Monday, January 27, 2014

Twenty Year...Wait, What?!

A friend of mine from Facebook land is pretty consistent with her Throwback Thursday posts.  Oh, how I do enjoy having friends who don't take themselves so seriously that they can take us with them down memory lane, scrunchies, perms, and all.  One day some of us were feeling supportive of her and didn't want her to wallow alone in the tears of our laughter, so we ponied up our worst on her thread to show our sisterly solidarity....though most of us were strangers.  That's how it works.

That picture of me, however, just like the pictures of all of us...were pretty serious business at some point in history.  Mine?  I was sixteen years old.  SIXTEEN. YEARS. OLD. And it was my Senior picture.  WTF?

I don't know if this should be more embarrassing for me (then or now) or Ralph Lauren and/or the entire United States of America (then or now) but my with the monstrosity that our athletes are to only wear inside the official Olympic village and nowhere else, lest they be assaulted.  Yes.  Obviously.  Anyone, anywhere would beat someone up for wearing that outfit.  I would beat up my OWN kid for wearing that outfit.  I'm joking.  I wouldn't let my kid wear that outfit.  I'd make him drop out of the Olympics.

Red, White, and Bluetiful.
What's Black and White
Permy all over?

Lucky for the world that I'm taken and that MY sweater is long gone because can you say "POWER COUPLE"?  Kidding, again.  He's probably what?  Nineteen?  And he looks humiliated, like when you put a sweater on a dog that's just not that into it.

Unlucky for him this pic is gonna haunt him for a long time.  Like mine did.  First willingly when I was being a good sport, then, when I joined a lovely group of ladies planning out our 20th class reunion.

Urk.  Just typing that out makes my throat swell up.  Da hubs had his last year, which was fine because there were like 29 people in his class, they feel like family, and, well....he's OLD.  This is getting personal.  And there's like 330 give or take from my class.

This group has been fluid and flexible, opening up the "committee" to whomever cares to show up at the posted venue at the posted time, allowing decisions to be made by the majority showing up there and putting some things to a vote on a Facebook group wall, and somehow organized with the help of one amazingly together lady who doesn't even live here.  I've missed all but the last meeting because of our crazy home schedule, but I finally made it to one, to scan through our yearbook and through the list of names of classmates we had yet to reach to see if we could, as a little group, get our feelers out a little wider than before.
This giant group reaching far and wide that we could barely get our minds around, let alone our arms around.  We even tried to fit them neatly into the categories we knew they never belonged in to begin with, attempting to bully the one "cowgirl" at the table to track down anyone wearing a cowboy hat in their picture.  We laughed, acknowledging that the labels of high school didn't fit then and didn't define us as people any more than the jobs or spouses we have define us now.

It stymies me what twenty years will do to a group of that size, blowing us the 4 directions of the wind, making us parents, grandparents, married 20 years to one person, divorced, remarried, still single, sinners, saints, and angels.  We've had tragedy, success, love, loss, and laughter.  We've stayed together, lost touch, reconnected, remembered, and forgotten.  We are graying, coloring, balding, fat, skinny, angry, happy, confused, and content.

As we flipped through the pages I began to wonder whether the publisher just made up some of the names or whether I had actually attended school with these people at all.  There were faces I knew but their names I did not.  Names I had heard but faces my eyes had never seen.  It was obvious what twenty years had done to me.  It had turned my brain into my Grandma's.  The one that doesn't know anyone.

When you see reunion scenes in movies or on TV, there's always the lady sitting at a table passing out name tags, and she's the only who seems to remember everyone, right?  No.  I realize now it's only because, through the planning process, she reacquainted her brain with everyone that she SEEMS to remember everyone, but I know now that lady is just like me, humped over a hardback full of black and whites, thinking "Who the hell is this?  Did this guy REALLY go to school with us?  He looks FORTY...look...he has a full-on moustache.  He must have been the janitor."

We apparently didn't do a great job distinguishing our foreign exchange students either, because we integrated them so well we had to just go off "memory" for which ones they were, and I, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or purport to know how they'd like to spend their summer holiday, suggested that we SHOULD, in fact, send an invite to Spain. I might NOT have been the most helpful person at the table, obviously.  I also mistook alive persons for dead persons and vice-versa.  However, I would never make a definitive declarative statement without validation first.  Like, you know...obituary level verification.  You have to admit though....zipping through your mental Rolodex for 330 people you may or may not have seen for 20 years when you may or may not be able to remember the names of your maybe or maybe not three children that may or may not be yours is....difficult.

In all, progress was made, assignments given, and fun....yes fun was had.  I'm happy that I had the opportunity to share in this stage of what's "officially" just a weekend later this year but is really extending, for me at least, into more than that.  To dip my toe slowly back into the hot tub time machine, so that perhaps by the time the summer rolls around, I may be the crazy lady who hands you a name tag and knows who you are.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Part Two of: My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

I'm standing by for the inevitable shitstorm this will create, but regardless:

Part II of: My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

I wish this were a followup to the first part, an update of where that story has gone, but sadly, all I can tell you is that the guy didn't show for court, a warrant was issued, but I don't think anyone's going to make a big fuss about finding him because it was a misdemeanor anyway.

