts to ready itself for fighting or flighting.  It often takes all of my strength to talk myself down and to reassure myself that my outlandish beliefs are incredibly unlikely.

I am more successful at times than others.  This Christmas season is a perfect example.  I normally have most, if not all, of my Christmas shopping completed by Black Friday.  I usually start shopping early in the year, looking for items that people would like and picking up stocking stuffers etc., as I go along.  This year I decided for some unknown reason to ignore my crazy and to try shopping like normal people do.

WTF was I thinking?  This must be the same force that makes people with diabetes stop taking their insulin, or people with alcohol dependence say "I can have just one..."  My anxiety level has been THROUGH THE ROOF the past few weeks.  I tried valiantly to tell myself Dec. 8.  Charles and I are going shopping on Dec. 8.  I tried to point out to myself that I did in fact have quite a few gifts.  That I did get a lot on Black Friday.  That I was ALMOST DONE buying stocking stuffers.

Nope.  I became increasingly convinced that my children were going to have a horrible Christmas because I was not done shopping.  That we are somehow going to face financial ruin because I was not done shopping (cause you know, all of the debt we are currently in plays NO ROLE at all...).   That I was going to forget someone because I was not done shopping, ruin their Christmas as well, and create yet another serial killer by doing so.

I wish this was hyperbole; that I was exaggerating. It is not.  Being unorganized and not having a plan or things together...add that to my list of things that the devil will torture me with when I get to hell, along with people walking around saying "I seen" and "You was".  I was getting increasingly distressed because I was not done.

I caved.  I placed an amazon.com order today and finished my shopping.

This, people, is my Christmas gift to you:  If you ever feel as though you are losing it, come back and re-read this post.  My crazy is sure to make you feel better about whatever you are facing.

You're welcome.