but remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart.”
In this post lies somewhat of a mom-brag and also an American Human rant. Be warned.
I don’t know when it happened. I’d like to blame the current culture that celebrates ignorance over intelligence, and a majority government that calls schooled people “elitests,” but I’d be lying. Because I was mocked for my intelligence way before this shit all went down.
My daughter is smart. She’s wicked smart. She does dumb things, unwise things if you will, but that’s part and parcel of being a kid. We all did those things, right? I mean, I can write you a list about three feet long of all of the stupid shit I did as a kid. Add adulthood and we’d probably stretch a mile. But smarts? I had ‘em. I was talking about bullying with my mom today, and I told her that the one thing that never bothered me was if someone called me stupid. I’d just cock my head like, “Try again.” I knew I wasn’t stupid. You could call me ugly, and you could call me poor, but don’t call me stupid. And not in the Otto way from A Fish Called Wanda. I was hardly stupid.
My daughter is hardly stupid.
The thing is, I take that shit for granted now. She didn’t really speak until she was 28 months old, but since then she’s been making up for lost time, and she has questions about EVERYTHING. And I answer them to the best of my ability. If I don’t have the answer we Google. She talks like a little, verbose, elderly person from days of yore, and it tickles me, and I’ve thought- “When she gets to school they’re going to kill her.”
“They” being other kids.
Because I know, believe me I know, kids are cruel.
Today she had her kindergarten assessment. They “test” them and figure out which classes to place them, and I was nervous. Not because I thought she’d do badly. Because I thought, “Oh crap. So it begins.”
Today the kindergarten teacher who “tested” my daughter came back with her and laughed. She said, “I show them the alphabet and point to letters and ask them which ones they are. Every kid says, “A, B, C…” Livvie was saying, “That’s an A. That’s a B. This is a C… That’s a K- it comes before L… she wouldn’t stop using full sentences.”
And I was embarrassed.
I had a flash of embarrassment that my kid was well spoken.
I said, “Yeah, well, she talked late and she’s not stopped since- heh heh…”
But it gets worse.
We toured the school after. We walked up the kindergarten/first grade wing, and an open room had lights on. Livvie poked her head in, saw a teacher, and withdrew. The teacher called out- “Are you starting kindergarten this year?” Livvie popped back in and said, “Yeah! Hey! You decorated your room like outer space!” The teacher said, “Yes…” Livvie said, “That’s Earth!!” and pointed. The teacher said, “It is.” I said, “She wants to go to Mars.” The teacher said, “I do, too. You know, I think someday we’ll send a rocket to Mars, right?” and Livvie said, “Yeah! And I’m going!” and as we turned I heard the teacher say, “I hope I get her this year.”
What the HELL. My kid came home and told me she wished she’d been asked to do math. She only had to count. She told me she was asked to count and got to 100 before the teacher told her to move along. I spent so many damn years being an under-achiever so people would quit fucking with me that I almost don’t have a frame of reference for this anymore.
I am ashamed. I am terribly ashamed. I am ashamed at every time I “dumbed” down my language in conversation- local dialect not withstanding- and I am heartily ashamed at every single time I played stupid so I wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings. I am ashamed that I ever stopped going to school because my passion wouldn’t pay. I am horrified over every time I ever acted like a dumbass in front of a man I liked because being too smart wasn’t sexy. Wisdom? Sex knows nothing from wisdom- but I’d pulled out twenty-dollar words and been never called.
Screw all of that.
Today Livvie was high as a kite over how well she did and how approving her teacher was. I remember that. I remember the thrill of knowing something. I remember the thrill of learning. All I can do right now is try to foster that thrill. I don’t want her to lose it.
I might have an ally.
Before her assessment today she was coloring with two children in the library. The older sister was coloring, and the younger brother who was oh-so-cute and registering for kindergarten said to Livvie, “What color crayons would you like? Or would you rather have markers?”
They sat on the same chair until it was his turn.
Never be afraid to show your learning. Never. No matter what.
Don’t be afraid to learn. Ever.
Happy Third Birthday, Dude.
Three years ago they told me you were about to die, and they needed to send me to the OR to get you out safely. And they did. And I knew you’d be trouble because our whole family is screwy, but I didn’t know we’d have actual issues. Real ones. Issues that will probably need professional help.
And it doesn’t matter.
You are a beautiful boy, pretty, even, and when I’ve looked at you I’ve shot forward ten years to when the girls will be calling the house asking for you, and I’ll tell them to go away because you’re doing your homework. You will, right? You won’t be me?
And because the world is such, that you are beautiful and will be a lady killer with those eyes and that face, everything will work out for you, right? Because ain’t that America? Looks work first? Personality, which you have tons of, shoehorns in?
