Saturday, September 29, 2007

Overindulgent, Irresponsible Parents!

I was out for a leisurely Sunday lunch today with my very close friend Julie. We got to talking, as we are apt to do, about family and our kids etc. The conversation always somehow gravitates to her nephew Dario and how unlikable a young man he is at 14. He's never been a likable child unfortunately. Partly due to the fact that children are like people that way, and aren't always nice people, and partly due to the fact that he's been raised by her parents in the most overindulgent fashion imaginable. "Guess what", she says to me, "Dario has been doing as of late?" To my raised eyebrows she replies, "now that he's such a large guy, he'll get up in front of my parents, chest all puffed out, towering over them, voice lowered and ask 'what did you just ask me to do?' I shook my head and said ~ sadly ~ "they created that monster", to which she wholeheartedly agreed.

I understand why Julie's parents felt they should shield and protect Dario from the big, bad world, but it just isn't acceptable to be so irresponsible; to ruin these budding humans and unleash them on society is wrong, and should be illegal quite frankly. We are not allowed to abuse children, but we are allowed to ruin them as potentially decent human beings. How, I ask, is this ok???

Julie's parents inadvertently ruined 2 humans. The first was Dario's dad. They had 2 little girls and wanted a boy. Rather, they thought, than to leave it up to nature, they would adopt. There were, after all, so many babies in need of good homes. The road to hell is paved with good intentions isn't it? The adoption agency suggested that they adopt a Native Indian baby, as there were so many in need of loving families at that time. So with all sorts of love in their hearts and hope in their naive minds, they brought home a 9-month Indian boy to raise as their own. When I met Chris I was 13 and he was 9. Julie and I had met in homeroom in Grade 8 and became fast friends. We were outside in the backyard, and her dad came out holding $5.00. He asked if it was mine. Yes it was, I told him. Even at my young age, I could see the sad defeat in his eyes. He explained to me that when I visit their home, I cannot leave my purse unattended or Chris would steal from me. Matter of fact, just like that, the rules of visiting this home were that you did not bring anything you were not prepared to guard. Fetal alcohol syndrome was a new diagnosis at that time, and this is what doctors believed Chris suffered from. This along with A.D.D. and antisocial personality. This child was a mess, and they were ill-equipped to deal. The home was ruled by Chris to say the very least. The family spent one day a week in counseling and they just tried to keep the peace; it's all they we able to do.

Chris became a heroin addict, in and out of prison. He eventually got the Dominatrix prostitute he was dating pregnant. They were both addicts and completely incapable of raising a child, though they did try for a short time. When Chris went back to prison and mama couldn't handle it anymore, Julie's parents adopted Dario and attempted to raise him as their own, determined that he be a better adjusted human than his dad.

From the day Dario came to them, it was apparent that things were going to go horribly awry. The world revolved around this child. He was the favoured one, the 'little king'. When he didn't like going to school, they took him out and home schooled him. When the other kids didn't like him because he was a little prick, he cried discrimination and the grandparents bought it hook, line and sinker. They kept him away from those 'horrible kids' and took him shopping and to Disneyland as often as possible. If he wanted it, he got it because they loved him and they wanted him to know it. There was not one iota of discipline. Ever. If Dario was to visit anyone else's home, that home was not to have a drop of alcohol, as it makes Dario upset. The world was a haven for Dario. uuuggghh! Now Dario is getting older and the real world is calling! My money has it that he'll be in prison in the next 3 years.

This is an epidemic, this type of overindulgent parenting. Children need boundaries. They need consequences, not corners to sit in when they're bad.

I am an old school parent; corporal punishment and all. I have three teen aged boys who are to date, very well behaved for the most part. I have asked them if they feel that I was too hard on them. They have said no, they respect my parenting style and intend to follow my lead. This makes my heart big and fuzzy, the codependent, insecure human that I am.

My oldest son got spanked. Often. He liked to test his boundaries and was put right back in his place. My middle son was spanked once or twice. A stern look and the knowledge of an unpleasant consequence kept him in line. My youngest son has never received a spanking. He never needed it. Consequences and the knowledge that mama was pissed was more than enough to keep him on the right path. Not all kids need punishment, but some do. Once, when they they were little and wouldn't clean up their stuff, I gave them a half an hour. I said if they didn't have everything put away, it was going in the garbage. A fair amount of stuff went in the garbage. They cleaned up their stuff from then on. Once, when my oldest wouldn't get dressed to go out after having asked him nicely like 15 times, I put him in the car in his underwear. I took clothes along and got him dressed after about 2 miles, but he got the point.

