There are times when I find myself so dumbfounded by the events of the day that I almost can’t even believe they took place at all even when I know they did only because I was there. And still, all I can ask myself is “Really? That just happened?” Today is just one of those days.
In my years of education I have encountered many poorly behaved children and even worse parents. It is, as they say, an occupational hazard. Out in the “civilian” world, however, I like to at least pretend that these beastly people know how to adhere the very basics of human decency, the first being “treat the elderly with kindness and respect.”. It infuriates me when not only reality interferes with my blissful pretending but when it impacts with the people I love most.
My grandmother, and 81-year-old British woman who has survived the Great Depression, World War II, and an abusive drunk of a husband, is being terrorized by a group of 9-year-old boys. It’s true. These angelic boys, according to their mothers, are picking on an old lady. Isn’t that something? Do you know what my son was doing when he was 9-years-old? He was playing with Legos, Transformers and loved learning about bugs. He was not out antagonizing old women and shouting out their names over their fences while jumping on the trampoline.
These fine young men, who are just little boys — says the mother when my husband and I went to go speak with the parents who lived in the house diagonal to Grandma — and she has already told them to stop sliding off the roof of her shed. Besides, she knows for a fact that her son and his friends are not doing backflips over the fence anymore.
I wonder if the other boys’ mothers — the ones who are supposedly her friends and women she has been called to serve in her church congregation — know how quickly she threw them under the bus when she defended her son as being the well-loved one in the neighborhood but the other boys as being more rowdy, especially this particular kid and this one, too. (He’s new, you know, so she doesn’t have a ‘read’ on him yet.) I am sure all these other women won’t know because once she sends her “group text to all of them regarding this situation” (she assured me) she will shift the blame to us as neatly as she did to them. I’m certain that in between her evening runs and yoga pants, her perfectly mismatched socks, she will have composed the perfect explanation as to why none of the taunting of an elderly woman or door banging would be their children’s fault.
In fact, it should be a reasonable expectation for Grandma to be fearful of being in her backyard for fear of being hit with a flying ball, shoe, dirty sock, or even bag of papers. Even know, I can hear the data whizzing through the air and pinging off cell towers. I can only hope for unlimited texting packages.
These poor, defenseless children are only nine! There is absolutely no reason at all they should have to have any consequences. Clearly I have lost my mind. And I think there might have been a few moments between hearing the father speak and my brain exploding because once I heard the words “This is just what boys do” I might have really lost my mind. Is this really what boys do, Dad? Do they strip their shirts off just so they can shout at an 81 year old woman, “Look at us, we’re naked”? Gee, Dad, maybe that’s what your boys do.
Let me ask you this, Dad: When these boys are older and out feeling up girls without their permission are you going to respond with “This is just what boys do”? Because that catchy little phrase is another way of saying “Boys will be boys” and that is not acceptable anymore. Further, Dad, you should be embarrassed to know that your son — no matter the age — is treating a woman in this way. And your wife should be embarrassed that you aren’t.
But perhaps this is symptomatic of a larger issue (of course) because good ol’ dad over there a couple blocks away from me has his beautiful blonde wife and adorable children. He was out there washing his sassy black car when we walked up and didn’t even introduce himself or his wife when she came outside. It can be just so hard to be an Us in a world full of Thems, especially when the Thems actually expect some sort of respectful behavior and there are water spots drying on black cars. Parenting is more than just acquiring the offspring and house to shove them in. You need more than the necessary and unnecessary items to go along with the job. Children are not entry-level homes with optional add-ons like hardwood floors. They are a hands on job. It’s an actual responsibility that needs to be taken seriously and no amount of wax-on/wax-off is going to make a difference if your kids are harassing the defenseless.
And so, I recognize your darling cherubs are only 9-years-old. I heard you the first dozen times you told me, Parents of the Year. However, I do hope you heard me the first time when I told you that the local police department has already been notified of the entire situation. It’s probably an unfortunate choice on your part to have been so rude in not having the conversation inside your home after all.
Consider this, Dad, when you ask me (again) “You know they’re only nine, right?” you better have a response for when I reply, “Do you know how old she is?” Because I assure you, 81 years will beat out 9 any day. I have no respect for a man who can’t seem to find the ability to raise his son to treat the elderly with respect. These people disgust me.
Leave my grandma alone.
I’ve been a bit of an absentee blog mistress lately and it hasn’t been because I have not been writing. I am in the eye of a writing storm and it is all the fault of my dear friend Wholly Jeanne who makes her mark on the world over on The Barefoot Heart. She has me involved with writing my life history, you see, and I am writing every single day for 90 days straight!
Wholly Jeanne is a loving and sweet woman but she is a taskmaster.
I have taken to this project with a great deal of care and consideration. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I take family history and genealogy quite seriously and truly believe that I have a responsibility to be a careful steward over my story. I want to be the one who owns my words and so I am undertaking this project with an eye towards my future.
We live in such a remarkable time in that there is so much information available to us at inspiring speeds. At the same time, however, there is also a dark side to this because people multiple identities for themselves in a matter of seconds. I have often referred to this as “Pulling a Gatsby” — who wouldn’t want to start over new with a new name in a new country and have their American Dream come true? And just like Gatsby, people can recreate themselves and become whomever they have always wanted to be.
But at what price?
The paths we take may cause us to stray from where we thought life should take us, but just as The Prodigal Son came home to welcome arms, we will find our way to where we need to be as well. That’s the story that needs to be told and recorded. They may not always be pretty or perfect. They will almost always be stories that will embarrass family or horrify parents. But these are the tales that will edify generations and show them that life can be lived.
