Mrs. P… There is a problem with your Son…

October 19, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, The Heartless Bitch Way | 6 Comments

Once upon a time… when my ex-husband and I were still speaking… he called and opened with this message,

“I have bad news, and I have bad news. Which do you want first?”

 “Hey, well, given those options, I’ll take the Bad News.”

“Your youngest needs braces.”

“Oh geeze. and the OTHER bad news?”

“Your eldest got kicked out of computer class for hacking.”

“He DID? I’m so PROUD!”

“Do NOT give him that message!”

“Put him on the phone.”

Son: “Hi Mom…”

“So what happened in computer class?”

“It’s really silly, actually. I was on one of the class computers, just browsing around and I found I could get to the root of the network drive.  The system is supposed to restrict you to your own personal “C:” drive, so this was interesting.’

“uh huh.”

“So I browsed around on the network for a bit and then I figured, Hey, I’m probably not supposed to be here, so I backed out and tried to cover up where I had been, but I guess I didn’t do a very good job… because somehow the computer teacher figured out where I had browsed, and now I’m suspended for class for the rest of the term.”

“How will this affect your grade?”

“It’s no big deal, there’s only 2 weeks left, and any assignments I can do on our home system.”

“You know, N, when you find a security flaw in a system, you are supposed to notify the appropriate authorities immediately.”

(To which my then-bf shouted in the background, “NO. NO. NO. First, yhou build a BACK DOOR, THEN you notify the authorities.”)

“K, SHUT UP. You are not helping.  Where was I?…. Oh yes. Notifing the authorities…”

Now you have to understand that what he did was purely accidental -it wasn’t even as a result of direct hacking.  For example the youngest son said, upon hearing of his older brother’s troubles, “Him? Hack? Oh PUHLeeze!  I have all the teacher’s passwords.”

And my response:  “I don’t want to know! Lalalalalalala” (fingers in ears)

Number 1 son and I talked a bit more about the subject and then I closed with this question:

“So What have you learned form this experience?”

“Cover my tracks better”

“Good boy!”

 Just so the bulk of you don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t condone unethical hacking, however, if a school computer system is so BADLY configured that an unskilled student can breach security, well HELL, they deserve what they get. He didn’t do anything malicious.  They got off easy.  It’s like darwinian evolution. Get your shit together and realize your students are probably smarter than you.  Make sure your systems can survive the onslaught.  And for heaven’s sake, if they actually take an interest in how things work, nurture it – don’t punish them for being curious!

Ironically, I stumbled upon this cartoon this week at XKCD.com (love his twisted sense of humor!), and it reminded me of the whole situation. The “mother” in this cartoon is a quintessential Heartless Bitch. I Love her.  (For you non-geeks, give up, go home. You won’t get it. Stop reading here.).

 Yep. Little Bobby Tables...

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Nature vs Nurture (Nature Wins – hands down)

August 30, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, Random Silliness | No Comments

 (A conversation my youngest had with a co-worker): 

“What’s with you and your brother?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you are both so different. It’s like he was raised by nuns and you were raised by bikers.”

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Chipmunks, Campfires and Zombies, oh my!

August 7, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, Popculture, Random Silliness | 6 Comments

My oldest son has now finished his second year of that fine Canadian rite of passage: Tree Planting.  He arrived late Sunday night, and early monday morning we drove up to the cottage.

Me: “Isn’t that a cute little church? I just don’t get why there is a church and graveyard out here in the middle of nowhere.”

Him:”Oh no. A cottage. I forgot. You know that that means?  ZOMBIES.”

Me:”Zombies?”

Him:”Yes. They ALWAYS get you at the cottage.”

Later that night as we were down by the water with flashlights looking for this enormous old snapping turtle that sometimes comes out a night…

Me:”I wonder what’s making noise over there?” (I shine the light towards the neighbors) “It’s probably just chipmunks. But maybe it’s zombies.”

Him:”Well, it can’t be zombies. They always moan. Ohhhoaaaahohhhhhhh.”

Me:(shining light on the treeline across the bay)”What if Zombies started coming out of the woods right now, just as I’m shining a light on them?”

Him:”That’s the point in the movie where you just book it back to the car, and barely make it in time – you slam the door and zombies are crawling all over it while you hit the gas.”