I was given a book when I had my first. It was called Parenting Isn't for Cowards, and it was the best parenting book ever written as far as I'm concerned. This book taught me so much about kids and their craving for boundaries.

In this day and age, parents are so busy talking to their kids. Apparently saying no fucks up their self-esteem...speaking of which, there are no winners or losers. WHATTHEFUCK?? NO WINNERS OR LOSERS? Are you kidding me??? Society is raising a bunch of humans who believe that all the world revolves around them, that they are all equal. They don't fail a grade when they can't read or write, and it's ok to talk back to their parents, because they are just 'expressing themselves'. They are princes and princesses who can do no wrong, and if mama has enough of their smart mouth and whacks them one, they just have to call child protective services and have them arrested. What happens to these people when they grow up and enter the real world? When they're told NO and expected to actually succeeded in their job. When they get fired for not doing well and it isn't just considered 'learning at their own pace'.

I am not a perfect parent and don't profess to be; but I am deeply concerned by this new age tra la la parenting style. I am frightened.

Last weekend my hunky hubby's uncle ~ who is one year older than him ~ came to visit with his son, who turned 19 on Saturday. We all went out for sushi and then to a lounge where we proceeded to get regrettably drunk. We were having a great time and brought home some friends to help us bring up the sun. Hunky hubby said to his cousin "isn't it cool that you can party with your dad legitimately now?", to which cousin replied "sometimes I just wish my dad was more my dad and less my friend".

'nuff said!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wow, an award!

Well I just learned that MPJ over at A Room of Mama's Own nominated me for this Break Out Blogger award! How cool! Thanks MPJ, you brightened my day :>

Today would have been brother/hero's 42nd birthday and this is the day that I allow myself unabashed, self indulgent woe is me self pity, as I mentioned in my previous post. On top of that, my period decided to make a 2 week early appearance today, because it was 2 weeks late last time...perimenopausal much?? GEEZ!! I'm only 30 fucking 8!!! Ironically, I look younger than my 38 years, but I am almost completely gray and now this. Whatever!

So MPJ, thank you for making a stupid day better! I started this blogger journey as a way to vent my rather unorthodox irks and frustrations, without any real intention of an audience. I now find myself honored and hopeful that people might actually enjoy reading my humble blog.

And on another note:
Happy birthday brother, I hope you're at peace wherever you are. I love you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mourning My Loss

September is a hard month for me. It would have been his 42nd birthday coming up, my brother, my hero. Today, on this day of mourning for so many, I am almost forced to answer my subconscious prior to that day that I normally would reserve for being allowed to grieve openly and with reason. That day is September 25th, his birthday; exactly 3 years and 6 months to the day from my birthday. I don't know why that matters, but somehow it always seemed to. We were both due on the 15th and both born on the 25th, 3 years and 6 months apart.

Today I feel compelled to pour this out. Maybe it'll help...

He was a happy child, a pleaser, full of life. He had bright blue eyes and blond hair and he was bestest big brother in the world to a little brown-eyed blond haired admirer. No, that little girl was more than an admirer; that girl ate catchup and mustard sammiches 'cause Ronnie told her it was yummy. She ate dirt pies 'cause Ronnie told her to. He called her his 'little baby mountain climber' because she would not give up. If he was climbing that hill down the street, the one we used to sled down in the winter, she was climbing it too....'wait up Ronnie!' Nothing was good enough without his ok. He taught her to tie her shoes, endlessly going over the process till she finally thank god, GOT it! He taught her to swim ~ well, forced is more like it; she wasn't getting it, so in his infinite 10-year old wisdom, he pushed her in the deep end and alas, she could swim! He taught her to say, properly and without a lisp at the age of 2 1/2, the words 'truth or consequences'; this was mom's favourite game show and she wasn't saying it right! He protected her fiercely, but toyed with her endlessly, exercising his right of all older siblings everywhere since time immemorial.

