April 16, 2013

No peeing on the playground.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 12:31 pm by openendedcomment

When your child is kicked out of pre-school after managing to download Robin Williams on YouTube and then reciting a routine verbatim on the playground, it’s time for drastic measures.  Catholic School.  My youngest son was enrolled at Faithful Shepherd for Kindergarten as it was determined by his pre-school teachers, his parents (me included) and anyone who had ever met him that this child needed discipline and structure.  We were (all) horribly wrong.  By the end of the third quarter I was kindly asked to not re-enroll him for first grade.  Now, let’s be clear.  He never hurt anyone.  He never bit, hit, kicked, teased or bullied.  He did not swear (at least not in English)  He did,  however, question everything and for lack of a better way of putting it…acted like himself.  A little boy who will not conform.  He has continued this through fourth grade and, to my delight, has not been asked to leave school since.  Though it’s been close.

You may ask what on earth a five-year old could have done to be banished?  As it turns out, many things.

In Kindergarten, at a Catholic School, religion class begins with the book of Genesis.  As his teacher was reading and explaining all about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, my son, Adam,  raised his hand.  Mrs. M. : “Yes, Adam?” Adam:   “Ummm, so you’re telling me that God did all of this in six days, right?”  “Yes, Adam.  He did.”  Adam:  “So, what are fossils?  Conspiracy theories?”

In Spanish class, they were learning their colors.  My son, semi-fluent, was bored.  Bored five-year-olds are dangerous and occasionally annoying things.  He was annoying everyone.  Mrs. O: “Adam, really.  Sit still.  You don’t have to do colors.  You can say anything you’d like, as long as it’s En Española.”  Adam: “Anything?”  Mrs. O : “Anything”  Now, right here I’d have to put the blame squarely on the teacher.  If you know my son at all…even a little…you know that wasn’t a normal conversation.  That was a dare being issued and then accepted.  Adam: “Punta.”  I suppose it didn’t help that when I got the call from Mrs. O, my first reaction was “Oh, fuck. He didn’t.”

The Christmas Pageant at his school was darling.  At least it was supposed to be.  They (the teachers) were bright enough not to give him a speaking part, micing Adam in mixed (and pious) company is not a bright move, but they were dumb enough to place him front row center in the angel chorus.  There he was, along with all fifty kindergartener students, in his little suit with a halo of gold foil sticking up over his head.  As is always the case at these functions, they took a minute or two pre-show to allow parents to snap pictures.  As we were snapping away, in total silence, Adam spoke.  Rather, Adam shouted  “Hey!  Mom!”  I waved  “Mom, look!” as he pointed to his halo “Irony, right?”  The entire parent section burst out laughing as I slid down in my chair.  He wasn’t done.  I knew he wasn’t done.  As the pageant progressed and the little six-year-old Mary and Joseph attempted to get through the show, my not-so-angelic son heckled them on.  The inn-keeper refused to give them a room.  Adam: “Aaaand you’re going to Hell”  Joseph forgot his lines when the Angel Gabriel came to visit and asked if he’d still accept Mary, pregnant and all…Little Joseph “Ummm…I forgot”  Adam: “Yeah, you do, or Jesus would have been a bastard.”   Little Mary, throughout the last scene, had a hard time holding onto Baby Jesus, his plastic doll self kept falling.  Adam : “Mary!  C’mon, you’re killing the son of God”  And my favorite, when the three kings brought their gifts, “Cheap for a King.  They should have brought diamonds or at least got these guys a room at the inn.”    *sigh*   I could do nothing but sit there and wait for it to (finally) be over.

There was also the time he managed to get the entire school evacuated by convincing the other fifty kindergartener children to dump milk down the boiler.  And during the Spring concert, when he “conducted” the whole way through and inserted his own lyrics.  The time he went off about Catholics being vampires, drinking blood…the time he peed outside at recess, and when put on time-out, called the teacher a hypocrite because the school was teaching them about water conservation and he was “conserving water by not flushing.”  So many examples and far too many phone calls home.