No, this is a different parent I'm getting judgy about.  But again I'll preface it by reminding you that I am, by all accounts, inadequate myself.  However lacking I may be, there sometimes occurs crappy parenting that seeps over into my home that causes me to pause and reflect.  THIS was just another one of those times.

After the first of the year I got around to taking down the Christmas decorations.  The tree was last, as I dreaded dealing once again with the partially non-functioning lighted artificial tree that I'd sweet talked into lighting up after Thanksgiving.  I grouched about it giving us ONE MORE YEAR but swore that this would be its final holiday as, while it did serve us proudly over the years, it's a little short for our ceilings and needs desperately to be replaced with a taller version.  As I approached removing the decorations I prepped for organization. Ornaments get sorted by color, glitter ornaments alone in a zip lock bag to keep from fairy dusting everything else in the box, and a separate place for all the homemade ornaments that the kids have made and brought home from school.

As I sifted through the kids' creations I noticed one that had made it to the tree without my prior after-school inspection.  It was a wish list written on a scroll made out of a thread spool painted red, tied with a ribbon and had a scrap of tape attached with a name on it.  The name didn't belong to my kids.  Even if no name was attached, the items made it evident none of my kids wrote this list to Santa.  It contained camo, five firearms, a crossbow, and ammo.  What it did NOT contain was ANY TOYS.  No Legos, not a bike, no electronics, and none of the guns were of the NERF variety.  The firearms were specific and I'll picture them here for your reference.  The photos are benign and not sensationalized or modified or pictured with bleeding animal carcasses to get a rise out of anyone.  They're just so you have an idea of what this kid, who is SEVEN YEARS OLD, was asking SANTA to bring him.

This gun is described as useful for taking down

TWO different, specific shotguns.

Ammo. I assume for all of them.

A Crossbow, for when a gun is too noisy.
OK.  So now that we have digested that.  This is where I say my crappy parenting is not as bad as your crappy parenting.  This kid's mom is missing the point.  In a big way.  When your kid's Santa list contains NO toys, you have failed a little as a parent.  I'm sorry.  I'm not anti gun, I'm not anti hunting.  I'm not beating a path to the Principal's office to have this kid hauled off to jail or counseling.  I AM concerned that THIS kid at 12 is going to be someone to have a conversation about due to his obvious obsession with firearms should a variable get thrown in, like any instability at home, or raging teenager hormones or an anger don't think I'm taking my eye off him any time soon.  In the meantime, my kid is not allowed to go play at this kid's house.  The only salvageable thing I can think to pull out of this is A) at least he was asking Santa for this stuff, so she's not COMPLETELY a monster to me, and B) he's my son's friend, so I am hopeful for the time that they spend together because I know that my kid has redirected him as to the acceptable rules of the school.  I'm incredibly proud of both of them for that.
Now let the political finger pointing begin....I'm sure.  But before that happens, I'll let you in on what I was doing at 8 years old.  At 8 years old I was writing a cease and desist letter to the local newspaper demanding that they immediately stop making fun of President Reagan via political cartoons (which I had recently discovered at that time and was appalled and disgusted about) or I would PERSONALLY tell him what they were saying about him and they would be in BIG TIME TROUBLE WITH THE WHITE HOUSE.
And wouldn't you know?  The newspaper did NOT stop.  Instead, they just printed my letter in the opinion section.  My Grandpa was super proud.  He cut that out and beamed at me and read it over and over again.  Those ay-holes.
I wrote that because I was taught that we had to respect the Office of the President, and by virtue, The President.  That you were not to say bad things about The President.  Granted, this may have been presented in the way that less "Freedom of Speech" countries operate, as in "do not speak ill of the President, lest they come lop off your lips"....or I may have just interpreted it that way.  Nonetheless I had a healthy respect for him and behaved as such.  It translated and trickled down into RESPECT FOR OTHER ADULTS.
So I look around now and I see so many of the same people who say things like "Kids these days have no respect for adults and just need a spanking" are the same ones who are saying things IN FRONT OF THEIR KIDS wishing a range of outcomes from impeachment to death upon the leader of the free world.  I know this to be true because my kids are coming home from school with furrowed brows asking who I voted for and then relaying that "Little Johnny says Obama's a jerkface because he's making it so nobody can afford insurance and he should go back to Africa."
I understand that people are polarized by politics.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  Everyone should educate themselves and their families about what's best for them.  It's not okay, however, to have age inappropriate conversations with and around your children that ultimately, whether you like it or not, is teaching them to behave disrespectfully.  The rest of us are trying to do the best we can and would appreciate you not screwing your kids up in that process because whether you believe me or not, I care about your kid too.  And, well....Roswell happened yesterday.  And other schools before Roswell, and realistically, other schools will happen after Roswell.  So I get to have an opinion about this.  That's why your kid's ornament is in my garbage.  A move that normally would never happen at my house...where misplaced homework always gets returned to owner.  Not this time.  Sorry.