Nature vs Nurture

- This post was featured on HuffPo's {Parenthesis} and I couldn't be more blushy about the whole situation -

My daughter has this little friend at school, who's name doesn't matter, and he wants to hug her and squeeze her and keep her forever and call her George. I sympathize with him, I really do. I feel the exact same way about her most days. She's scrumdidilyicious. 

However, I still let her have friends. I don't bully the other little boy who also very much so loves her and wants to be in her company all. the. time. I don't intimidate her with threats if she defies my wishes or talks to other kids, and I don't lie to the teacher if she steps out of line, saying she said a bad word or hit someone so she'll be punished for making me angry. 

She's not afraid of me, is my point, but she sure as hell is afraid of Friend Who's Name Doesn't Matter. 

And it's really just depressing. I mean, she didn't even get to get drunk and meet this clown at some bar and project all her daddy issues onto him like it's her goddamn American right to. Oh no, he picked her out of the crowd like she was waiting prey.

Except she's not waiting prey. 

My mother used to warn me that the bad people could smell me coming. She said that they knew how to find the people like me, people who were weak, broken, vulnerable - that they could find us, and they would, and when they did they'd crush us. She told me to watch out for anyone who took an interest in me, because I was walking around with a target on my back. I wonder why I have trust issues. 

My daughter does not have trust issues. My daughter is the opposite of me in almost every way, because I did the opposite of what my mother did in almost every way. I whisper into my daughter's sleeping ear how amazing she is, how strong she is, how powerful she is. I read her Audre Lorde poems that sing of her strength as a woman and a child of the earth. I sing her my own odes of admiration and love. I tell her every chance I get that she is fiercer than the sun, and stronger than the ocean tides. And still, some little man-person with girl issues and cowboy boots who would certainly refer to her as woman if he only knew how to spell it comes along and tries with all his might to possess her. 

I must admit, it's slightly amusing watching him break himself against the rock that is her. 

But no matter how strong she is, and how secure she is, it is a total mindbleep (because I can't bring myself to say that word in a kid post. I'm losing my edge. I know it.) when someone you are totally emotionally invested in turns the tables over and exploits that investment for their own selfish gain. It's horrifying, watching my seven year old daughter have to navigate this pocket of humanity, watching the little heart I've so carefully guarded from any pain learn the hard lesson that people just ain't no good.

I am cautiously mindful of her reactions to this boy as the situation has progressed. I have tried to guide her decisions without injecting myself into the situation. Letting them have their own experiences, not projection of mine, is the hardest element of parenting I've encountered yet. I worry that she inherited my target along with my crooked toes and blond hair.  I worry that victimization is a recessive gene that you don't realize has passed on until conditions become optimal for it to manifest. I worry that it's instead something acquired through nurture, and that watching me waste the first seven years of her life trying desperately to please and/or appease a controlling, narcissistic alcoholic has told her that is what is normal and good and expected. 

So I watch her closely, I listen for the words I know all too well coming from her mouth that would tell me this boy is winning the battle against her sense of self. I never hear them. I hear honest words like, "I am afraid to tell on him" and "I care about him and don't understand why he cares about me all wrong" and I know that she doesn't have this thing that I have, this curse that keeps the amazing, brillant, powerful women in my family subdued by some man, some religious ideal, some terror of the unknown or the different or that which is difficult and brave. 

Today I was going to go into her classroom to speak to the teacher about Friend Who's Name Doesn't Matter on her behalf. Today, I had found my limit, had enough, decided that she wasn't able to carry this burden any longer. Today I also had a gazillion deadlines, so I didn't go in. Turns out, she did get one thing from me - her line in the sand. Today was her breaking point too. Today he pushed too far, and she pushed back. 

And he backed down. 

He treated her with some goddamn respect. 

He was even kind(ish) to her other little super sensitive man-child-friend. 

And I am so proud of this woman-becoming, who is teaching me more than I will ever in a million years teach her.

God Used Fire, Brimstone, and Floods. I Use Sally Hanson. Same Effect, Really.

I let my middle son watch me wax the 'stache tonight and I think I may have traumatized him more than the kid I let watch me give birth.

Since the Dad 2.013 Movember team STILL hasn't seen far enough passed their stupid patriarchy to invite the 25th sexiest dad blogger of all time* to join their team, I figured I'd better deforest ye old kisser I leave in a few days for a blog trip with Simple Human. You know, best lip forward and all. 