Oddly enough, as soon as we put him into public school, he was better.  He still gets in all sorts of trouble, but not to anywhere near the same level.  This is a child who can not and will not be contained by any boundaries of thought.  Church was always a challenge for him.  He’s spoken up at several masses and made all sorts of off-color comments.   Once in front of forty priests that were gathered for my daughter’s first reconciliation.   To their credit, several laughed when he asked if the guys that stabbed Jesus after he was on the cross could ask forgiveness and be absolved, or if they were pretty much screwed.  And though he makes me mental and though parenting him is a daily challenge, I love that about him.  I love that he questions and forms his own opinion.  I love his acerbic wit and the way he can see the humor in just about anything.  I love that his brain works a little bit differently than most people’s and today, as I’ve just gotten a call about a science experiment gone wrong, I need to remind myself of how wonderful his outlook can be.

April 10, 2013

I want to devour the unborn.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 7:38 pm by openendedcomment

I recently ran across a post written by a server at a diner. She was writing about a conversation she’d had with a customer at her restaurant.  She walked up to a mother and her son, age approximately eight, and asked what they’d like.  Boy “I will devour the unborn!”  Silence…silence as this was delivered in the voice only an eight year old male has the ability to produce, high, clear and authoritative.  The entire place went silent.  The mother, looking up at her server with utter humiliation quietly stated “Eggs.  He wants eggs.”

Oh, honey, I’ve been there.

My children have all embarrassed the hell out of me to varying degrees.  It’s as though it is part of the job description of a child  “make your parents want to crawl under a rock.  Preferably at top volume.”  The honest child is the reason for the alcoholic mother.  I’m sure of it.  And today, thinking of that mother’s horror, I thought I’d share some of my little beast’s greatest hits.

Girl Child, at age six, had golden ringlets that reached to her waist.  She had (has) the biggest blue eyes known to man.  On this day as we walked into a Kentucky Fried Chicken  to pick up dinner (my husband’s favorite, don’t judge) she was wearing a pink princess dress, tutu and all…the picture of innocence.  Until she opened her mouth.  In front of us in line was a very, very large woman.  As in Jillian Michaels may not even be able to help large.  Said woman ordered a great deal of food.  My angel, in her angel voice at top volume (it always is when these things happen) said “Mom?  Mom, I thought fat people weren’t supposed to eat fried food!  Why is that fat lady eating fried chicken if she’s so fat?”  Oh. My. God. I wanted to sink into the f-ing floor. I couldn’t run, Atilla the Chicken Eater had already turned around and was glaring at me…so I did my best to stammer an apology, turned to devil-wears-tutus and said “Honey, it’s not your place or anyone’s to tell someone what to eat.  And baby, you know better than to make comments about people’s looks.  It isn’t polite.”   I then looked at my watch, exclaimed “Oh!  We’re late!” walked out, drove to another KFC, got dinner and went home…because honest to God I couldn’t stand there another second.

This same little angel, not a month later, was at the grocery store with me.  A very large (as in body-builder large) man was in the female sanitary aisle.  Now, to me this means this guy is boyfriend of the year.  My daughter rewarded his stellar behavior with the following: As I grabbed my tampax, my dearest girl called out to him “Hi!”…she was darling, and he smiled back.  The she said, all in short order with no pause and in a very serious tone “why are you looking at tampons?  Tampons are only for ladies.  My Mommy says so.  Are you a lady?  You have man clothes, but you do have big lady boobies.  Are you just a big lady? Some men want to be ladies.  I saw it on the TV at my Nana’s house.  Do you want to be a lady?  Is that why you buy tampons?”  OH SH!T.  I stammered (something I’ve gotten good at doing) “Baby, it’s, ummm, it’s not polite to ask people about what they’re buying.”  Mouthed an “I’m so, so sorry” to He-Man and bolted for the register.

Fast forward a year.  You’d think I would be smart enough to never, ever go anywhere in public with children, but sometimes life necessitates it.  My youngest was five.  We took him to a Vikings Football game.  My husband brought him to the restroom, at the Metrodome this is pretty much a large metal trough, and returned fifteen minutes later practically in tears.  As my husband told me through clenched teeth on our way home, the boy approached the trough, dad informed him that he shouldn’t drop his jeans all the way to his ankles as the floor was dirty.  Baby OCD looked around the restroom and demanded to know “Who peed on the floor?!  Which of you peed on the floor?! Are you animals?!”  I share this part as it’s how he got the entire restroom’s attention before dad quieted him down, got him to ready, aim fire and all was well…until a man took position next to him.  Apparently, this guy was Ron Jeremy’s long-lost brother.  The five-year old was impressed.  “Wow!  That’s a HUGE penis! Dad!  You have got to see this penis!  I thought yours was the biggest ever but this is HUGE!  It’s so much bigger than yours!  Dad, look!”  Now, my poor husband couldn’t just run away, his five-year old was in there, mid-stream.  He couldn’t do anything but stand there and whisper “I’m not looking at his penis.  Damn it, hurry up.  Hurry.  Up.  Now.”  Our dear son would not be swayed, he persisted “But, Dad!  It’s the biggest penis ever!  Hurry before he’s done!”  He couldn’t grab the boy and bail, the boy’s pants were down.  He had to endure the other twenty guys laughing themselves sick, wait for baby boy to finish, wash hands and walk away bringing him to me, who was then told the story of the huge penis by our dear son, at top volume…to the delight of everyone in our section.   I married a saint.  This is proven by the fact that our youngest has been allowed to celebrate five more birthdays.

