WARNING...rant mode *on*
I have heard more whining in the last two days than I think in any other time since my divorce. Why is this, you ask? Because I've been hanging out in the Halloween aisles of stores, looking for decent treats (as a pagan I'm not usually home during Halloween/Samhain, but this year I happen to be) or costume additions. Ah, the nearly constant sound of "I'm tired", "I don't wanna", etc. The worst thing of all? None of it was from kids. It was from tired, cranky adults who for some, inexplicable reason decided to wait until the day or two before Halloween and then hit stores like Wal-Mart or Walgreens between work and dinner to see if they could find a costume for their little one. The kids, with the exception of one totally unattended boy who was pretending to be a basketball star up and down the aisles, were actually using reasonable tones. "Hey, mom, what do you think about ____?" "How would this look?" While I'm sure I'm being unfair to frazzled parents (after all, I'm not one and what could I know, having only been a kid?), the fact of the matter is this stuff has been sitting in those aisles since July. It's not like our area has been gripped by a sniper or something. It just wasn't something that they particularly thought ahead for. Poor planning like that wouldn't get them ahead in the business world. Why on earth should it work at home? The result of all this is no one enjoys themselves, which is part of the Halloween holiday as it is celebrated by mainstream America, and they just annoy the rest of us who are approaching it with more enthusiasm.
The fact is, life usually doesn't play out as smoothly as something coordinated by Martha Stewart. Hell, even Martha's finding that out. We all have days when we crack, and certainly I've had my share of them--you've read about enough of them. But see, there's a difference. I blog, but you have to actually check things out to hear me whine. And while I will admit I also have breakdowns around my friends, that's sort of one perk to having friends--and I help them pick up pieces on their bad days. But I don't inflict my anxieties, fears, troubles, frustrations, etc. on children. They've already got enough of their own to deal with and (usually) a lot less maturity and coping skills to get them through.
I mean, think about just about any scary situation for a kid. Divorce. A sibling's or parent's illness. A bully. Kids almost always assume that there's something that they did, that's wrong with them, because they've only been on the planet for a few years and don't see the bigger picture, especially if no one's telling them otherwise. So if a parent is frustrated because a boss has set an impossible deadline, money's running low, there's this or that practice to shuffle kids to, and oh, by the way, we have to get Halloween costumes for whatever school or social thing that always pops up at the last minute--well, the kid has no idea what's up, and either clams up or acts out worse.
If it seems I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, it's because I've been working for years to break myself of the habit for taking responsibility for stuff I had no control over while simultaneously absolving myself of the stuff that really is mine alone. I grew up a seething (yet relatively quiet) ball of anger, guilt, fear, and shame, and to be honest, I had parents who could have used some parenting classes but who weren't torturing me every moment of my existence or anything. I think part of it was I was so isolated from other kids, as an only child and moving around so much. I didn't know that my life could have been different, or that other parents were different with their kids. And I have no doubt that if I hadn't started working on those problems, and had gone ahead and had children when the opportunity arose, I'd have been one of those parents whining at their kids at the store. I'm so glad I'm not. Part of me would rather miss out on all of the wonders of having children rather than become that, not just because of my own dignity, but because of the children in the audience, the child essentially told that he or she doesn't matter compared to "all those other problems". Kids aren't problems. They're gifts, and challenges, all rolled up in one, regardless of their individual talents or deficits. I'm not sure I'm emotionally mature enough to meet that challenge. But I know that five to ten years ago it would have been far worse.
Last night I watched a news segment (I can't remember which show it was, probably Dateline) about a teacher in California who ran off to Vegas with her 14-year-old student lover. She was in the midst of a divorce and at an "emotionally vulnerable" time. Because she crossed state lines and had sex with a minor, she could have wound up in prison for life. Granted, she wasn't going to hurt him. But his parents had no idea where they were for four days--that must have seemed a lifetime. She's on probation as a convicted sex felon as it is. She admits she made some stupid mistakes. She obviously rationalised her way along (trust me, I know how that goes). She probably convinced herself that she was protecting or helping him. She's an extreme case, of course, and I could almost sympathise. After all, I've had a breakdown of sorts, and I certainly have made really bad choices, most notably in marrying an abusive sex addict, which while it wasn't illegal could have easily gotten me killed. She's about my age, too. But you know...there comes a time when you have to start accepting responsibility for your behaviour. I started this year. There's nothing special that makes me different in that I made that choice. Others can, too. But it seems that so many people just want the world to fix their lives, rather than let their lives help fix the world. I don't get it.
And while I'm on a rant about people who harm children...this was on the news when I logged in...Authorities search for priest on the run. Please don't think that by posting this I'm being anti-Catholic or anti-priest. I have great respect for priests and nuns. However, that respect is based on their vows, which include celibacy. That's just such a step most people never take. The thing is, regardless of what sexual orientation a person is, a vow of celibacy should be binding, and if it can't be, then that person should either not take the vow, or ask to released from it. Now, I do not see paediphilia as an orientation like homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality. There is nothing inherent in sex, colour, whatever that prevents two people from having a satisfying sexual, loving, relationship. And I acknowledge that there is a grey area of age, since people don't really agree on any "one" age of consent. In my own state you used to be able to marry a 12-year-old so long as the parent consented, for example. But, the fact is, minors do not have the emotional maturity to be in an equal partnership with those with years of experience behind them. Two fifteen-year-olds having sex is more about exploring new horizons, emotionally and physically. An older person, particularly one in authority, preying on a child is another thing altogether, particularly when there is a breach of trust. This is especially true when it is a parent, family member, teacher, counselor, priest, etc. That breach of trust seems to leave more lasting emotional damage than anything that may go on physically. The idea that this man apparently operated for years, shuffling back and forth, and never was removed as a priest--I can't fathom it, and it makes me angry, and doubly so that someone may be helping him. I once read a Newsweek article about a priest who had had one encounter with a 17-year-old, recognised that it was inappropriate, and resigned. He did retain his priest status, but not only did he remove himself from the minsitry, he basically imposed a self-exile on a mountain removed from the temptations and sought counseling. I have far more respect for him. He took responsibility for his actions. He recognised that he couldn't undo it, but he could seek forgiveness and prevent it from happening again. This fugitive priest got wind of the investigation, booked a cruise, then returned to the country only to disappear--and his victims were under 14.
What a world.
rant mode *off*
(Tomorrow, in honour of the holiday, I'll try to keep my blogging light and upbeat--promise. I think with the end of my DBT coming, though, these issues are just hitting closer to home because I'm doing some reflecting).