Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheap, Battery-Powered Crap!

DS (who will turn 3 in late Oct) recently saw that popular animated movie trilogy that rhymes with "Soy Glory," and it is like toddler crack to the child. Which on the one hand is nice because if I need him to just sit for awhile while I take care of something uber important like food or changing an exploded shit-filled diaper, I can use it as a babysitter. But as it turns out, I created a monster, with several downsides...

First, it has caused some behavioral issues: "Soy Glory" taught him how to say "SHUT UP!" Which he says all the time and has become a Real Issue around here. Ok, so truthfully, he probably heard us saying it, too. But in the great American tradition, I'd rather blame The Media for all of my parenting failures.

Then came the introduction of the Cheap, Battery-Powered Crap featuring all of this movie trilogy's cast of licensed characters that started finding its way into our home. People found out DS liked the movies, so they keep giving him more of everything emblazoned with it. It's on helmets, and sippy cups, and Pull-ups, and potty seats, and butt wipes, and more Cheap Plastic Battery Powered Shizz! And it is even at the friggin' supermarket! DH came home from getting groceries with this Cheap Talking Stuffed "Fuzz Brightbeer" toy in tow, that cost about 1000 times more than it cost to make in China (so like $6). DS played with it so much the very first day that the batteries ran out. Oh holy hell. Not good. Not good at all people. Let's just say DS was pissed to the highest level of pisstivity that his beloved Fuzz had suddenly started "ignoring" him.

Time to change the batteries then. But wait, unlike other toys, this one was apparently designed to be thrown away after only a few weeks of play? There was no velcro opening to access the battery panel. So I had to pull out the cheap stitching and remove Fuzz's furry white innards to get at the battery pack, which was encased inside a fabric pocket that was sewn shut. Then I had to cut that mofo open, and find a tiny ass screwdriver to finally open it up. Then I see that instead of using the more popular toy battery sizes like AA or AAA that we coincidentally have loads of both in bulk and in rechargeable form, it requires 3 of those 1.5 volt round silver batteries.... The ones that mama can't find anywhere in Podunkville... except of course at the big box store that is FULL OF LICENSED CHARACTER SHIZZ FROM THE SAME MOVIE!! And that we can't take DS into because the temptation is just too great, and because I don't want to have to leave a cart full of stuff I didn't even need so I can carry a tantruming toddler back to the car to go home early. Thank gawd... without being reminded, DH saved the day by bringing some of the requisite batteries home one day. (He correctly sensed that the need was acute.) Luckily I had some no-sew Res-Q Tape on hand to put a freshly-batteried Fuzz back together again. The smile returned to my child's face as he hugged his cheap little friend tightly, and then scampered off into the sunset to play.

A friend of a now 7-year old girl was recently lamenting the fact that for years all of this Princess shizz kept somehow seeping into their house under the front door. Now I totally get what she was talking about. IT'S EVERYWHERE!! All of this marketing of cheap plastic crap, of fast food, etc to little kids using all of these licensed characters really is unsavory. Yet, short of keeping the kid at home all day with no TV - or running off into the woods - there is just no avoiding it. Or maybe there is avoiding it, but I am too lazy to do all of the rearranging of our lives that would make it possible. Like no TV.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Must Have Friendship Vaginosis

It is one of those rotten days for me, and for no good reason at all. I am really feeling like I am never going to have any real friends here. (For those who haven't heard me go on about this here before, I live in a place I call Podunkville, where everyone except for me & DH falls into one of 2 camps: 1) the uber-Christian, Fox News lovers who definitely wouldn't laugh at any of our jokes, and 2) the cool liberals who are extremely outdoorsy & don't really want to spend time with anyone who is not.)

Luckily, I have good friends elsewhere, which is something I should be grateful for. If I do ever find a real local friend, I will probably totally suffocate her because I will be so hyper-excited to be able to spend time locally with Someone Who Gets It for a fucking change. I just wish my dream of having a few close friends here wasn't something I perseverated on so much! I'm annoying to myself. Maybe the people with same-aged kids who are moving here next year will fit the bill. Maybe DS will meet someone with cool 'rents in his preschool class. I probably shouldn't get my hopes up though. The last time I got my hopes up it sucked. Remember Food Court Mama who seemed interested at first but then never called or emailed me back? Must be my vaginosis. I guess I shouldn't have worn a skirt that day.

I need to quit with the negative self-talk. I actually do have some friends, I think. Or I used to. In fact, a sweet older lady who helped us move here 2 years ago was saying this weekend how impressed she is that we have made so many connections so quickly. Fo' rizzle? So I guess we seem popular to people who don't know us very well, which is nuts. I'm not completely lonely, I suppose. Sure, there's Stitch, my one local friend who I can usually be my authentic self around. However, to be perfectly honest Stitch took a step back from me this summer, and I think the reason has to do with some bad advice she asked me for, which I gave despite my hesitations and now I regret it, and then she didn't follow it, and now I think she thinks I want to say I told her so but I truly don't, and now that she knows I was right I think she feels like she can't talk to me about her problems now... I need to respect boundaries more and refrain from giving advice - just listen! People are going to do what they want to do so JUST LISTEN. Like I should tattoo that on my forehead.