And even after she awoke one 4 a.m., climbed out of bed and her ankles were grabbed by 'the boogie man'...even after they both got the strap for all the commotion she caused after being grabbed by said 'boogie man', she trusted him. With her life. Even after he 'accidentally' shot her in the ribcage with a bee bee gun, she trusted him... oh how she loved...adored him!

A poem by Ronnie, written at the age of 7;
My Sister:
My sister loves me.
When I put on my shoes, she gets her shoes and asks where are we going? She won't eat unless I eat. She won't lay down at sleep time unless I lay down with her. She only eats what I eat and she won't go anywhere unless I hold her hand. My sister follows me everywhere.
I love my sister.
The end

Not long after, our lives changed. Mom could no longer live with a husband who was fucking everything that moved and had became so abusive. While he was at work, she left. She took brother and sister on a plane and flew 3,000 miles away to visit her brother, with whom she was not nearly as close. We set up home in a dingy apartment where Ronnie had to climb in and out of the window, because mom was only allowed to have one child. Ronnie became my primary caregiver at the tender age of only 8 years, because mom had to work to pay the bills, since dad had no intention of helping. Ronnie made sure I got to preschool and then home. He sat with me when I cried. He held me and told me we'd 'all be ok baby mountain climber, don't worry'.

We were not ok.

It turns out Ronnie was severely dyslexic. In the mid '70's the school system was incompetent when it came to this particular disorder. Gramma and auntie thought mom was just too overwhelmed with TWO kids to take care of on her own. Perhaps she would be better off if it was just her and the girl. And besides, a boy needs a father figure, so maybe Ronni should come back here, 3,000 miles away and live with Auntie Joan and Uncle Bob; newly married Christians who had a nice home near a nice school and could give Ronnie everything he needed.

Nobody asked me! Mom was too stupid, nay naive, to understand the wrongness of it all. Mom took Ronnie out for lunch ~ nobody asked me!!! ~ and asked him what he thought of the idea of living with Auntie Joan and Uncle Bob. It would only be temporary after all. Mom wanted to give Ronnie the choice, the grown-up little man he was. Ronnie thought mom just wanted to have him gone. Ronnie was a pleaser. He thought he was pleasing mom when he said 'sure, that sounds ok'. That was that. I essentially became an only child at 5 years old. My mom has said so many times over the years, 'if Ronnie had been like you, he would just have said no'. She always thought that by giving him a choice, he understood that she wanted him, but this was something that might be good for him. Silly mom...

We saw each other twice a year. He still protected me fiercely and loved me deeply. There was never any doubt of that. But it wasn't the same. Living apart hurt me. It hurt him!

Ronnie was 15 the first time he got in trouble with the law. He stole a car with his friend. He told me later that he and his friend had thought they'd drive it to see me and mom! He ended up in a group home. He ended up on drugs. He went to jail when he was 17 ~ before they had the Young Offender's Act.

It hurt me so deeply. It cut right to my sole. He was supposed to come back and live with us one day, not go to fucking jail! That was not the plan goddamn it! I cried and cried. He told me not to worry we'll 'all be ok'. We were not ok. I wrote him as much as possible. I lived so far away! We visited the family for a month every summer and that was when I could go see him. It was obscene getting on that bus with all the other visitors, riding 3 hours each way, and being searched by nasty security guards, all so I could see my hero. It tortured me to see him there. I cried all the way there and all the way back home. It changed me.

He was punished to the full extent of the law for using a toy gun to rob convenience stores. More importantly he was punished for not naming his partners in crime; he spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. They shaved his head and broke his jaw (and in my mind, his spirit). They beat him repeatedly. He wouldn't talk so he got beaten. 4 long, lonely years in medium security prisons in Ontario. He kept telling me don't worry we'll 'all be ok'. We were not o-fucking-K!

Thank god, things seemed to be going the right way when he was released. He had grown into a beautiful, 6' 4" man with a plan. A hilarious, gregarious magnetic man. He was my big brother, my hero, all grown up and ready to face the world. He found a beautiful girl to marry. We were able to see each other more. It was all going to be ok after all. We got through the hell, but now we were grown and we could make our own choices.