On May 18th I’m taking you and your horses to the doctor. You have issues beyond the usual. The grimaces, the face squinching, the growling, the sudden yells that have no discernible catalyst, the pageant wave, the shoulder jerks, all of the rest…
Kids can be mean. Kids WILL be mean. It’s what they do. No, I don’t really understand why on an emotional level. But I know, right now, that if anyone can show the world that they are beyond their troubles- you can.
You stubborn, funny, loving little man.
This was not something I ever considered. We still hope you’re just a weird kid, because all kids are weird. But if this comes to pass-
We ALL have your back. And once your big sister gets her jealous head out of her ass she’ll be your greatest ally.
Because she loves you.
We all do.
I watch you with the herd over at the horse farm, and I know what you need now. You’re so relaxed over there. So calm. No jerking. No squinching. No yelling.
We’re staying here, in this immediate area, for you. And we don’t even mind.
Those horses, on that perfect farm, know that you need them. They know they should care for you. They know you adore them. They think you’re pretty cool, too.
And you are. You always will be.
Just quit trying to break your neck diving off the sofa, okay?
Happy Birthday, Jonas.
We love you.
It is 8:55pm. At 8:52pm 56% of voters chose to amend our state constitution to make marriage legal only between “one man and one woman.”
That’s the bare bones of Amendment One, but it’s not all of it. You can find the rest of it here-
I don’t want to hear one single politician, especially from the GOP since they wrote this amendment, say they’re fiscally conservative ever freaking again. I don’t want to hear them yakking about how they’re Americans for America. I don’t want to hear them pander to the little people. Not ever.
Because they lie.
They’re all liars with different degrees of dishonesty, but if a nation and a state are suffering financially and educationally you certainly don’t dangle the shiny object of a morals issue unless you’re only trying to distract because
YOU HAVE NO FUCKING PLAN.
These people have no answers. They can’t get us out of debt, they can’t make sure the people in the poorest counties have jobs, but what they can do is rattle the saber of moral justice and drag out people who are so scared by what is different that they don’t realize they need to fear what’s the same.
And it is the same. Every year. Every decade. No one is willing to put on their big kid pants and fix the freaking problems because it might cost them the next election.
So I ask them- why do you want to be elected if not to really serve your people? The only other option is for personal gain. Right?
You should be ashamed of yourselves. You should be ashamed every time you put your hand over your heart and salute our flag.
You are failures.
Hatred should never be written into a code of law. The first NC Amendment One banned anyone of African descent from marrying a white person. It was overturned, thank goodness.
This law has tentacles everywhere.
I love my state. It has been my state since 1995, and I want to stay here forever. The land has spoken to me since I was small, and the people, as a whole, are good and kind to individuals.
But when you rile up a population to fear a certain group by using catchphrases and propaganda you are inhibiting the forward growth of a state and a nation.
I am very ashamed of my state. I love you, but right now you’re that weird cousin who pokes sleeping snakes without understanding that they bite when threatened.
This is going to cost a fortune. It already has. That money you’re so fond of hoarding has been pumped into an issue that doesn’t even need to be addressed to suit your wishes in this state. Once this is over the court fights will cost even more.
Teacher salaries. Police. Fire departments. Roads. You won’t raise taxes, right?
I’m going to keep Carolina in my mind. And my heart. And I hope this bullshit doesn’t cause more suffering than we already have here.
I didn’t get to call you. Not even two weeks ago I told my mother that I wanted to just sit you down and tell you what I thought about how you’d handled our family and your life. My mother asked me what the point would be. She told me that at your age it wouldn’t matter, and it would only upset the apple cart.
She was right. She often is. And now you’re gone. And I have to tell you-
I loved you.
When I was small you were the stars and the moon to me. I bought you a cheap plastic ring for Christmas one year, and you seemed to like it. Later, when I knew more, I spent years wondering if it went in the trash when you got home.
But I still loved you.
My whole life if I acted a certain way I was told that I was just like you at times. That never bothered me until I was the last person your mother looked at before she died. You’d seen her once in The Home. Once. I’d had to stop going because I kept making friends with residents who kept dying on me, and I couldn’t take anymore. I was a chickenshit, yes. But I figured Grandmom didn’t even know I was there, and like you, I was wrong. I walked in on Christmas morning, and she looked at me, sighed, and died.
That should have been you.
That woman raised me when my mother, your sister, was at work. She was the best human being I ever met. She loved me, AND you, with every last bit of her heart. She loved us. Even with our imperfections, and even when we didn’t deserve her, she loved us.
Over the past 21 years I’ve tried very hard to avoid doing anything that would end up with me compared to you.
Even though I love you.
You set a chess piece in my hand and patiently sat with me one night and taught me the rules. You were patient. Something I often can’t manage with my kids. But that one night is in my head forever. I know you let me win. I don’t even care. I was maybe six or seven. I am forty now, almost forty-one, and I will never, ever forget that.
My mother, your sister, loved you, too. Through everything. She loved you. Even when you hurt her. Even when your hurt her mother.