Me:”Hmmmm. I don’t even know where my car keys are right now.”

Him:”Shit.”

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The “Easy” Gene

July 31, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, Social idiocy, The Heartless Bitch Way | 15 Comments

What is it with men*? Why do so many of them think that because we are women, we have some built-in, innate, genetic wiring that makes it easy for us to work full time, keep the place clean, feed the rugrats and then load the mess of them in the car along with diapers, toys, change of clothes, drop the daughter off at dance practice and get to that little league game on time?  Oh, and pick up coffee along the way while we are at it.

Yep, if you are a woman, this sort of activity is a breeze. Effortless.  Sweatless.  Stressless. Not worthy of mention. But for a guy, WELL. You get him to pick up the slack and it’s a major ordeal. It needs to be recognized for the herculean effort it is.  It’s deserving of a medal or at the very least sympathy and appreciation for all he’s just done.  Once.  Never mind that you do that shit almost every single day.

It’s like when they expect praise and thank-you’s for washing the dishes, never mind that you bought the groceries (on your way home from work), after picking up the kids from daycare, picking up the drycleaning, dropping off the recycling at the depot, and made dinner. That was easy for you. You’re female. Doing dishes is HARD WORK. If you are a man, apparently.

I remember the summer I decided to ride my bike to work and actually get some exercise.  For a whole 12 or so weeks, my husband had to get the kids off to daycare in the morning, complete with diapers and bottles, clothes, and lunches (I still rode back in time to pick them up after work – so he only had the morning routine).  Basically, he had to do the same thing I had been doing for the last 3 years EVERY WEEKDAY.  After just one week, I got an exasperated, “Do you know how STRESSFUL this is for me?!”  As if, somehow, I had NO idea how much effort was involved.  As if it was easy because, you know, I have breasts and a vagina and that magically makes those kinds of parental activities a breeze.

I recall the first time he said, “The kids don’t have clean pants for daycare.”  I replied, “You know where the washing machine is. If they need clean clothes for tomorrow, then make sure they get washed.”  The same went for food for lunches. Make a list and give it to me before I go to pick them up so I can get things at the grocery store, or get your ass out there and buy them yourself after work. 

Unfortunately, mine was not an isolated experience. I hear similar stories from female friends and family all too often.

I find it ironic, (Ok, ok, I find it fucking FRUSTRATING) that guys whine and moan about women treating them like children, and yet, when it comes to playing an equal role in parenting – and I mean truly equal – all of a sudden it’s just too much work and too stressful.   Guys, how about if YOU figure out how to make 5 nutritious (non-boring) lunches in a row, that they will actually eat. Oh, and make sure you actually go out and buy the food too, since you are taking on that responsibility. (It’s like when Dave Cooks A Turkey – cooking the turkey means actually BUYING it too.)  How about if YOU volunteer at the school for headlice check?   How about if YOU check their backpacks every day after school for rotting hidden sandwiches (oops. Didn’t like THAT one), or juiceboxes that are about to explode, or homework that the child “doesn’t have” but has somehow been scrunched into an unrecognizable ball in the bottom?

How about if you notice the floor crunching under your feet before she hands you a broom, and actually sweep under the table before the baby consumes last week’s Kraft Dinner and stale dog food, has the runs for the next 24 hours?  Why is always her job to notice these things and do something about it?

I remember cooking for a large family gathering. My brother walked by as I was juggling two items on the stove, pointed at the floor and said, “You spilled some food”.   Ah yes, the one bearing the vagina should clean up the spills. Even if the one with the penis is doing nothing more than holding his magnificent dick in his hand and watching TV.

It took every ounce of personal restraint not to immediately CLOBBER him with the sauce spoon. 

While I spared his head from the receiving end of a hot and heavy spoon, I did however, verbally REAM him out and told him that it was obvious to me why he wasn’t getting laid by his wife.

If you see a mess, FUCKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Don’t point it out to the woman.

I also can’t fathom how men can be so oblivious as to think they have just discovered something amazing about the kids, or are the only ones who find things stressful, when you’ve been hauling and feeding and cleaning and clothing the rugrats, er, I mean “little darlings”, day in, day out, for years.  Hell, I remember with my first son, I had to go to an appointment when my son was 4 weeks old. I left him with my husband for an hour while I went to the doctor’s. This was his first time actually having to change the baby’s diaper.  When I got back he said, “Do you know how much that kid shits!? Oh my god! I saved it for you so you could see!”  As if I hadn’t been changing, oh, TWELVE of those a day since the kid was born. 