There are dozens of other examples of my children’s mission to murder us…death by humiliation…but three should do for one post.  Remember, the next time you see/hear a terrible child, remember there is a parent wishing they could run and hide…and have some sympathy.

April 9, 2013

A four letter word.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 12:53 pm by openendedcomment

Snow.  I hate that word right now.  Like…hate.  I detest, loathe and despise that s-word.  Today marks the seventh month of winter in Minnesota.  Mother Nature is giving us the middle finger, people I love are going through Hell, my life is chaos and I’m foul…but instead of dwelling on all the crap, I thought that at least for today, I’d try to look on the bright side…find the good.  I need the good right now and when I write things down, they tend to be more “true” or at least seem this way.  It’s worth a shot.

We are going to get several inches of snow.  Bright side: it’s raining before the snow, and we need rain.  I’m getting more wear out of my winter clothing.  Even brighter side, I started my summer-prep workouts four weeks late this year.  My arms aren’t tank-ready and as it appears I’ll have until June before the weather requires a tank top, much less a t-shirt, I’m actually right on track.  Oh, and no sun-burns…not yet.  I can and do burn in 60 degree April within about twenty minutes.  I wear sunscreen everyday and it never matters…I’m still going to fry.  This is also a less sun damage and wrinkles kind of bright side and when you’re on the wrong end of 35, that’s a really big deal.

I never see my husband because he works insane hours and I have to handle 99% of what goes on at home.  Bright side: We don’t fight much because when we do see each other, those petty things don’t seem to matter.  His working this way also means that he feels fulfilled and I’m thankful he finally has a career he can be proud of on all levels.  I also get to take care of things around here my own way, which I actually prefer, no matter how much it annoys me day-to-day.  Bonus bright side:  Bonuses.

I have no social life because I am always driving my children around to sports, friends, sports, school, dates and sports.  Bright side:  I have four healthy and active children.  I’m on the tail-end of this mom-chauffeur thing and I know that I’ll miss it all…someday.  Everyone says so.  Then again, they all also said that childbirth was “a good kind of pain” and that once I got through the two and three-year old phase it would get easier…so we’ll see.

Speaking of children, they have, all four in their own way, been a challenge these past few months.  Bright side: So far, challenges met.  Note to God, Karma, the World: This is not a challenge/dare to make it harder.  Brighter still, I’m pretty sure that based on how we’ve addressed these issues, we’ll be in a better place with each of them in short order.

This past year I’ve been re-examining my relationships with people.  I’ve lost a few along the way.  Bright side: I offered forgiveness and asked for it from the people and situations I needed.  Some worked out, others didn’t, and in the end at least I know I’ve done what I can do.  No more loose ends and way less drama.  Good things.

I’m sure that within a few weeks I’ll be back to complaining.  I know that so many have such larger problems…so many near and dear to me are dealing with things far, far worse.  I hate that I can’t fix it for them and that right now I don’t even know how to make it easier.  I get that I don’t really have the right to complain.  That said, I know I will.  In a month or two I’ll be dying of heat, sun-burned, annoyed that all I do is drive around and work and someone will have royally ticked me off and I’ll fall back into my whining ways…but for today, it’s all about the positive.  And that’s all any of us can really expect, right?  One day and one moment at a time, to enjoy what we can and we what we have…even if today that is the forecast for a foot of snow in April.

April 4, 2013

Just the facts.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:02 am by openendedcomment

What do Henry XIII, Jerry Falwell, and the Nazis have in common?  Well, I think I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.

