Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Update: Spouse Abuse, the Sequel

The threat of violence in my wife's workplace seems to have meandered leisurely from Defcon "BOINGINGING" to Defcon "Ho hum." Apparently the abuser and the coworker are back together again. At least, that's the rumor. Incredibly, and in spite of their mutual legal restraints against each other, the two have reconciled and he has even purchased a ring for her. So, the abuser is currently far too busy being romantic to sneak into my wife's office and massacre everyone there.

Hah ha ha... yeah. It's not funny, is it?

I guess I always saw abuse as an issue between two people, sometimes more if there are children involved, but its a bigger issue than that.

I have lost a lot of respect for my wife's coworker. She's a smart woman and knows, somewhere inside of her, that unless this guy takes serious steps, he's going to hit her again. She knows this because it's happened before... with the same guy. So, what does she plan to do then? Does she vow to leave him again? Does she find a new apartment again? Does she stand before a judge and explain that the restraining order is really necessary... this time... again? Do we get more weeks of vague, but serious threats about the safety of the people in my wife's office?

Like I said, I've lost a lot of respect for my wife's coworker. The heart may want what the heart wants, but the brain knows better than to step in front of a speeding bus. As much as I hate to admit it, in addition to my lack of respect for her, I've also learned to despise the coworker. It's one thing to be stupid. It's another thing to endanger the people around you, because of your poor judgement.

If you're being abused, and according to statistics, some of you are... then get help. If you can't do it for yourself, do it for the people around you and their families.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Better Dadding: Blame the Day-Care

I have a hate/despise relationship with our son's day care. I know, I know, my expectations are all out of whack. I should try to remember the positive things, the good times.

Like, for example, on Monday when I picked up Chunk after lunch. I grabbed his "daily report" from his cubby and it was completely blank, except for the stuff I had written on it when I dropped him off. His room teacher informed me that they don't really write on it until nap time, because that's the only moment they can squeeze all of that in.

Now, I don't doubt her claim. There's fifteen or twenty maniacs in there and I'm sure it would be hard to keep up with all of the paperwork they have to do for all of the obsessive-compulsive, panic-prone parents (of which I am the president, now on my second term). But, they track everything on those forms. And, I mean everything! Here's the data I get every Monday:

1. Diaper changes and what they find in the diapers
2. How much the kids eat at snack and lunch and other snack
3. How long each child sleeps, down to the five minute mark
4. Shifting political views and how those changes relate to current events

If you don't write anything down until nap time, how do you remember what each kid did that morning? I don't remember how many times I used the potty in a day and I guarantee there's no way I could keep track of the habits and outcomes of twenty other people. How much did I eat during my morning snack yesterday? I don't know. Was it a cookie? Pretzels? For some reason I remember having pickle breath. Did I have a pickle? Where would I have gotten a pickle?

So, how do they remember all this stuff? Oh, I know... they make it up! That's right, it's all a lie. It's busy work they have to do, that they don't see as important, but parents come to rely on it. It's stupid. I don't really care if Chunk had fun with the water table. I know he has fun there, but I do want to know if he's eating. If he didn't poo on Sunday, I want to know if he went on Monday. They're minor things, but they're also minor things that can actually mean something. And, if you're going to do them, please do them right.

So, day care, until you stop slacking, I'm going to start blaming you for everything. Chunk's hitting and foot stomping phase? You got the blame for that. Yelling at me in Spanish? Yep, that's you too. Crazy obsession with the bathroom? You, day care, all you, baby! 101.3 degree temperature and open-water-main strength running nose? That's you, just like it's always you, every Wednesday night.

Oh, did I forget to mention the sickness? Yeah, once again, he's a germ-filled ooze factory. How do I know? Waking up every four hours to hear Chunk loudly tell me the Tylenol has worn off was one clue. Toddler vocabulary, being a bit limited, has a specific word for this issue and it sounds a lot like, "WAAAHHHH!"