One summer he came to visit me and my growing family without his beautiful wife. Sadly, 4 years after marrying, they were now separated. I was sad for him, but he seemed ready to make positive changes. More importantly, one of those changes was to finally move here! He was going to finally come home and be close to me. We had so much fun that trip. Through all our hell, Ron was always 2 things; incredibly funny and incredibly talented. He was the funny, quirky artist. My oldest boy was 9 months and I was due to give birth to my second in 8 weeks. We got great pictures of Uncle Ronnie and baby Jake and had the best visit ever!

A couple of my favorite stories about that particular visit:

~ My ex husband decided to take Ron target shooting, because he was a redneck that way. They went to buy ammo and Ron bought way more than necessary. After it was packaged, he put it under his arm, turned on his heels, looked at my ex and said very loudly ' to the Embassy then!' My ex laughed till he peed; I still can't help but smile through the tears at that story.

~ Ron asked me to stop at the drug store. I pulled up out front because there was no parking. He came sprinting out the doors toward the car yelling 'GO,'. I spewed coffee out of my nose I laughed so hard!

There are so very many memories, but for some reason ~ maybe because it was our last visit ~ those two are my faves. He was so relaxed, and he had plans! Soon he was going to be near me, right where he belonged. We were 'all going to be ok' after all.

Turns out we were so far from ok, I can't even see ok from where I am!

I will never get over that day in February 1993. My 6-month old baby had wriggled off his change table and landed on his back. I was feeling like a huge failure as a mother. I finally got my son calmed and put him down for a nap, and then my phone rang. My husband was sleeping, having worked the graveyard shift. I ran to grab the phone before it had a chance to wake him. What came from the other end of the line was the voice of my dad. All he could say was 'Ronnie's dead'. He was sobbing. The feeling accompanying those words is with me today, right now, clear as day.

After the 2.5 seconds it took me to register those words....'Ronnie's dead';
dad is that you? do you mean our Ronnie? MY Ronnie? What? WHAT??? NO, HE IS NOT, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?????

'He's dead honey. They found him with a bullet in his temple on the train trestle. He was alive when they found him, but....

Who knew that we really ultimately have no control over our limbs. At least I didn't at that moment. My legs no longer worked and there were no bones in my body...I collapsed. All I could see was black. All I could hear was the blood surging through my ears. I vaguely remember a sound; this sound my ex has told me, was a rather inhuman wail that scared him from sleep.

I will never be the same. I will never get over that loss. I try. I have tried for 14 years. I do not have the answer. I don't know what that means...get over it. How do you get over such a profound sense of missing. Something is missing and I can't find it! It huuurrrts. It aches so bad.

I hurt. I will always hurt.

The little girl in me screams. 'I miss you Ronnie...why did you have to leave me? Why did you always have to leave me???'

hmmm, nope I don't feel better.

I'm sorry for all those who have lost someone. It's not easy. It's never easy.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back to basics - Ranting

Ok, I've had it. I can't take it anymore. Parenting and pregnancy are NOT fucking handicaps! I know this because I have given birth to 3 boys,so I have been pregnant and I am a parent, so I get to speak from experience here. It is not a handicap. Period.

I'll qualify my frustration.

Back in the day, there were a few reserved parking spots for disabled ~ aka handicapped ~ people. That is to say, people with physical limitations. These spots saved said disabled from having to travel farther to the mall etc., so they would have more energy to move about the mall etc., once inside. Ok fine, but lets be honest here...usually people traveling with disabilities are accompanied by some device that enables them to travel freely; oft times, the device has wheels.

Fair enough, you have a disability, I defer. Happily. Cause I'm actually a nice person deep down, and karma is serious business.

These days, when I travel to my nearest shopping destination, I find that I am relegated to the very back of the lot. This is because I have the audacity to be young, healthy and without child! Today, when I pull into the lot it starts with the whole front reserved for those with handicap stickers, next are about 12 spots for seniors, then come the 'with child' ~ aka pregnant spots, and last but certainly not least and still in prime position to make it to the doors faster than most are parent with children parking. WHAT??!!!

I'm not even going to start with the pregnant parking, other than to say that pregnant women are able to take aerobic classes right up till they give birth. I have a friend who just gave birth last week; she went to kickboxing class twice a week until a few weeks before baby. Pregnancy is not a disability. However, I will defer to your decision to birth a child and give you preferential treatment. Cause I'm nice. I'm bitter, but I'm still nice.