1533

Criminalizing sodomy began with a proclamation from King Henry VIII. At the time, sodomy was defined as any non-procreative sexual activity.

Really?  King Henry VIII?  The greatest womanizer of all monarchs, a man who clearly had lots and lots of non-procreative activities, a man who actually changed an entire religion and murdered hundreds (thousands?) in order to be able to marry his mistress, a man who killed off wives who didn’t give him sons…this is the morality police who started all of this legal BS?  OK…

1871

Germany criminalized homosexuality with Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. In 1929 a committee in the Reichstag had voted to repeal Paragraph 175, but the Nazi rise to power prevented any action from being taken and the law would remain on the books until 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany.

Wow…we’re taking legal advice and moral direction from the 1920s and 1930s Germans.  Brilliant.

1945

Allied troops liberating inmates of Nazi concentration camps do not release those imprisoned for homosexuality. Instead, they are forced to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175 of the Germany legal code criminalizing homosexuality.

For shame.  That’s right all you “sanctity of marriage” peeps, you side with…wait for it…NAZI’S! 

1961

According to the Vatican, anyone who is “affected by the perverse inclination” towards homosexuality is not eligible to take religious vows or be ordained within the Roman Catholic Church.

Well, here’s the problem: Lots of Priests are gay.  Lots.  Some of the great ones are gay; one in particular that kind of saved my life when I was only 22.  Further, many preaching against same-sex marriage are also preaching against the Pope and Catholic Church.  So, which side are you on, kids?

June 12, 1967

Decided: Loving v. Virginia A Virginia law against interracial marriages was struck down, with the Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a “fundamental civil right” and that decisions in this arena are not those with which the State can interfere unless they have good cause.

This didn’t decide it?  Sure looks like it did…

1972

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands rules that lesbians and gays could serve as pastors, becoming the first European Christian denomination to do so. Many other protestant churches would issue similar rulings in the following decades.

The European Evangelicals are starting to come around….

1973

The American Psychiatric Association votes 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against gays. Conservatives would accuse the APA of giving in to “political correctness” for this decision, arguing that homosexuality should continue to be treated as a disorder.

….or maybe they realized that the weight of empirical data was overwhelming and they were idiots for having this in the books. Just sayin’…kind of like they also removed Learning Disabilities and Downs Syndrome as a “psychiatric disorder” a few decades before.

July 4, 1983

Rev. Jerry Falwell described AIDS as a “gay plague” and decries homosexuality as immoral and against God’s law.

There’s a guy you want to agree with.  Jerry Falwell, a segregationist who spoke out against Dr. King, supported the apartheid in South Africa (he actually sent money to help them during the sanctions against apartheid) and blamed 9/11 on “feminists”…yup, he sure knows what he’s talking about.  HenryXIII, Nazi’s and Falwell…good company!

June 30, 1986 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick that homosexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of the home was not protected by the Constitution.

Epic Fail

1996

DOMA signed into law.

Again, for shame.

2000

The Netherlands legalizes same-sex marriage

April 19, 2000

Vermont approves same-sex unions, thus entitling gay couples to rights and benefits normally available to married couples.

Better

August 01, 2001

Angelika and Gudrun Pannier become Germany’s first gay couple to legally wed in a civil marriage ceremony.

So, Germany figured this out before us.  Not cool, Americans, not cool.

2003

A letter published by the Vatican’s Congregation for Worship asserts: “The ordination to the priesthood of homosexual men, or men with homosexual tendencies, is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from a pastoral point of view, very risky”

But keeping child molesters in the church is OK…as long as they make confession and repent.  This wasn’t really addressed until 2010.  Way to prioritize.

2003

Belgium legalizes same-sex marriage

2003

U.S. Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional to criminalize sodomy.

Baby Steps…
November 18, 2003

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that government attorneys “failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason” to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature six months to rewrite the state’s marriage laws in order to fix this. This ruling was hailed by many liberals but denounced by conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who began to work for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between “one man and one woman.”

Many of whom are now changing their view and publicly supporting full and equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. 

February 04, 2004

The Massachusetts high court stated that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional. “The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,” an advisory opinion from the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage stated. A bill creating only civil unions, not full marriage rights, would be “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”

It’s about damn time…and 8 more states fell in line.

2005

Spain, an over-whelming Catholic nation, legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 20th, 2005

Canada legalizes same-sex marriage

2006

South Africa legalizes same-sex marriage

Really, America?  We’re behind South Africa on human rights?