And don’t even get me STARTED on the whole “single father” as a martyr thing.  Nobody rushes to the aid of a single mother, but the moment a guy is the custodial parent, well! People are bringing over casseroles, offering to babysit, offering to “help out”.  The double-standard is sickening.

I don’t think men are from another planet. I just think many men don’t INHABIT this one most of the time. I think it’s time they put their feet on terra firma, preferably in their spouse’s figurative shoes, and stopped thinking that women have some “easy” gene that makes domestic chores and childcare effortless.  They need to notice when shit needs to get done and step up to the plate without having to be asked, or heaven forefend, nagged.  They need to quit whining and stop looking for a medal every time they hold up their end of the stick and do something we have been doing, unappreciated, every damn day.

 

* Ok, don’t get your Calvin Klein’s in a knot – I know I’m being hyperbolic. I know there are SOME men out there who actually respect and realize that it’s just as much work for women as it is for them.  And there are some men who truly do share in the childcare and household chores.  I just think they are still very much in the minority.

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I want to run away and join the circus…

May 13, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Parenting, Popculture, Social idiocy | 8 Comments

Since I saw my first Cirque du Soleil show under the “Grand Chapiteau” in ’97, I’ve wanted to run away and join the circus. 

The bf calls me a “cirquehead”.  (Kinda like a deadhead, but…)

Tonight we saw the newest Cirque du Soleil show, Kooza, in Montreal.

It was FABULOUS. It was breathtaking. It was dazzling. It was every synonym for “fantastic” that I can think of. It made me want to run away with the circus all over again.

(Ok, so I’m a bit old for the acrobatics. But I could be a clown!  Or a cook… or a costume designer… I’m sure I could find something to do befitting of my talents.  Of course, there are the little issues of a kid in university, a mortgage, and the bf that I’d miss…)

I have a theory: Like your first love, your first “Cirque” is always your favorite. It’s the one that stays in your heart as the most beloved.  For the bf, it’s Corteo, because that was his first.  I still rememer his eyes shining as we went out of the tent for intermission. (I’ve never seen him so animated outside of the bedroom).   Mine was Quidam, under the Grand Chapiteau in Toronto. It was magical. I clapped so hard my hands hurt and I had tears in my eyes. I’d never seen any live show that was so wonderfully performed and so breathtaking. And the music! Hauntingly beautiful. 

Since then I have seen the travelling shows Allegria, Saltimbanco, Varikai, Dralion, Corteo, Delerium, (and now Kooza), and the permanent shows in Vegas, Zumanity, Love, Mystere, “O” and KÀ!  I have a section of hallway dedicated to Cirque with mounted posters, masks and memorabilia – including a limited edition “Varekai” poster that you can no longer get. 

In fact I’m such a Cirquehead that, last year I dragged the bf to “CirqueCon” in Vegas and got treated to fantastic “behind the scenes” tours and show specials as well as lots of cool swag.  Though it was organized by fans, and not an official “Cirque du Soleil” function, the Cirque Company treated us wonderfully. I was thoroughly impressed with the organization and how much time and attention they gave us. The bf came along to keep me company. Not really grudgingly, but joking about how I was going to hang out with a bunch of circus geeks for 4 days. He had a fantastic time too and loved it as much as I did. I honestly can’t say enough about how wonderful the Cirque du Soleil company was during those four days – we saw a  KÀ rehearsal and had a Q&A session with the production manager and cast members, a Mystere rehersal, a Q&A session with two actors and the show manager for Zumanity, and had pictures taken with casts of Mystere and “O”.  The “con” culminated with a wonderful reception at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Vegas and a silent auction for donated one-of-a-kind Cirque memorobila and original art with the proceeds going to their programs for youth at risk.

So when I heard Cirque du Soleil had a new show opening in Montreal (their home city), I bought tickets before the show even had a name.

For Cirque, I try to treat myself to “Tapis Rouge” whenever possible – best seats in the house and special treatment before the show and during intermission with wonderful appetizers, champagne, a private tent area, etc.  It’s the ONLY way to fly.  ( I hear they are going to be migrating it to “corporate” only, so you may not be able to get Tapis Rouge in future. *Sniff!*)

I deliberately did not read anything about Kooza before going. I wanted to be surprized. 

