Friday, June 29, 2012

Hero Worship

When I started writing this piece, I really had intended it to go in a completely different direction than it wound up. I was going to focus on people and things that pissed me off. People that got on my nerves. It turns out those people are ME!  I guess it has taught me that I don’t have to fix everything. I don’t have to be the hero.  Can you relate?  Please....

Know what I hate?  Hymning and hawing.  Wishy-washy.  Passive aggressive.  (although, at times, passive aggressive can be pretty funny to watch)  I hate when someone wants something but does not ASK for it.  Like when my grandmother, whom I love dearly, will sit there and say,
“Oh, it is such a hot day out.” (pause)  “You just can’t seem to quench your thirst on a day like this.” (level look) (pause)  “I wish this weather would break.” (glare) (pause)  “My throat feels so scratchy with this dry heat.”  (fanning herself) (she is the Italian Blanche Du Bois) Then, when I take the bait, and offer her some water, she will protest.  “No, no, don’t trouble yourself, you are so busy just sitting there.”  
Why wouldn’t she just say “Can you get me a glass of water?”  I kind of forgive a little because she is 91 and in her generation, women were not allowed to just come out and ask for what they wanted. It would have been considered rude or bitchy, so they became masters of manipulation.  They always seemed to get what they wanted in the long run, but it took a lot of time and effort.  
In this day and age, just come out and say what you mean and mean what you say.  There is no need to expect others to read your mind. You are an idiot if you get mad at them for not picking up your cues!  I think it is a co-dependency thing too.  When one gives in to those manipulators, jump at their cues and try to anticipate every need, they are just as much at fault, making themselves crazy while the other sits pretty without a care in the world.  
Now that I am thinking about it, I am guilty of trying to anticipate every possible land mine, obstacle, and problem before it happens, which, at times, include anticipating how someone will react or feel.  I have been called 'Hector Projector.' 

This can work to both my advantage and my disadvantage.  For instance, if I correctly predict that my 4 yr old will be tired with no nap by 2pm and my 8 year old will be hungry by 3:30pm and my husband will not be home by 5:30pm like he said but probably closer to 7pm, I know that means that I should make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner by 4pm.  What? (stay with me)  That meal only uses 2 pots for quick cleanup, the boys will eat their full of it without hesitation, and it is an easy reheat for the Hub.  I can give the kids a bath so the Hub can eat. Then, when the boys are in bed and screaming that they want daddy, he can go up with them after he eats and I can catch up on facebook clean up the kitchen for an hour.  See, it all works.  The problem is, there are times that I anticipate the future so much that I ruin the fun now.  I am so worried about cutting obstacles off at the pass that I can’t just enjoy the present.    
But enough about me being wrong.  Let’s go back to me being right.  It is the kind of thing that makes me feel like I know what I am doing.  Makes me feel invaluable, like the hero of every day life.  Especially when we are out and about.  When, for instance, one of the kids is thirsty and I pull out an extra water.  Or we are sitting in traffic, they are just starting to argue and I hand them coloring books and crayons.  When someone skins their knee and I whip out the wipes, Neosporin and bandaids.  When Little One has an accident and I pull out the extra underwear, pants socks and shoes.  When someone is cold and I have the sweater, someone is hot and I have the cool towel.  When someone is scared and I remembered to bring Mr. Turtle. When someone is looking for his sunglasses and I find them where he always leaves them (in the center console of the minivan) When we go on vacation with the dog and I remember the can opener for the dog food. When someone’s alarm clock on their blackberry goes off at 4AM on a weekend and I get up to find it and turn it off so the kids are not woken up.  When...  
Oh MY GOD, I am about to cry!  I can’t take this shit anymore..... WHERE IS MY COOL TOWEL!  WHERE IS MY SIPPY CUP!   WHO IS TAKING CARE OF ME?   But here is the thing.  It’s completely my fault.  Who said that I have to make sure that everyone wants for nothing, all the time? I mean the Hub runs out the door with the boys, with nothing but a plan for how to have fun.  And you know what?  They always do!  They have a blast.  There are times where he may have wished he had an extra water/pants/bandaid/snack, but not too often.  Why am I so friggin neurotic?  Why do I have to anticipate everything?  I guess that is just my job?  Is it?  I mean maybe that is why the kids don’t see that there are consequences for  shit happens!  And sometimes there is not a GD thing you can do about it.  It’s life.  You can never anticipate everything. Now, I am still going to be an advocate for being prepared, because it has saved my ass more than a few times, but maybe I don’t have to be so crazy about it.  Maybe I don’t need to focus on it as much.  It sounds good in theory, right? 
Isn’t it good enough just being me, being their mother who has fun and gives advise instead of sippy cups, time instead of activities, love and attention instead of bandaids and a change of pants?  Maybe I should let them figure out their needs all on their own?  Naaa, who will be the hero, then?  ;)  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Am I raising Spaulding Smails?