2009

Norway and Sweden legalize same-sex marriage

2010

Portugal and Iceland and Argentina, another very split Catholic and Evangelical nation, legalize same-sex marriage

Wow.  We’re also behind Argentina on this…wake up, America!

2012

Denmark legalizes same-sex marriage

February 12, 2013

France legalizes same-sex marriage

February, 2013

Great Britain House of Commons legalizes same-sex marriage

2008-2013

President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, speaks out against it and calls for its repeal.  For the first time, a sitting President states his support for same-sex marriage.  Several Republican Senators and Congress Members speak out against DOMA and state that they support marriage equality.  Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and three Native American Tribes legalize same-sex marriage.   California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin have created legal unions for same-sex couples.  In 2012 Minnesota voted against Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Just as it did on the matters of women’s right and civil rights, the United States is moving to equality.

March, 2013

DOMA and Proposition 8 are argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Stay tuned…

April 1, 2013

Special Lies.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 1:23 pm by openendedcomment

You ask how old they are, because that is what people do.  I say 16, 13, 12 and 10.

“Oh cool!  You have a driver!”

And now I say that no, I don’t.  He has special needs and he doesn’t drive.  You are silent, or quickly tell me about someone else’s child who is now “fine.”  Which isn’t the same thing.  At all.

Or I lie and avoid it.

I have learned to lie.

You ask what’s “Wrong” with him

And I tell you he has Aspergers Syndrome (because it’s the one people have heard of) and you say “Oh! I know about that! So he has social issues but he’s really smart.”

I lie.

It’s not that simple.

He also has severe learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and sometimes, he hears voices. But that’s too much and too personal for casual conversation so I say “sort of”

I lie.

When you meet my family and say “So, a big sister and three little brothers”  I quietly correct you that he is the eldest.  And you say “Oh, I just assumed…”

I say “it’s OK.  Honest mistake.”

I lie.

It isn’t OK, he’s going to cry himself asleep tonight or destroy something of hers.  Maybe both.  Because he doesn’t know how to take it and even though it isn’t her fault, he’s going to blame her for being “normal”

Or take it out on his brother, who has lost trophies and awards and friends.  Because he is afflicted by normalcy, too.

You try to do the “right” thing and tell me how lucky we are to have such a special and great kid and how our other children are being taught so much by him being a part of our family.

I lie.

When most of it is right and mostly I agree, that we are lucky, his parents,  I lie that they are lucky.  They aren’t.  They’re lucky to have him and they love him and wouldn’t ever want to be without him, but they aren’t lucky that we are always fighting the next battle which means spending more money and losing more time.  This means they aren’t getting to go skiing or be in hockey over the summer, or have friends over when he’s having a hard time, or go on the vacation we wish we could take or attend a camp, the money and the time goes to get and give him the help he needs.  Something that sounds and when written seems trivial but to kids this is a big deal. It isn’t even kind of fair to them.  It isn’t lucky for them when we’re so stressed we barely speak for days on end because we don’t know how to get to a place where there can be calm and peace in our home when chaos lives here each day with no warning as to when it will come roaring back…in some new awful way.  Lucky would be to have him and also have a break.  Or at least a warning when the “other guy” is on his way.  No such luck.

When you say that you don’t know how I “do it all”

And I tell you “It’s nothing”

I lie.

I don’t “do it all” I do what I can and what I can control, mainly because there is so damn much I have no control over.

When you say “Well, maybe you just need to….”

And I smile and agree or act like I’m paying attention

I lie.

You saw one weekend or one day or one hour of “good” and you have no idea what the other side is like.  He is Jekyll and Hyde and you’ve met but one.  So no, your advice doesn’t really mean anything to me.

When you say “but he seems normal enough, it can’t be that bad.”

I lie.

I spare us both, and I lie.

And yes, there are things that would and could be so very much worse and I remain blessed to have him and all of them each day…but there are times

Times when knowing I and we are blessed and that I should treasure each moment and endeavor to teach them all about unconditional love and acceptance, times when knowing it and feeling it don’t always agree…times when he and sometimes they ask me why this is the way it is and when he will be “better” and what more I can do to help him, when I don’t know that there is more to do that I am capable of…and still have the strength hold the rest together.

Months and days and hours of hurt and pain that a parent who can’t make it all go away feels and still has to explain…

When all I can do is lie.