So, day care, you get the blame. For everything. And, I'm recommending all other parents do the same. Is that this week's lesson? Actually, no, this is all a long-winded way for me to get to a more serious "Better Dadding" lesson. It's laying down the law.

I'm not a confrontational person. I'm easy going. I let things slide. But, this is about my son and the care he's receiving. I'll let the little things slide, but my limit for that is a lot smaller than my limit for other things. I'm not good at confrontation, but it might be time to talk to someone at the day care. The sicknesses? We've had that discussion and there's no solution, aside from maybe a plastic bubble. But, the daily forms and their inaccuracies are kind of important to me and something I should tackle. This week's lesson is aimed at me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get these mother-fing kids out of my mother-fing movie theater!

Dear Fellow Denver Parents,

I apologize for communicating with you like this, in a letter. I didn't get a chance to speak with you at the movie theater and I don't have your home number.

It was very nice seeing your family last Sunday. You seemed like very caring parents and your two boys, who looked to be about five years old and six years old, were very well-behaved and polite. If you've read my blog at all, you know how much Denver Mom and I enjoy going to the movies and how seldom we get to see them, so I appreciate your children being quiet during the film.

Unfortunately, I did have one problem with your appearance in the theater. You see, we all know that the plot of "Snakes On A Plane" is fairly preposterous. Actually, that was why Denver Mom and I went to see it. Tired from a long, hard weekend with Chunk, when we got a chance to get away for a while, we wanted to do something that didn't require much thought and "Snakes On A Plane" seemed perfect in that role. I suspect that it was some of the draw for you and your family, as well. However, in buying our tickets, we did notice that the rating of the film was "R," which given the scares in the movie, seemed pretty appropriate.

Please understand, I'm not telling you how to parent. I just want to remind you that your five and six year old boys are at an impressionable age. I'm not sure if seeing passenger jets filled with snakes and bloated, grey corpses is the best entertainment for your boys. Bite wounds? Puss-filled sores? Harsh language about snakes? It was entertaining, yes, but not what I'd normally use to replace Thomas and Friends.

Maybe they get it. Maybe they have a keen understanding of what is reality and what is fantasy, and this sort of thing doesn't bother them, but I'm 35 years old and some of the imagery and situations, as wimpy as it makes me sound, gave me the creeps. Remember the little boy, about the age of your boys, facing his own morality? I remember it. It was the hardest part of the film for me. I suspect your boys remember it too.

I hope you had fun at the movie. I hope your sons also had fun and didn't wake up all week, crying from nightmares. I've met some great, well-adjusted kids who could see a movie like this one and just shrug it off. I've also met some kids who couldn't. Which type are your kids? I hope, for their sake, you considered that before you bought your tickets.

Again, keep in mind, I'm not trying to tell you how to parent. When our toilet was being replaced, I took Chunk (about 9 months old at the time) to see "Flightplan," but had him wrapped up and sleeping during the film, with the exit close in case he woke up. So, is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Frankly, I don't know. Our pot is silver and our kettle is white with flowers on it, so while that particular saying doesn't work for us, I do understand how easy it is to be a hypocrite. I just want to remind you that being a parent is about making choices. And, some of those choice are important. If you knew that going in, I applaud you for being so thoughtful and taking your job as a parent so seriously. I also applaud you for knowing your children so well that you knew how they'd react to a movie like this. If you didn't, I hope you had a chance to reflect on the responsibilities of parenting when that one snake was chewing on that guy's wang in the bathroom.


An Irritating, Know-It-All Fellow Dad In Denver

To the Readers: So, how was "Snakes On A Plane?" It really dumb, but Denver Mom and I had a great time seeing it. Keep in mind our last movie outing was to see "Silent Hill," so our standards are pretty low.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th

September 11th is a strange day for a lot of people. I've read a few posts from a couple of parent-bloggers that reflected on some of their personal experiences of the terrorist attacks five years ago and its shocking how close to the surface so much of that emotion still is, even years later. There were many people who were deeply wounded on that day.