You were a crab-ass, and you had a mean streak, and thank goodness we didn’t have to live with you, but we love you.
If there’s a world beyond this I know one thing. I know only one thing. That woman who had so much love, your mother? She took you in her arms yesterday morning and held you. Because she still loved you, too.
Rest in Peace, Jack. And I mean it. I hope you have finally found your peace.
I love you.
“So. Do you really like ______, Baby, or is it just that she’s nearby to play with?”
This is how bedtime went tonight.
“Well, I like _______ this much.” (Fingers at about a tenth of an inch apart.)
“Do you like _______’s mommy and daddy?”
“Oh, I like her mommy and daddy THIS MUCH.” (Arms open wide.)
“I like them, too. But you know, you don’t have to be _______’s friend if you don’t like how she acts.”
A couple of weeks ago my daughter told me that her, “best friend,” had abused our dog. By that I mean that she had come to our dog and squeezed her neck in a strangling motion. Hard. Livvie was uncomfortable. She’s been carrying this ever since.
Tonight at bedtime she asked for her dad, and when I brought him in she told him about it again, and she told him she was sorry she’d forgotten to be mad at _______. She promised that next time she’d get an adult, and that she would be mad, “very loudly,” to make it stop. Then after Rich left the room she asked if Ginny could stay on her bed awhile.
She gave her treats.
She told her she was sorry that _______ had squeezed her neck.
She doesn’t understand that Ginny doesn’t care unless that girl comes back again, and even if she does-
My dog will do nothing.
My dog will sit there and let some asshat four-year-old try to strangle her with her pissant strength, and she will do nothing but leave. My dog is the best damn dog this planet has ever produced for interaction with idiots and small children, and unless you look like a squirrel or a rabbit my dog will not harm you if you’re allowed in this yard.
That girl is no longer allowed in this yard.
Livvie doesn’t want to play with her anymore.
And we told her that was okay. And it hurts to lose a friend, but my dog climbed onto her bed, circled once, and laid down.
Livvie feels everything more deeply than most kids I’ve met, and my dog loves so deeply it’s amazing. I say “My” dog because she is. In her heart she’s mine. But she knows when she’s needed by the rest of the family.
I’m never going to find another like her.
Happy Belated Ninth Birthday, you dork.
This is the email I just sent to everyone in my mom’s inbox that I could determine was a real human-
I have a couple of things to say about the murder of Trayvon Martin. Bear with me.
When I was growing up it was understood that anyone who was a good, responsible person and had been to war, any of them, and had seen combat didn’t really talk about it with civilians. They just didn’t. The same was true of cops. The cops I knew didn’t run around bragging about what they did for a living. Especially if they’d had to use their weapon.
My thoughts on guns are mixed for that reason. My father was a dispatcher. He bought his own sidearm. He had to draw it once when he was threatened. He never had to use it. Special circumstances, sure. He worked for the police force. But he had the right to buy that gun.
Gun rights organizations started, I think, with some good intentions. What I see, and what I have seen, is that the people who yack the loudest about their right to bear arms and brag about their arsenals are like the ex-military or ex-cops who brag the loudest about what action they saw and how many bullets they fired.
I don’t trust a single damn one of them.
The responsible gun owners I know- hunters and not- these things are not an extension or stand-in for a manhood. They might love the lines and the sheen, they appreciate the weapon’s ability to get a job done, but they don’t shove it in someone’s face and yell, “LOOKIT IT!!!”
We need to take a good, long look at what the more liberal (That’s right. Look it up) gun laws have allowed and ask ourselves if any freaking yahoo on our streets should be allowed to shoot without a thought for what that wreaks.
This brings me to my second thought.
When do we stop gunning down young, black men? As a nation. Do we really still think that they’re out to sully our blonde, white daughters? When President Obama was elected I honestly had about 24 hours of fantasy when I thought we were moving past all of this. If Michelle Obama had been elected would we still have these issues as a nation? I’ve looked at our son over the past several days, and I’ve found that I’m grateful that he’s an obvious blue-eyed white boy and not a mystery as his sister and I appear to some people. And for all intents and purposes- we’re white. I still caught grief as a teen.
I can’t understand what a person of color goes through living day to day in this country. What I can understand is this-
Trayvon Martin had parents who loved him. He had a mother who most likely wanted to rip out her own heart from the pain of learning her boy was gone. His father will never watch his boy turn into a good man. His family will never be able to figure out just WHY this had to happen.
Because it doesn’t make a single goddamn bit of sense.
There are enough things to worry about in the world without manufacturing problems. George Zimmerman manufactured himself a problem just so he could whip out his fake member and gun down a black boy. Stand your ground. Even as they run away.
He wasn’t in a world of shit for it, but he is now.
Look around you. Stop accepting this shit as normal. Stop being complacent, and above all, raise your kids to understand that ALL of them matter.