Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ode To OSP

I love swear words. I love the way the word fuck rolls off my tongue. I think it must equate to the way expensive ice cream tastes really smooth and creamy; the way clean sheets feel super soft and luxurious when you first lay between them; or perhaps, the inhalation of a much needed cigarette, for those of you who still bravely partake of the socially unpopular practice. Swearing feels like my guilty pleasure. My adult pleasure: I don’t allow my children the same verbal freedoms. For those of you already yelling about hypocrisy, I also don’t allow them to drink, vote, or drive a car. There are some privileges that come with age. 
It always amazes me how upset people get at the occasional expletive. I follow a parenting site on Facebook (don’t look so surprised, I did write a parenting book) and it seems the use of profanity has gotten people downright pissed off. So angry as a matter of fact, one jackass (I couldn’t help myself) even declared the foul mouth offender unworthy of being a mother. Seriously! As if the criteria for being a ‘fit’ mother relies solely on the words one uses to articulate feelings, thoughts, opinions, or ideas. 

I believe that it isn’t the use of certain words that are destructive or offensive. It is the way in which those words are used, i.e., you are fucking awesome vs. you are simply worthless. Wikipedia Encyclopedia seems to agree with me. It defines an expletive as, “a word that performs a syntactic role but contributes nothing to the meaning.” Bing Dictionary throws another vote my way, stating, “an expletive is a word with no meaning: a word that carries no meaning but has a grammatical function in a sentence.”

Many parents demean and damage their children every day without ever using a single cuss word: Why are you so stupid? You are so lazy. You are fat. You are useless. These are the words that should be curse words, completely off limits in the aforementioned ‘fit’ mother criteria. These are the words that should offend us because they have meaning. They have the power to devastate your child’s self-worth, to destroy their future. As a parent, that is what should be considered fucking unforgivable. 

Oh shit, I used that word again… Mmm, it feels so good sometimes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some Kinda Crazy

I am not the PTA Mom perfected. I don’t actually belong to the PTA, and I don’t actually enjoy sizable groups of children. Furthermore, I don’t like congregating with their parents. However, I do attend all the school functions; primarily because my son has some health issues and I need to be able to take him home if necessary. I am not usually relied upon to act as a chaperone because there is the possibility that I may be leaving. This is not typically an issue as there are usually multitudes of mom or dad volunteers.

I should have realized that something about the environmental education field trip was amiss when my son’s teacher sent out an email pleading for volunteers. I ignored the email; I don’t chaperone. The email was followed by a phone call. I wanted to ignore the call, but I wasn’t completely sure it was related to the field trip or some unforeseen mischief on my son’s part. That is how I became the chaperone for eleven fifth graders to a picturesque conservation park complete with wetlands, irrigated turf, scenic trails, conservation areas, and mud bogs. 

The night before my sentinel duty I didn’t sleep well. Along with the idea that being outnumbered by a small army of kidlets is disastrously unwise, I am also not a nature lover. I don’t mind the occasional walk by the serene river, especially if the path beside the tranquil water is paved. I love the clean fresh smell a heavy rain leaves in its wake. I prefer the documentaries on the Discovery Channel to the authenticity of the forest. The idea of trekking up a mountain, for the sake of trekking up a mountain, boggles my mind. Mostly though, I don’t like bugs, spiders, small slithery things, or rodents. 