However, I have officially drawn the line and I will dammit, park in the parent with children spot. I am a parent, so fuck you. AND even if I wasn't, parenting is not a bloody handicap. Most children are certainly well enough to walk on their own, and babies travel in strollers. WTF???? If you're that unhealthy that you can't walk the extra 20 feet to the store then perhaps you should be home in bed. Or in palliative care maybe?

I have no problem parking a mile from the store really. I always take the stairs. I'm healthy and active. It's the principal of the thing. Enough already!

Your choice to have children is not my problem. I didn't ask for special parking or get handouts because I chose to have babies, and I sure as hell don't need to be responsible for your choice to have babies.

I'm glad I got that one off my chest!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Self medicating

Well, it's official. Summer's over. Oh well, moving on to cozy fall. Likely we'll be jetting off somewhere hot sometime very soon, so I can look forward to that. Or can I? Hmmmm, this could be interesting...

In previous posts, I have disclosed my problems with anxiety. My particular anxiety comes in the form of feeling like I'm outside myself, trapped in my mind, tingly, numb and ready to scream or otherwise 'lose control'. This anxiety has become much more closely tied to my other problem; extreme and debilitating claustrophobia. I will walk 100 flights of stairs before getting in an elevator, although at times I do push myself, mostly when hubby's there for me to hang onto. Once, when I was working at the hospital a couple of years ago, I got stuck in the elevator for like 3 seconds and holy shit, I was LOSING IT!! This hospital is like 100 years old, with some upgrades. The elevator we were in was not an upgrade! It was like 4 feet by 4 feet and I got in with my colleague and two ambulance attendants. The elevator stopped mid-floor for a few seconds, and all I could feel was the prickly fingers of panic reaching out and clawing their way to my grey matter. The blood rushed to my head, my body went numb and I was screaming in my inside mind...I thought I might actually snap and break from reality, screaming and clawing to get out. Thank G*d the elevator started again when my colleague pushed the button a few times...what a completely helpless fool I am! How can someone be so together, successful and strong (at least that's what people tell me), only to be completely ruled by anxiety?? What the fuck is wrong with me? One can avoid small spaces if one tries hard enough. So ok, whatever...just don't do elevators. Problem solved, right? NO! The anxiety has decided to follow me outside the elevator shaft and hitch a ride on my subconscious. It likes to tease me throughout the day. Particularly when I'm not free to get up and go on my own. Sometimes when I'm driving with my boys it attacks out of nowhere...'ok bitch, what are you going to do if I come in now, while you're in charge of this vehicle with your boys watching. What then??'

When this anxiety slithers out from its hiding place and wraps itself around my brain, the only thing that helps, I swear to my HP, is alcohol; my preference being vodka. I have tried it all. The benzos, the pines, antidepresents.... EVERYTHING. I have adverse reactions to most drugs. Really adverse, as in Ativan causes panic; go fucking figure!! Not alcohol though! So I am in this nasty little habit of having a couple, few, sometimes a few too many vodkas at night to stave the day's anxiety and help me sleep. It's the only time I can fully relax. I hate to admit it, but it's the truth. The funny thing is that I consider myself what I refer to as a 'fully functioning alcoholic', but I can stop drinking no problem. I'm not dependent in the sense that my body craves it. I am dependent in the sense that it's the only thing that I can use to dial it down a notch when things get bad. I'm often not drunk, or even tipsy. It does for me what Ativan does for my hunky hubby and his similar anxiety issues. So for now, I self-medicate until I find the magic cure.

Back to my vacation plans. It's been 8 years since I've flown commercially. That trip was my aforementioned adventures in Mexico. It's been 8 years now, but I have flown commercially my whole life. We used to travel between BC and Ontario 4 times a year while I was growing up, as well as our varied other vacations. I loved to travel. I loved to get on a plane and end up somewhere new. Now, all of a sudden, the idea of being trapped on a plane with all those people for hours on end, unable to get out, suspended in the heavens; oh God, I'm paralyzed with fear. I have very little time to find a way out of this fear. I don't even think my trusty vodka is going to help me out of this pickle. Besides, I hear they frown on passengers who are pissed lol. Even as I sit here typing this, I am gripped with fear, numb, terrified anxious. Now I feel I must use my surfing time to find a cure, rather than whining about it.

Wish me luck!