Aside: Apologies in advance if you follow me on twitter, because my Type A and Squirrel! are about to collide in 140-character intervals. Me, two days, SIMPLE HUMAN. Organized, highly functional, and shiny? Organized and orgasm are almost the same word for a reason, my friends. 

So my son comes waltzing into my bathroom like it's Grand Central Station right after I've applied the first glob of wax on my face because Newton proved that children are physically incapable of coming in right when I've squirted the first bit of toilet bowl cleaner in. Instead they are forced, by powers beyond their comprehension, to wait like a lion in the grass for the most idealically uncomfortable moment to strike - the one in which I am totally helpless to avoid scarring them for the rest of their lives.

At least there aren't tampons involved anymore. 

So he comes in singing Peanut Butter Jelly Time with no shirt on, because, and stops cold. Mom, what the H are you doing? he kind of asks, kind of demands. Glass houses, dancing queen. Glass. Houses. I'm waxing, I explain to him, and he says that he thought I was JOKING all this time but I assure him, oh no, if he's lucky, he'll take after his momma in the facial hair department. He asked if it hurt and I said like a bleep-fo, and he said OOOO, CAN I SEE? and I said yes, because. 

I rip the wax off my lip and he jumps five inches backwards. His whole face went into buttchill-spasms. It. Was. Awesome. 

I don't think anything in the whole entire world will create the deep-rooted respect, admiration, and abject fear of women in a man-child that letting him watch a woman give birth does, but I'm pretty sure that letting them watch a woman wax for a business trip comes in a close, and slightly less awkward in their teen years, second. 

He asked why I would do such a thing to myself, and I told him it was partly to look professional and put together on my trip, but mostly so that I could play with all the hairs sticking straight up in the wax, and then we had our Biore Pore Strip on Crack moment together.

Normal Rockwell would have killed to be a fly on my bathroom wall today, I tell you what. 

MIT Also Has An Origami Class. I Want To Go To MIT When I Grow Up.

Last night I dropped the kids off at soon-to-be-ex's and soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law's house, which is the same place, for their weekend sleepover with their dad. I normally just drop them at the door and go, but I knew STBESIL was home because I could smell food that wasn't spaghetti cooking, so I came inside. 

Informational aside: Baby daddy can cook exactly two things. One of them is spaghetti. The other has artichoke hearts in it, so I pretend it doesn't exist.

Anyway, I ended up staying for about two hours, having dinner with them and watching a bit of tv. Before you go judging me for my epic soon-to-be-ex fail, let me point out that A) before all of this divorce nonsense, STBESIL was one of my very best friends on earth B) I, literally, have no friends here at all and the only adult human contact I have at all, ever, is with parents at the bus stop for all of a wave and a shouted good morning, and C) I don't have tv, only netflix. I am a weak woman who needs love, and NBC, so I stayed. 

Apparently there is a game show called Minute To Win It that all the kids these days are into. Have you seen this? People get 60 seconds to perform random stunts and each stunt gets them closer to One Me-eaallion Dollahs. They aren't eating spiders or riding bikes across tightwires like on Fear Factor, instead they're pushing dixie cups off of a table with a blown up balloon or bouncing seven pencils into seven cups off their erasers. It is the greatest stoner game show alive.

We're wathcing this and all I could think was, "Man, someone gets paid caaash money to think up these ridiculous stunts", but the more I watched the more I realized that they aren't ridiculous, there's actually a lot of science behind them. I realized that it can't be just anyone making these stunts up, it's got to be someone who understands physics, trigonometry, human behavior, and rushing a frat. 

And that's when I realized they named this show *entirely* incorrectly. It shouldn't be called Minute to Win It, it should be called "MIT, You Are Drunk." I would watch the shit out of THAT show.

We don't have cable because, you know, single mom/single income and all. I only really ever watch Dexter, Homeland, and The Daily Show, and Everybody Hates Chris anyway. TV kind of gets on my nerves, mostly because soon-to-be-ex is an "every tv in the house all day, every day, even when we're all sleeping" kind of guy. Same reason I don't drink wine anymore. He drank enough for all of us. I'm completely burnt out on TV and I don't really have the money to waste on 200 channels of there's nothing on, so I just didn't get cable when I moved. We watch Netflix or RedBox movies or nothing, and it's worked out really well up until, you know, the electorial season and Shotime season kicked in at the exact same time and I AM MISSING ALL THE GOOD THINGS. 