There isn't much I can add to the many remembrances being recounted on the internet. I've never been to New York or Washington, D.C. or the plains outside of Pittsburgh. I didn't know anyone who was injured or lost five years ago, and like a lot of Americans, most of my memories of the attack came to me via the television, not from first-hand experience. But, I can say, as terrible as that day was for a lot of Americans, I experienced it in an incredible way.

I was at a training conference in the mountains. There were just a few of us from Colorado with the rest of the participants were from all over the country. The conference was a team-building/history/brain-washing session for the organization I was with at the time and we were scheduled to be in the mountains for a week, learning about ourselves, each other, and how we could all make the world better. It was every bit as dull and shallow as it sounds. Then, one morning during breakfast, someone came into the cafeteria and announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center buildings. I asked which one. He said both of them. I asked him what happened. He didn't know, thought maybe a pilot got drunk or went crazy or something.

We all had to hike a mile down the road to a small snack shop to find a television. About a hundred of us crammed inside that tiny, cheesy shop and watched as the buildings collapsed, silently, some of the people crying, others trying to make phone calls, most of us just confused and overwhelmed by what we were seeing.

Our trainers didn't know what to do. They eventually decided to keep going with the training, but cancelled some sessions that first day and found us a television we could watch. No one knew what happened. When the training sessions started up again, a lot of us skipped them and just watched the news, obsessively, from six in the morning until midnight, sometimes staying up a lot later.

Before the attack, there was a party every night, afterward, the drinking was hushed and somber. There was a lot of crying that week. There was a lot of anger. There were a lot of questions about how people were going to get home from the training.

No one could have predicted what was going to happen when the training was being planned, and at the same time, no one could predict what it would be like to have two hundred strangers from all over the country experiencing these unimaginable attacks, holding hands, hugging, helping each other handle the emotions. It was amazing. I wish I could articulate why, but being surrounded by people from all over the country, every one of them as confused and concerned as the person standing next to them, was very profound and very powerful. Our last night together, we all stood up and sang the national anthem. The hugs afterward felt real, even from people whose names were just barely in focus.

A lot of people lost family on September 11, 2001. A lot of people lost friends. There were even some that lost hope. It sounds sacrilegious and uncaring when I say this, but in some ways, September 11th brought me hope. It was a difficult time, hard to be away from my wife when it seemed like the world was disintegrating, but I saw more strength and compassion in that crowd of strangers than I've ever seen before or since. It is still humbling to know, truly know, the character of my fellow Americans and their seemingly limitless bravery. Its such a tragedy that we can only catch glimpses of it in such horrible times. Or, maybe it is what makes those times more bearable.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Waiting With An Update...

Yes, I'm still here. No, I haven't been posting. We've got a big special event coming up this Sunday and it's been nonstop work for a while now, as we all get prepared. I'm hoping to be back and posting some time next week.

Until that time, do I have any wisdom to pass on? I've said it before, both here and on other blogs, but my job involves fundraising for a non-profit in Denver. I have some very strong opinions regarding the ethical responsibilities of accepting a gift from a person or organization and some very strong opinions about when and how you should support an organization.

In that capacity, I can only offer this advice... give to organizations that are important to you. Give to organizations that are doing, in your eyes, work that is important and necessary in your community. Don't give to groups that send you mailing labels, just because you feel guilty. Don't give to groups that are aggressive about asking for your support, just because you want them to leave you alone. Support the organizations that you believe in and want to succeed.

It should be said, "giving" isn't just writing a check. Not everyone can afford to give their hard-earned money to a non-profit, but time can be every bit as helpful and powerful to an organization that can use volunteers. If you can't write a check, or even if you can, volunteer a few hours. You may not get stuck with work that you find interesting, but the karma rewards are amazing.

I'll be back. If you've been dropping by, looking for a new post, I apologize for not having anything here for you. I hope to change that within a week.

Want to help me get started up again? How about suggesting a topic for posts in the comments section!