This is another one of those areas in life where I don't want to become my mother. My mother had no friends. Even her sister can't stand spending holidays with her. She married my dad, who was the prom king in college, and turned him into a man with no social life. So that's why I'm so worried about it. But really, if I can't fit in with a bunch of people who have zero in common with me ideologically, culturally, aesthetically, etc, it doesn't mean I'm becoming my mother. It means I live in a place where it is simply more challenging. Right? Right?

Anyway, did I tell you I'm joining a new book club? This one has a slightly older membership than me - women in their early 40s who apparently wondered if I was "too young" when they thought about inviting me last year. One of the members told me she felt bad that I was in the stupid people's book club that chose books like "Twilight" and "Gone with the Wind," and had to convince the other members that I'm not vapid even though I'm 33. (My vapidity has nothing to do with my age, I assure you). Don't you love women's group politics? Good times! So, yeah, given the way I apparently got my invitation over the period of like a year, I am keeping the expectations low. Lower than a snail's tail low.

In other news, now that glorious Fall is here I am feeling the need to watch some scary movies and drink hot cocoa. Watched "The Unborn" and " The Fourth Kind" on DVD recently. Both are scary and hella schlocky. But neither was as over the top as "Drag Me To Hell." Nobody liked that one but me and some nerdy dude who still works at Blockbuster and is a total Sam Raimi fanatic like me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

School as Scapegoat

So I'm going to share a story with you all that I started to tell (rather poorly) in the comments on @Cloud's awesome blog. It's about Ms. R, the friend of a friend here in Podunkville who is someone with an education and resources, who should probably know better...

When I first heard about Mrs. R, she was in the local paper for her newsworthy 'badgering' of the School Board, as she was trying to make a point at their meeting, by applying to them the same techniques used in the school district's discipline policy. (Basically, she put the Superintendent in a time out-equivalent because he forgot some statistic during his remarks, and she tried to draw an analogy between him, and how she felt her son was being unfairly treated in K for "simply not knowing things.") So I thought she was a bit of a badass, and that it is pretty cool to have someone like her disturbing shit in our conservative little hamlet.

Then DH got to know Mrs. R's husband, Mr. J. In the course of getting to know him, Mr. J eventually told DH that their son, N, was suddenly going to be homeschooled after one semester of K, in which they decided "the school district was out to get him, and hates our son." DH came home and told me all of this and I was thinking, "Hmm, something about this story doesn't add up. But ok, whatever."

Fast forward to several months later, when we start to make friends with a couple, The A's, who has kids who attend the school little N used to attend. One day they bring up Mrs. R, and the other side of the story finally comes out. Apparently, N was repeatedly verbally abusive to other children in his class, and was having out-of-control rage fits, by all accounts. To the point that everyone in class was disrupted by him, and some other kids started getting afraid to go to school. I'm not talking about normal kid tantrums, I'm talking about behavior that just seemed totally out of proportion & abnormal. As in it would be clear to the outside observer that N could benefit from an evaluation to determine what is going on with him. The A's felt like they had known a boy with this same issue before, and actually called up their old friend who was the father of the similar boy to see how they should broach the topic with Mrs. R and Mr. J., out of concern for the family. Incidentally, the Superintendent of that other boy's school district actually took a trip to a school in Portland that addresses how to teach kids with these issues so he could incorporate the curriculum into the boy's education plan - talk about an awesome public school leader.

Mrs. A mentioned the friend's son's story to Mrs. R and was met with total denial. Mrs. R first blamed the school district's discipline policy for "shaming her son." Then she blamed the son of another friend for turning the children against her son. Then she said that public school is just not made for boys like hers, who are "intelligent and just super energetic." So now they're homeschooling. Mrs. R doesn't want to be friends with Mrs. A anymore. Mrs. A hopes she'll change her mind and realize that her suggestion was not intended as any sort of judgment about Mrs. R's parenting. Unfortuntely, the writing on the wall seems to be that there is something off about N, and Mrs. R is too in denial to get it checked out, even though they have the means.

Why am I telling this story about people I barely know? Because I think, so often in life, the truth is somewhere in between. This is a great example of that reality. On the one hand, I'm sure the school could have handled it better, but understandably, they are not made to handle little boys with serious rage issues when they have 18 other kids to educate. I'm not saying give up on kids like that - they failed to reach the parents on the benefits of their recommendation for an evaluation. And as for the parents, sometimes the conventional wisdom is right. If the data points that the subjective lens of the school structure is showing you indicate something might be really wrong with a kid, shouldn't we put aside our own parental insecurities and get answers? It is too easy to think "oh my poor baby" and make the school the problem, instead of saying "maybe we both have shit going on that played a role in this problem and maybe we can work cooperatively to solve it." Honestly, sometimes school is the problem. But sometimes parents try to make life way too much like Burger King, have it your way. I can't help but feel N is going to miss opportunities long term by not being around other kids. And N's former classmates - what might they be thinking about his absence after he behaved that way? Maybe that bad behavior does get punished? Or that we get rid of people who can't fit in?

Am I taking crazy pills by thinking about it this way?