Here are some major mothering mistakes, right here, out in the open.  In case you want a little review here is what I wrote last summer about this same time.  (My Bad Ass Kids
Let me first preface that First Born is a energy filled, constant moving, attention loving and intelligent. He is loved by his teachers and coaches.  We always get compliments about how focused he is and how he stays away from trouble causing situations, even when they involve his friends.  He is helpful to other children and is generally happy and very confident.  
With that being said, he can be the most complaining and seemingly ungrateful 8 year old I know.  He always wants more.  When at a Phillies game - sitting in amazing seats - he wants to be in the front row, then he wants another hot dog, then he wants popcorn, then he wants to walk around the stadium.  When we tell him ‘no’ to all of these things he sulks, pouts and whines.  See Spaulding When on a vacation in Gettysburg - after spending 2 hours walking through the park - he complains that we didn’t get to see everything.  When going fishing, he complains that he didn’t catch the biggest/first/most fish.  When at the beach he is too hot/cold or his sandcastle is not perfect.  When I tell him to get a shower he wants a bath. When I tell him to get a bath he wants a shower.  
The ingrate does not realize how good he’s got it!  Pretty Damn Good!  We are by no means rich, but our kids want for NOTHING.  There are times I think a good 70s style whoop ass is in order!  Once First Born was complaining that he was the ONLY one of his friends that did not have an DS!   I then asked him why he wanted one, since he hates video games and gets frustrated when playing them.  He said, because everyone else has one! WTF!  (not a good enough answer, you ain’t getting one!) Then he asked for an ipod touch for Christmas. Really?  He is 8!  He likes music and so do I, but an ipod touch?  This is not needed at this age, not to mention that it can connect to the internet and I am not comfortable with that. Besides the fact that I think he just wanted it to play Angry Birds.  He has complained that we don’t have a pool or a cool play set or a garden railroad!  WHAT!  He wants a garden railroad and was pissed when I told him that was unrealistic.  I guess my next project is to go online and find out ways that I can teach and instill fiscal responsibility and deter greed.  
He is not always this way.  There are many times he is very happy and accommodating.  But we never know when Spaulding will rear his ugly head.  When he does act like a spoiled brat, it brings us all down.  No one can seem to fully enjoy the event, if little Mr. 'I want it all and I want it now' is around.  I can, at times, predict when he will act this way - he hasn’t gotten enough sleep, he is hungry, Hub is working a lot, he has been watching too much tv, etc.  These are all indications that he will be miserable and ungrateful.  Although, how long can we use these excuses?  And how long will I feel completely responsible for him acting like a pain in the ass, since it is my job to make sure he is fed, has enough sleep, is not watching too much tv, etc., etc.? 
Just the other day, we were at the Phillies game and all the aforementioned  things happened. The Hub and I decided that we were leaving the game early because he could not stop his complaining.  He cried but did not seem surprised.   When we got home, Hub and I snuck outside to fight about confer and figure out the best way to handle the situation.  We made First Born call and apologize to my dad, who bought the tickets, and my brother who was sitting next to him listening to all his complaints. Then we sent him to bed.   I had to give kudos to my Hub, because what he said really set in. Hub told First Born, “I am not mad, but what you did made me sad and disappointed.”  This hit home, as only a father telling his son, he is disappointed in him, can.  First Born, said “I don’t know why I am so stupid and say stupid things.  I just can’t stop them from coming out of my mouth. I am sad that I treated Pop Pop and Uncle J that way.” I explained that he was not stupid but just has to think before he speaks.  It was a good lesson as he was made to understand what his words and actions do to other people.  That is my main concern.  That he recognizes those around him and how they are affected.    
It may be hard for an 8 year old NOT to be all self absorbed, but it is our job as parents to make sure they aren’t.  I am not doing a great job, but I am working on it. I made a new rule for dinner time.  We are not allowed to talk about the food, unless it is something nice.  I will have no more: 
“Eww, what is this?”   -  It is chicken without breading and don't use that tone!  
“Do I have to eat this?” - No, but you will be hungry, if you don’t because the kitchen is now closed.  
“I don’t like this/It’s too dry/too wet/ touching my other food/too bland/too spicy,”  - I don’t care!  You are lucky I cooked you a meal that we are all sitting down together to eat!  I bust my ass to make food and clean up food all friggin day long and you are going to complain!  GET TO YOUR ROOM!  
Then Hub and I, after many frustrated looks and grimaces to each other, glare at the boys, excuse ourselves and sneak outside to fight about confer and discuss the best way to handle the children.
We have stopped all these dinnertime frustrations.  We can talk about our day or any topic as long as it is not focusing on the food or the eating of the food.  It seems to be working, so far.  