Kooza was sensational

I cannot recommend it highly enough. When it comes to your town, or anywhere near your town, SEE IT.  Join “cirque club” so you can get advance notice of Cirque in a city near you and the chance to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public. They sell out fast.  Oh, and there is really not a bad seat in the house in the Grand Chapiteau. (Note: the best seats are actually not the closest to the stage.  If you are willing to pay full price, try to be at least 4 rows back, starting at row D. If you are going to Delirium – (another show I highly recommend, but it’s not like the tent shows), DON’T get floor seats. Sit in the stands up the sides of the stadium – the viewing is MUCH better).

But back to “Kooza”…

Kooza harkens back to the Cirque roots – with the most daring and incredible acrobatics. (The costumes and makeup are stunning too.) The music is always live, and the staging and lighting was marvelously perfect for the show.  All the Cirque shows have acrobatics to some extent or another. All of them have acts that have the audience amazed and enthralled, but this show even topped Quidam for having performances that took my breath away. Every single acrobatic act was brilliant.  And only one act had someone “wired” for safety, which made the feats that much more awe-inspiring.  The double high-wire act – with one acrobat LEAPING over another on the highest wire –  was not netted or wired.  He fell on his first attempt and caught the wire with his hands…. Then he pulled himself back up, started over, and did the trick again, this time landing on his feet on the wire.  I don’t think I breathed the whole time he was preparing for the 2nd attempt.  I won’t give away the rest of the act, (which was even more impressive) – you simply MUST see it to believe it.

Every single act had me cheering and clapping. Every single one was dazzlingly exceptional.  Once again my hands hurt I clapped so hard.  Of the travelling shows, I think, after my first love, this has to be my favorite. (Of the Vegas shows, is my stand-out favorite, though “O” and Mystere are truly first-class as well)

The only detracting factor in the entire show had nothing to do with the Cirque itself. It was the MORON of a mother, in the first row, who brought her toddler.  Yes. A fucking toddler. To a live theatrical performance. 

And here is where I go on a tirade.

I am SICK AND TIRED of self-absorbed, fucking IDIOT parents with an epic sense of entitlement, who think they can drag their kids to every fucking thing they go to, with no regard for anyone else (including the child).  There is just NO excuse.  You DON’T take a baby to a movie or a symphony or a live theatre play. I don’t give a damn if you can’t afford a babysitter. Suck it up and RENT A FUCKING DVD.  You do not have the right to spoil everyone else’s enjoyment because you can’t afford or find someone to mind your kid.  By the same token, when you can afford $220 for tickets to Cirque, you clearly have a clue what kind of show it is and you can afford a goddamned babysitter. An infant is NOT going to get anything out of the show anyway.  In fact, as far as I am concerned, most children under the age of 10 will not fully appreciate it so don’t waste the money.

I firmly believe that Cirque should enforce a strict “no children under 3” policy at these shows. Period.  Honestly, the rest of us paid a serious amount of  money (the cheapest tickets are still $60), and her fucking rugrat was SCREAMING, crying and had to be removed SEVERAL TIMES.  The ushers spoke to her twice, and still her son kept bringing the kid back into the show.  And it’s not like she was at the back where she could easily step outside.  Let’s put the actual enjoyment and effect on the surrounding patrons aside.  While her kid was evacuating all the air from her lungs at a zillion decibels, the rest of the audience was holding their collective breaths as a very talented and dedicated acrobat was trying to precariously balance on one hand on the top of 10 chairs stacked one on top of the other.

For the love of god and the sake of the perfomers, DO NOT BRING YOUR INFANTS OR TODDLERS TO A CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW (or ANY live performance for that matter)! 

That mother’s behavior was unconscionable.  It was rude and it was unfair to everyone else. Even worse,  she delegated most of the responsibility for the little one to her teenage son. I felt sorry for both kids and dearly hope that someone gives that stupid woman a karmic kick in the butt for being such a flaming asshole.

