Thursday, October 25, 2007

bad mommy!

honestly, i can be a pretty judgmental bitch when it comes to others' parenting skills. most days, i can conjure up oodles of reasons why i'm a better mom than so-and-so. although my voyage into and through parenthood has not unfolded as expected, i still pride myself on how i've managed. of course, i love my kiddo more than anything in the world. also, i think she is relatively well-behaved for a 3 year old and quite frankly, the coolest kid anyone could hope for! for most moms and pops, i think all of this goes without saying. this week, however, my little "angel" put me in check this week. the following two conversations happened within 24 hours:

1. i preface this first story by admitting i am pro-spanking. when a kid acts up, you gotta let 'em know who's the boss. that does not, however, constitute a beat down.... just a swat on the butt. ok, so amaia's attitude had been amplified over the weekend by an overnight visit from an extremely undisciplined buddy. he was terribly behaved and after he left, she decided she would try on this "bad girl" role. it was one of the more frustrating mother experiences and needless to say, i spent most of the day yelling and spanking and she spent most of the day either in bed or in timeout. at one point, after literally draggin her into her bed six times in a row, i unleashed a torrent of scoldings at a loud volume. but i wasn't exactly yelling at her... it was more like pleading with her to give mommy a break. it went something like: "amaia, mommy's the only one in this whole world that takes care of you every day. i love you, but you gotta give me a break. i need you to listen to me and do what you're told and stop fighting with me about everything. i'm the mom and you're the kid and that's just how it is (whoa, did i just hear MY mom chuckle in my subconciousness???) and you don't hit mommy!" and the little girl, laying limp in her bed, exhausted from the fight she put up, tears in her eyes, says... "mommy, you don't hit me!" and it stopped me dead in my tracks. ouch. "you know what?", i said. "you're right. we'll talk about that." and later that day, she and i set up a heirarchy of punishments, which only involved spanking if she didn't respond to other things. this has not in any way changed my position on spanking, but it has opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes, when it's in excess, it doesn't work. a swat should be a method of scolding the child after calm reasoning and time-outs... not a method of releasing your own frustration. score one for the kiddo.
kiddo 1. mommy 0.

2. the previous evening, i returned from work to pick up the kiddo after what she likes to call "grandma day". grandma day = friday. she loves grandma day because it's her own private time with her very favorite person (oh, and her very favorite friend - luke, the dog). after hugs and kisses and stories from her day, i retrieve a beer from the fridge. but before i can enjoy it, my mom says "i have to tell you something". uh oh, i thought. "amaia said the f-word today". (insert appropriate villanous audio clip here). what i felt at that moment was mostly embarrassment because i knew who the culprit was here and it wasn't said 3 year old. apparently, it went down like this: two beanie babies are having a conversation... at some point, the blue-colored bear says "are you fuckin' serious?". grandma asks the voice behind the blue bear to verify what she has just said and the voice repeats the phrase clear as day. grandma gently explains that this is not a nice word and she doesn't want to hear it used again. the voice says "but grandma, mom says that when she's talking on the phone". (more embarrassment. more climactic audio). now, anyone who knows me well knows that this particular phrase is definitely a kara-ism. oh my god, i'm that mom. i'm that mom that doesn't take the time to watch what she says and unintentionally teaches her kid that swearing is ok. not to mention the fact that the kid can't recite her own full name or phone number, but can recite the lyrics to the new kanye album... including a few choice words there.
kiddo 2. mommy 0.

man, i got a lot of work to do. this mommy job is hard work!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the art of apathy

"homeless and hungry". three words that infiltrate my selfish existence every morning. the man holding the sign which reads these words is also cold. perhaps there isn't enough room on his piece of cardboard to include that condition as well. the sight of him makes me feel sick as i suck down my chai latte and turn my radio down. it's almost as if the loud music is an insult to him, something i suddenly feel guilty for. as that guilt washes over me, i glance down at my wallet. without opening it, i know that the only thing in it is an unbroken hundred dollar bill. i absolutely could use it... but if i gave it away, would i miss it? what would he do with it? sympathy tells me to actually get out of my car and talk to him. but paranoia immediately follows and convinces me that i might wind up in a ditch or something. even with hundreds of cars passing by. deciding i needed more time to consider this, i continue on. i'm late for work anyway.

i consider myself to be a relatively bright individual, and yet even i have been down the road that leads to displacement. there are two things, however, that i possess that set me apart from those who end up holding these signs: first is the ability to create a hustle in times of need, and secondly, the love of a family who would never let this happen to me. after spending the past month complaining about what i don't have to furnish my home, i now find myself fantastically appreciative of my bed without a frame. my aesthetically-challenged refrigerator. the five coats that i flipped through this morning with disdain. my healthy child.

each time i see a person living on the streets, my gut knots up. i feel pity and curiosity. i want to know who they are and what led to this condition. i want to pull a fat bill out of my pocket and get them started on the road to recovery. and i want to know that they'd take advantage of it and use it in the best way possible. why, then, do i approach with so much anxiety as the ways in which i can ignore them speed through my brain? there are so many. i can't help them all. usually, i only have about ten bucks anyway - and often, those ten dollars have to last me for three or four more days. every friday i'm in detroit, there is a new person on the corner of southfield road and 8 mile. i always wonder if they race to see who gets to stand there and beg for the day... i also wonder if the man i pass in ann arbor each morning will still be there tomorrow. i offer no insightful solutions here today. i don't know of any. the problem of homelessness plagues this country and it gets worse every single day. could we not just take the cool trillion we drop on a pointless war every year and save our own people? am i super-naive for suggesting that? is it not as easy as it sounds? sympathy is a double-edged sword, you know. you care so much, but you feel so powerless. perhaps for some, apathy is just easier.