The Little One who is only 4 seems to get it.  But he is just an easy going, don’t rock the boat, type.  (he is a lot like Hub, in that way)  Although when he wants something he has his Jedi mind tricks.   He was a premie and Little One and I both went through a lot just to get him here/keep him here.  He doesn’t ask for or demand much so when he asks “Can you pree-teck me when its time for sleepings in case I have a dream”  we tend to give in a little more than I did with First Born.  Or when he says “I sure like chippy’s and dippy’s. Mommy why don’t you put some out?” (chippy’s and dippy’s is Stacy’s pita chips and Yucatan guacamole, in case you were wondering)  I can’t help but put them out.  He may complain a little if we are going in from outside and he wants to stay out, or if we are not having macaroni and cheese for the 6th time that week, or if he can not watch Alvin and the Chipmunks.... again, but when you tell him ‘no’ he is pretty accepting and easy going. It may just be a personality thing.  
I love my boys.  I want them to be happy and confident, compassionate children that grow into happy and confident, compassionate adults.  NOT Spaulding Smails.
So any suggestions, comments, gaffaws, criticisms?  Have at it!   I am open to anything.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Father's Day to my Hub

He is my husband and the father of our children. But those titles do not do him justice. He makes our boys feel special and valued. Here are just a few of the reasons I pat myself on the back for marrying and having children with my Hub. 

He has shown me how to be patient with my boys.

He allows our boys to be the daredevils that they are and (most of the time) he proves my worrying wrong. 

He shows our boys what love looks like. 

He always strives to make our boys' day the "best day ever!" 

He is slow to anger/frustration and fast to recover from anger/frustration. 

He then apologizes for his anger or frustration if it is unwarranted. 

He makes sure our boys are safe, happy and cared for at all times. 

He tells our boys that they are his "best buddies." 

He recognizes our boys unique and different abilities. 

He talks to them about his childhood. 

He shows them that it is ok to be wrong or make a mistake. 

He shows them how to apologize. 

He never misses a little league, coach pitch baseball game and when our First Born is playing he watches as if the Phillies are in the world series. 

He cuddles with our Little One. 

He is very sensitive to our First Born's fears at bedtime and much more patient than I am. 

He introduces them to all kinds of music. 

He loves watching them belly laugh at the Three Stooges.

He will watch train videos ad nausuem with our boys. 

He will even purchase more train videos so that they can watch them when he is not home. 

He surprises them with stickers/hard hats/clip boards/"important papers" that he "finds" at work.

He explains to them when he is tired from working so much and tolerates it when they ignore his explanation. 

He enthusiastically takes them hiking and fishing and exploring. 

He will dig holes on the beach until it is unsafe for the general public to walk on said beach, just because the boys want more holes in the sand.  

He teaches them the value of hard work and doing things right the first time. 

He shows them the importance of being a true Philadelphia Sports fan, through thick and thin. No bandwagoners allowed! 

He not only allows but encourages them to be goofy. 

He demonstrates this goofiness daily. 

He gives me hugs and kisses in front of them. 

He makes me laugh almost as much as they do. 

He drives me crazy, in both the good way and the bad way. 

He loves me for the crazy that I am. 

He consistently shows our boys what an amazing father and loving husband looks like, every day. 

Happy Father's Day My Love!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Waiting on the Verdict and the Millstone

The trial of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Lynn, Edward V. Avery and James Brennan has come to a close. We are now awaiting the verdict. I followed the trial closely. There is a man named Ralph Cipriano who is a veteran reporter and one of 30 journalists accredited by the Philadelphia district attorney's office to cover the case. He has been reporting on the trial daily on his blog sponsored by the Beasly Firm.  I read his blog along with the articles in, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and the AP. Ralph's blog was by far the most concise, independent, and non biased account of the trial. I really respect his insight and his candor. Ralph raised many concerns about both the defense and the prosecution's cases. One being that the prosecution seemed to be a bit long winded, with so much evidence and information, that it may have been too much to digest, for the jury. The other being that the prosecution had hammered Msgr Lynn too hard on cross examination. In the words of (kopride) one of the commenters on his blog: "nobody likes rats, but if you watched a kid tie a string to a rat, and torture it for hours, you would start rooting for the rat." Yet another problem for the prosecution was their "smoking gun" - the 1994 list of pedophile priests composed by Lynn and ordered to be shredded by Cardinal Bevilacqua - was also being used by the defense. The defense was using it to show that Lynn was just a patsy, a scapegoat, and the real guilty one is, the conveniently dead, Cardinal Bevilacqua.