And while I am on my tirade about flaming assholes… If you show up LATE to a show like this, thank your lucky stars they let you get seated at all. (At most live theatres, latecomers cannot be seated until the intermission, if at all). So while you are waiting for the usher to negotiate the people watching the show to get up so you can get to your seat, CROUCH DOWN for fucks sake. Don’t stand there, blocking everyone’s view of the stage.  Show some decency and humility for the fact that you are disturbing other people by getting your sorry ass there late.  (And don’t write to me with excuses about why people arrive late. I don’t want to fucking hear it.  If you get there late, then you deal with the consequences and you show some respect for the people who managed to get their asses there on time for the show.)

Cirque du Soleil puts on some of the most magnificent and amazing live performances you will ever see. I can’t recommend them highly enough. So if you have a chance to see one under the Grand Chapiteau, don’t be a dickwad and spoil the event for others. Get there on time and leave your kids at home with a sitter.

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Smartass Kids

March 7, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting | No Comments

“So I’m picking up my new car in a couple of days.”

“Don’t you, like, get a new car every year?”

“No. Every THREE years, I lease a new car.”

“Oh. What did you get?”

“A Ford Focus ZX5.”

“ANOTHER FORD? Why don’t you get something fun?!

“What do you mean? It IS fun.”

“But you always get a Ford.”

“I shopped around this time! I really did. But I couldn’t find another car for the price that gave me all the features I wanted – bum warmer seats, traction control, stereo controls on the steering column… -“

“Mom. Mom. Mom. All I’m hearing is, ‘I’m comfortable and I’m afraid of change.'”

Š

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Too late for my kids…

February 20, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting, The Heartless Bitch Way | 1 Comment

Fabulana, a long time HBI member, author, and  instigator and part of my “intelligent agent wetware” network, sent me this link on the power and peril of praise…  it’s a fascinating read on studies completed on how praise (or certain kinds of praise) actually undermines self-confidence.   It’s a long read, but worth it if you have young kids.

The message in the article is that generic “you’re smart” praise doesn’t really work. And that in the end it fosters an attitude of “I should only work at what I’m good at”, and “if it’s hard work, I’m not good at it, so I should do something else.”

In fact, from a teacher (after the age of 12) praise is interpreted as “you need extra encouragement because you’re not really that smart”. I can see that translates forward as we become adults –  empty praise really doesn’t work – in fact, it often has the opposite effect doesn’t it?   How many times have we felt that, “He/she is just saying that to make me feel better”?

The article and research is suggesting that there is greater benefit to praising the effort the child expended and the process they went through, rather than the child themselves.  The difference between saying, “Wow, you are really smart/talented/etc.” and, “I’m really impressed with how much effort and energy you put into that project!”

It makes me wonder what happens when we do the same thing with our daughters, telling them that they are “pretty”…  I cringe every time I hear that come from parents, grandparents, etc…   Watch someone with a toddler boy vs a toddler girl. How many times does she get told she is “pretty”, while he is praised for being “clever” or strong, etc…?   Sure little boys occaisionally get told they are “handsome” but not nearly as often as little girls are told they are “pretty”. 

Let’s face it – society tends to praise boys on their skills and girls on their appearance.   What message are we giving the girls when we do this?  Are we telling them that their appearance is what is most important to us? That their appearance is the most important asset they have?  No wonder MaClean’s magazine felt compelled to have an issue entitled, “Why do we dress our daughters like skanks?” – Um… because all their lives we have told them that being “pretty”,being “attractive” – is most important, and as teens, that “skank” look is what is deemed to be attractive? 

Everyone wants to blame the media (who is NOT innocent – don’t get me wrong), or the retailers, or the music industry, but nobody wants to look in the mirror and accept responsibilty for their own behaviors. The truth of the matter is that we have to look at ourselves and our own attitudes and the messages we deliver/support before we can attack the external influences with a clear concience. 

What messages do YOU give your daughters, nieces, granddaughters? What messages do you give them that say that it is more important to be feminine, attractive and compliant, than it is to be smart, outspoken, and a leader?

 (And I have to give a small Kudos here to TDCanada Trust for a commercial that shows parents investing in their daughter’s hockey career! – I only wish it was available online.)

What I also found fascinating in the article was the supposition that there is a genetic link to motivation/perseverance.  I’ve often wondered about that…  Why does one kid just cave and quit at the slightest hurdle, while the other slogs on and refuses to give up?