When my life is over only words and memories will be left behind. I want them to be full of the vibrant color I laughed and cried in so the world I loved will know what I breathed.
I’m sure by now most of the western hemisphere and half of the eastern hemisphere have already seen this video:
I know that I have seen this on my own Facebook newsfeed at least a dozen times usually being described as hilarious or adorable. Never being one to join the lemmings, I resisted watching it but eleventy-billion people can’t be wrong, right? This kid must be adorably hilarious and if I don’t watch this video I would be depriving my uterus of some serious cuteness.
I have to wonder if all eleventy-billion people watched the same video I did because this was repulsive behavior. While I love cupcakes a great deal I see no reason to behave in such a way nor would I think it cute to see someone else to do the same. Even a three-year-old. And so this is where I am left to wonder a number of things.
Where have we gone so horrifically wrong that an entire community (which social media is, whether people want it to be or not) would not only celebrate but validate such disrespectful behavior from a child? Further, what bothers me more in all of this, why would this be considered adorable and therefore excused? Because if it is adorable now it will then be adorable when this child is nine, then fifteen, and completely adorable when he is seventeen and completely out of control.
I’ve already read enough blogs and articles to know people are analyzing and critiquing the parent behind the camera. I’d like to point out the armchair quarterbacks but I don’t want to give them web views. Of course it would be easy to blame the mother who is videotaping her son acting like a beast. Of course all of us could play child psychologist and discuss how important it is to model appropriate and positive behavior, and my hell, did the boy mention spanking?!
And before I get all the high-and-mighty complaints from people about how dare I talk about parenting, I will be the first to admit that my children can be out of control. So all you Yadda-Yadda types can suck up all the wind in your own sails. My own toddler has been known to take her clothes off and run through Target, for hell’s sake, so I know wild. But here’s the difference, I take responsibility for her public nudity. When my son broke a horribly tacky necklace at Kohl’s I bought it. And then he worked to pay me back for it.
You know, it’s being accountable for all the shares and likes on social media that made this kid famous for being “so adorable!” for arguing with his mother, calling her by name, over wanting cupcakes. Eleventy-billion people just patted that kid on the back and gave him a reward for being a brat.
Sure, what this boy’s parents contribute is a large contribution. However, our contribution — as a collective whole — is a much larger problem when we celebrate poor behavior. For all of us who whine and complain about The Entitlement Generation, what are we doing to promote it? We sit on our asses and click “share” when it’s a picture or video of a kid who is displaying entitlement behavior and either say it’s cute or it’s terrible. And yet, none of us do the sensible thing and ignore it. We keep feeding the gremlins after midnight and then wondering why there are all these cocoons around waiting to erupt into monsters.
And so, how can eleventy-billion people be wrong? Apparently, they can be extraordinarily wrong. I can’t wait to hear how they respond when the cupcake kid grows up and is trying to convince a judge to keep him out of jail.
My friend Sara at Domestic Type lost her mind again and asked me to guest blog for her many weeks ago. Time went by and I thought she had wisely reconsidered when I finally received her cheerful phone call giving me my writing topic. Sara originally had asked if I would be do an interview for her blog and so I was expecting to receive the typical list of interview questions.
Of course, Sara is not the typical person and I should have known much better. She asked me simply one question:
“What is love?”
A good question, I thought. I felt a little guilty answering it since I don’t believe in it. You can find my full response “The Edge’s Flame” at her blog, Domestic Type. I hope you’ll click around once you’re there; it’s a delightful little place.
Three years ago yesterday I watched my growing baby dance and flip around inside the little nest inside me for yet another ultrasound. Ultrasounds were not new to me or my unborn child as the impatient little thing tried its hardest to take a running start into this world before I was even twelve weeks along.
The baby hated these ultrasounds, even when it was nothing but the size of a small jelly bean — which is exactly what I called it. When my little jelly bean could, it would edge away from the probe used in transvaginal ultrasounds. My little bean would squirm and wriggle and flip its way out of the way of the transducer during pelvic ultrasounds. I wondered how the rest of the pregnancy would be like once room in the nest would begin to run out — this baby definitely liked its space!
And this day was no different. The technician had a rough time measuring itty bitty kidneys and a teeny tiny heart. I laughed at the naughtiness displayed on screen and finally put my hand on my belly, “Hey! You settle down in there! We need to find out if you are going to be a pink jelly bean or a blue one!” And just like that, the technician caught this image:
My baby girl’s hand pressed up near mine. A beautiful little hand with five beautiful little fingers reaching out to the world. A little girl’s hand that hasn’t been still since.
I mentioned to the technician that it was International Women’s Day as she let me watch my baby girl play inside her home inside me. She remarked to me that my little girl was by far the most active baby she has ever had to “film” and I laughed. “You should feel it from my end,” I told her.
I was thrilled to celebrate International Women’s Day with my precious growing daughter — with every kick and turn, jump and wiggle, I could foresee the life she had in the future. This little one was going to be a fighter and assertive of what she wants. This is the girl that would ask questions and not be afraid to express herself. If anyone would be a part of the world’s change, it will be her.
And now, my darling little jelly bean — my Miss Bean — will soon be three years old. She finally got what she wanted and arrived a month early. She gave the NICU nurses a run for their money by constantly pulling out her feeding tubes. She is my dragon baby who will tear up when she is reprimanded or if she thinks she has made you sad, but she will say “No!” without remorse. And say it often. Yes, this little Bean of mine, she will be there front and center demanding equal pay for equal work and health care reform.
That is her future. Right now, I hope to get her potty trained and to stop coloring on the walls.