That was the defense's mantra all along. That Lynn had no real power to do anything to the pedophile's in the Archdiocese. Accept of course, recommend that they get treatment or hand them their assignment to the next unsuspecting parish. When parishioners wrote, called or sat down with Lynn and told their horrific stories to him, he had a hand written note in front of him, telling him, "Never admit to victims that there are other cases."  And he didn't. He never told these people that they were not alone. That Fr. Gana, or Dux, or Sicoli, or Avery or Brennan, had other victims who were suffering just like they were. He quietly listened, and told them that he would take care of it. Then did nothing. And more children suffered.

There are some things that the trial showed that hopefully the people in the pews will take notice of. Priests stand together. They make a vow of obedience to their superiors. They are moved higher in the ranks when they play by the rules and don't rock the boat. But, in the real world, if an HR manager had a file of 35 employees whom were accused of raping children, and some of them even admitted it; wouldn't the moral, legal and ethical thing to be done, would be, call the police? If the statute of limitations passed wouldn't you at least get these men away from children? Wouldn't a normal person tell parishioners to be extra careful and guard their children? Maybe even have some sort of counseling for the possible effected families? In the real world most would even risk losing their jobs to make sure that innocent children are protected from these monsters. But Lynn did not live in the real world. He lived in a much safer world. Mgsr. Lynn’s lack of compassion and empathy for the powerless and his reverence and awe of the powerful are what this trial has shown, (if nothing else.) The difference of him standing up to his superiors and speaking out for the victims (either by going to the police/parishioners/press/screaming it from the rooftops!) and someone in the secular community doing so is that HE would not loose his job/livelihood. HE is a priest and guaranteed a job, a home, food, a pension, insurance and PROTECTION! So he stood to lose NOTHING by standing up for what was right. For standing up and saying I WILL NOT STAND BY AND ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN UNDER MY NOSE. Not to mention that he is a PREIST and supposed to do that ANYWAY, regardless! That is his CALLING! SO I can feel no compassion for his decisions. I can feel no compassion for his situation. It was a lack of even a shred of courage. Because he did not stand to lose anything, accept, being in the good graces of his Cardinal.

Is what he did/didn't do criminal? In my opinion, Yes. Is what he did/didn't do immoral? Absolutely Yes. Will the jury come to the same conclusion? I really don't know. I would not be surprised if they didn't. But no matter what the outcome, the work of exposing the truth in the Catholic Church is not done. The light needs to be shown bright on everyone who knew and did nothing when children were being raped and tortured.

A newer story just surfaced. Cardinal Dolan, when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee and who is now cardinal archbishop of New York and head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, paid off pedophiles! What is better than moving a pedophile to another unsuspecting parish? Give him $20,000.00 and release him to the public with a clean record. Oh and cover his health insurance.  It makes me sick. Substantiated allegations of child rape and molestation were made against priests in Milwaukee. The solution in Cardnial Dolan's mind was to give them money to leave the preisthood. Hell, it was cheaper than paying all those victims and then the priests were not his problem. He could very biblically "wash his hands of it." After they paid off their "problem priests" they filed for bankruptcy so they would not have to pay the victims. Apparently this is the m.o. for most Archdiocese when faced with a lot of troublesome lawsuits against their brother priests.  They file for bankruptcy and then claim they don't have the money to pay the abuse victims. They then bounce back and are off scott free! All the while, the money keeps rolling in every Sunday. And for all those that still think that unscrupulous people are lining up for a payday; Fewer than 2 percent of sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic church appear to be false.

So I can not even venture a guess as to the outcome of the first Catholic official prosecuted and brought to a jury trial on criminal charges of endangering the welfare of children by failing to investigate and report allegations of child abuse. I hope it is just and swift. But I am not holding my breath. The next trial that will be like this one is coming up against Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. Interestingly enough, he is blaming Msgr. Robert Murphy, who is Lynn's counterpart in Kansas City. Lynn blames Bevilacqua, Finn blames Murphy.... NO one in the Church is taking responsibility. Everyone is passing the buck, closing ranks and protecting their own brother priests. Who is looking out for the vulnerable?

They better start listening to Jesus. He said, "'Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me; and whoever ensnares one of these little ones who trust me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the open sea! Woe to the world because of snares! For there must be snares, but woe to the person who sets the snare!..... See that you never despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually seeing the face of my Father in heaven." Matthew 18,5-11

Since they didn't listen to the big man, they better get their swim trunks and millstones ready!