While my sample set is small, I have often wondered how two people can experience similar travails and one survives and perseveres, while the other curmbles. For example, I know someone (Person A), who had a gruff, demanding father who told him he’d be nothing without that piece of paper from university.  His father wasn’t warm or supportive, and his mother, while loving, always deferred to the father.   I know another person (Person B), whose father was very similar. Both are brilliant, articulate and sensitive individuals. In truth, Person B’s father didn’t even give Person B as much as Person A got.  Person A never really wanted for anything when it came right down to it.  Person B was left at home on his own while the family focussed on his younger brother who was a hockey prodigy. Person B’s father told him he had to get that degree and that ring on his pinky finger to get anywhere in life.  Person B turned out OK by all accounts – full scholarships through university, that degree and ring on his finger – healthy, productive, happy, and person A turned into an emotional wreck who, despite his obvious  brilliance never completed a degree, suffered depression and anxiety issues that severely impacted his life, and is perhaps finally starting to get his life together in his 30’s…

Then I just look at my own two kids. Same parents – same “nurture” (at least, initially), but what motivated one, did NOTHING for the other. What was a learning experience for one, was meaningless to the other. One could be “warned” about the dangers – the other had to experience them to get it. You can’t parent two kids like that the SAME way in the end. You can’t pay lip service to the fact that they are different people. They really think, react and LEARN in fundamentally different ways. When I was young and naive, I thought you had to treat your kids “the same” to be “fair” with them. I now know that in reality, to be fair – you have to treat your kids as individuals, and that doesn’t always mean using the same techniques, tools or responses in exactly the same way with each child.

Yep. I really think the personality and genetics plays a huge part in it all. Nurture is only one component.

You know, It takes me back to the comments of a friend who had two kids who turned out pretty great… When I asked her what her secret was, she said to me, “It’s 5% parenting and 95% the personality of the child.” At this point in my life, I’m inclined to believe it.  Besides, it’s an easier out than accepting the fact that when they are 30, and in therapy, they’ll be blaming ME – because let’s face it, they ALWAYS blame the mother.  Freud hated us. And god knows, my ex is always blaming me for any issues with the kids. Heaven forefend the father could have had anything to do with them having issues or problems, right?!

In fact, it’s such a cliché, that I have a friend with a young daughter who jokes that instead of an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan), they are investing in an RTSP – a Registered Therapy Savings Plan.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense to me. I wish I’d thought of it.

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A mile in their shoes?

January 5, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting | 2 Comments

The news is filled today with the story of “Ashley X” – a severely disabled child whose parents chose to have her growth stunted via estrogen treatments. In addition they had her breast buds removed and she was given a hysterectomy.  While commentary on the father’s website is mostly supportive, there is a tremendous amount of criticism – both on the site and on the news about the choices the parents made.

On tonight’s episode of “As It Happens”, on CBC Radio One, Barbara Budd (?) asked a guest doctor whether or not this treatment was done out of convenience for the parents and not truly in the benefit of the child. The doctor explained that by keeping the child small, plus the other treatments, she can be cared by her family for longer and have a better quality of life – fewer bedsores, no issues with menstruation. (The breast buds were removed to prevent large breast growth and the associated discomfort). The goal was to enable the parents to care for her at home for much longer than would be possible if she grew to her full adult height and size. Since she has the mind of an infant, and cannot even hold a toy or roll over, they have NOT, in my opinion damaged her quality of life in any way. 

Barbara countered with the question of  whether or not the issue was really one of convenience for the parents because of a failure of the medical and home care system to be able to provide better care. 

You know it really pisses me off when journalists couch thinly veiled accusations in “hypothetical” questions.  Her parents don’t live in a hypothetical world. They live in the REAL world – something journalists should try more often. Regardless of whether or not a better home-care system would have given the parents more options, the REALITY is that it isn’t there. The reality is that the parents are doing the best they can and made a choice that they believe will allow their severely disabled child to have the best quality of life possible – with her family.  And SO WHAT if it also allows her parents to have a better quality of life too – have YOU lifted a 130lb adult several times a day?  Helped them in and out of a wheelchair or a car, or to go to the bathroom for a bath?  Why is it in situations like this, that so many people think someone is evil for even suggesting giving consideration to the impact on the rest of the family?  This child has the brain of an infant – keeping her body younger so that she doesn’t suffer period cramps, painful swollen breasts, and the inevitable bedsores and issues that come with being too large for a single person to adequately lift or care for, seem like totally reasonable approaches to me. Under the same circumstances, I likely would have made the same decisions.