My anxiety was misplaced. It wasn’t the kids (they were fabulous), it wasn’t the terrain (my pride wouldn’t allow wheezing in front of eleven fifth grade explorers), it wasn’t even the bugs (I bathed myself in bug spray) that ruined my expedition into the majesty of Mother Nature. It was Forest Grove. No, I didn’t assign him that asinine title; he introduced himself that way. He was our guide. He was also very sanctimonious, unpleasant, hypercritical, and smug. He berated the kids constantly. He spent a full five minutes lecturing one boy (in front of our entire group) on why he should be wearing his name tag where Forest Grove could clearly see it. It was hard to witness the tirade, so I stepped in and stated that I thought the kid completely understood the importance of name tag visibility. I followed by advising all the children to make sure their name tags were visible to Forest Grove. Grove haughtily responded that he used to be a fifth grade teacher. To my way of thinking, that was even more reason that the fruit cake, self-titled, Forest Grove should have stopped his verbal embarrassment of an adolescent (I hold him to a higher standard because he was educated to teach and facilitate the learning of children). When one unfortunate girl smacked at her calves because she had ants crawling on her, he loudly condemned her for not wearing the proper clothes. When another girl asked if she could keep the moose bones she had found, Forest Grove, obviously horrified, proclaimed, “The forest belongs to EVERYONE!” 

I was worried about my young charges as we followed fanatical Forest Grove through the woods. Were they having fun? Were they upset about the rabid, condescending tone Forest Grove used when one courageous soul was brave enough to ask a question? They had enthusiastically anticipated this trip, was it a disappointment? During the lunch break, I asked my adolescent companions if they were enjoying the natural beauty of our surroundings. It was heartening to discover that my worries were unfounded. They all were having a very good time. Kids are truly amazing. They can be mistreated and degraded by the people who are supposed to introduce and ignite new interests for them, and still tell you about all the wondrous things they discovered. I realized that I had also enjoyed the camaraderie of my adolescent environmentalists, in spite of Forest Grove. And to add a cherry on top the sundae of a field trip I found myself partaking of, one smart young girl proclaimed that she simply planned to hang out in close proximity to me because, “… that Forest Grove is some kinda crazy!”  

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Crypt Keeper

Okay, I admit it, I may occasionally refer to my kids’ grandma as the crypt keeper. I know, I know, I shouldn’t do it. But before you send me hate mail, in all fairness, you have never met my kids’ grandma. She’s not the warm and fuzzy lady you may remember from your childhood. She’s not going to let her precious little grandbabies lick the spoon while they bake chocolate chip cookies one rainy afternoon. She’s not going to sit quietly and knit warm, fuzzy blankets for her precious offspring to cuddle. She won’t let you curl up on her lap if you get a boo-boo. In fact, she will most likely holler at you to suck it up and quit being a baby. Sometimes, I swear that I smell sulfur when she’s entering or exiting the room.

 My kids’ grandma is… well frankly, a bitch. Still, I know I shouldn’t refer to her as the crypt keeper. I know, as I am sure many of you are going to tell me, that it is wrong to disrespect someone who has a significant role in the lives of my children. I should let my kids develop their own opinions of their grandma without (dis)coloring them with my own tainted views. So why do I do it? I do it because I don’t want my children to internalize the dislike their grandma has with mankind in general. She is simply an unpleasant person. Even small animals seem to sense this and scatter when she approaches.

Children tend to internalize dislike. We are actually the ones that reinforce that belief when we coach our children that you must first be a friend to have a friend. When we kiss them goodbye and remind them that they must be good and mind their manners, or they may not be invited back. We are essentially teaching them cause and effect. We are reinforcing the idea that if they behave appropriately, their behavior will be acknowledged and rewarded. Sometimes, however, that is not the case. Sometimes you can be a cute, adorable, well behaved, four-year-old and wind up with the crypt keeper. 

Sometimes people, even the people who are suppose to love you, simply because you share the same genetics, don’t like you. Maybe they don’t like anyone. Perhaps they are just generally disagreeable. It isn’t personal. And, most importantly, it truly isn’t about you. Their grandma may be a miserable human being but that has nothing to do with them. It is actually a flaw in her. That’s the lesson that I am trying to impart to my wee ones with my (slightly twisted) humor. And I think they understand that lesson because where there used to be tears, now we have smiles. When they return from a visit, I ask them questions: Was it hot in hell? Did you have to use sunscreen? Can you roast marshmallows? Do you meet people like Hitler?  

Oh man… I think I smell sulfur…