I’m sick and tired of self-righteous assholes judging parents of disabled kids when they themselves have NO experience and no intention or capacity to pick up the slack and help those people with their lives.  Looking after a NORMAL, HEALTHY child is challenging enough.  Dealing with a disabled child can be devastating.

When my youngest was born, he had “club foot” – his feet were bent in – not his ankles, fortunately, just his feet. I asked the doctor if they would straighten naturally and he said, “Probably”.

Probably? WTF?

So I asked if there was anything we could do to ENSURE that his feet were straight as an adult – that would prevent him from having knee problems, playing sports, and wearing normal shoes.  I was told that with stretching exercises and special shoes, we could be more proactive in ensuring his feet would straighten.

We waited until he was 8 months old to see if they would get any straighter on their own. They didn’t.

So I took him to a specialist, had the $180 shoes ordered (I was on a medical plan that covered 80%), and waited for them to arrive.  The osteopath was an asshole.  When I took the shoes and my then 9-month-old child to him for a fitting, he went into some overblown tirade about how he was ABOVE such trivial tasks as fitting a child’s feet in special shoes that need weekly adjustments.

In the end I took him to a public clinic that specializes in providing physiotherapy and family services for handicapped and disabled children.  They had plenty of experience in fitting specialty shoes and braces.

While there, the physiotherapist asked if she could perform a full assessment on my son.  I said SURE.  (Better to know sooner, rather than later if there is a problem).  She did all kinds of balance and cognitive exercises with him over the next 30 minutes or so, and then handed him back and announced how nice it was to see a child whose only problems were his feet.

After adjusting the shoes, she looked me straight in the eye and said without blinking, “You WILL donate these to us when you are done, right?”  (I did.  You don’t argue with someone like that. She used the right mix of intimidation and guilt.  She could have been a Reverend Mother in another life.)

She explained to me that they have a numbering system for rating the difficulty of raising a handicapped child.  A downs syndrome child is a “3” – it is as difficult as raising 3 children at once.  A cerebral palsy child is a “5”.  Her stories certainly brought home the difficulty of coping with raising a handicapped child – especially if there are other children in the family that need care and attention too.

She explained that they had no problem counseling teens or at-risk mothers for abortion if they didn’t want to carry the pregnancy to term. “It’s hard enough to care for a child you WANT, much less a disabled one that you don’t want.” 

So when I see these anti-abortion activists picketing abortion clinics, or self-righteous assholes criticizing people like Ashley’s parents, it ignites my heartless ire.

How the hell many of those “activists” have adopted heroin-addicted babies? How many of them are fostering the unwanted handicapped, fetal-alcohol-syndrome, and crack-kids in their homes?  Not bloody many, I’d wager.

Yes, there ARE animals and horribly evil people out there who shouldn’t be parents – but Ashley’s parents strike me as anything but. Hell, they are still together 9 years later. (The birth of a handicapped child often spells the end of a marriage).  They are doing the best they can to ensure that she has the best *quality* of life. It’s clear their actions are borne out of love – not evil.  While her father said the decision was ‘easy’ in light of the overwhelming evidence of the benefits, I doubt it was taken lightly.

Until you have walked 9 years in their shoes, you have no right, and no basis on which to criticize their decisions.

Š

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Kids say the darndest things

December 26, 2006 | Filed Under Parenting | No Comments

Yesterday, while wrapping the gifts, my sons were horsing around and started whacking each other with the empty paper tubes. It devolved into heavy rough-housing, silliness and a risk of material damage to things like hanging lights, etc. – they each stand about 6’2″… They seemed to have agreed to a truce, and dropped weapons when the youngest suddenly picked up a roll, still containing paper.  The paper was flapping like a flag as he waved it threateningly towards his older brother.

In defense the oldest grabbed a pair of scissors off the counter, opened them and assumed a defensive posture. We had a standoff.

Then the oldest said to his brother, in a totally deadpan voice, “You’d better have a rock.” 

(pause)  “Oh. I’m not proud of that one.”

I lost it. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t breathe…

My boyfriend said, “Now look what you did. You went and made your mother cry.” 

 

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