I am also missing football season so, you know, it balances out. 

 

I Won't Even Pretend Like There's Point Enough Here to Warrant a Title.

I was prepping myself to point and laugh at all of you suckers who have to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night because neener neener! We don't have to here! but then I realized oh.

Right.

I live in Arizona. So.

We really don't set clocks ahead or behind like everyone else does and trying to figure that out is a lot like trying to count to the last number or see all of the stars and it just makes my head hurt. I like to imagine that the Arizona Powers The Be simply said, "You know what? Screw this noise" and opted out of daylight savings but I'm sure there's some much more logical explanation that has to do with the staaaaars and the dessssssert and peyote spiiiiiiritualism or some crap. 

I've never really understood why everyone complains so much about daylight savings. It always happens on a Saturday, so the only people who are actually hurt by daylight savings are the closers at the bar (And cops, and firemen, and nurses). Everyone else can shove it. There is nothing worse than gearing up to yell last call and flip the house lights and turn on The Roots and having your boss remind you that nope, when it's 2 am, it's really 1 am so keep'm pouring, woman.

The only thing that should, could, make up for this cruelty to waiters is Springing Forward. Balance dictates that we *should* get to close shop an hour early when daylight savings ends, but oh no. They had to decide to push the clocks around at the exact same time the bars close, so not only don't you get to close an hour early, you get to stay at work until just about SUNRISE. 

Because none of us have children to go home to, oh no.

There is no justice in the world for servers. Tip well, my friends...especially on Saturday night. 

I sometimes wonder how long it will take me to stop saying "we" when I refer to people in the service industry. I haven't occupationally waited a table since, gosh, the spring of 2008? There was that one night that one of my clients demanded that I wait on a bunch of Chinese Communists in New York City, but that was actually kind of amusing in a "Oh, patriarchy, you so crazy" kind of way, and I drank their Caymus later. 

I do mean all of it. 

Ouch.

It occurs to me that a few people reading this blog now might not even know that I was a lifer-waitress, and quite happy as such. Everyone is good at something, and I am an exquisite cocktail server. I can sling eggs, too, I just like cocktailing better. I can't remember names, but I can tell you exactly what you drink for an embarrassing amount of years later. I think this is why I can never find my keys. My head is stuffed full of his double jack and coke and her gold margarita no salt to ever be able to retain any additional information. I need a restaurant purge of the frontal lobe of my brain, and maybe I'll be a more efficient human being. 

Maybe I will also stop having the dream where I show up to work with no apron and I haven't closed out my drawer from the night before and no one has caught on to either of these facts yet so if I just hack the Aloha system and steal someone's apron while they're out back smoking, everything will be okay. Except we're out of cornbread muffins and remodeling so the front door is now out by the gas pumps and waiting tables dreams are weird. 

But I loved it, I really did. It was fun, I made good money, and I had a lot of time to just be home with my kids. It kept me in amazing shape, I'm realizing now that I have a job at a desk that doesn't keep me in amazing shape. Why the hell have I gained 40 pounds since I turned 30? Oh, maybe because you don't walk 50 miles a day carrying a 20 pound tray of drinks in a skirt, brainy smurf.

I'm great with people in 85 minute increments. I can have deep, meaningful, lasting relationships with people inside the vortex of my section. I was the queen of regular customers. More of my tables were 'my' customers than were not, because I knew them. I knew what they drank, I knew how their kids were wasting their lives, I knew what books they liked and how they preferred their cigars trimmed. I knew their spouses and their employers and their intimate details. I was their best friend, for a little under two hours, and then I vanished. I made them feel cared for and then I went away. I was their mommy and their wife and their daughter and then I was nothing. I was their attachment disorder. 

Maybe that's what I like about blogging, that it call all just vanish, that I can just vanish. I need that in my lilfe, the ability to just *poof* be gone. All I have to do is flip this lid closed and I don't exist. It's wonderfully dysfunctional, social media. It's social in the most anti-social way possible. It's completely on our own weird little self-interested terms.

And it does not keep you in amazing shape. But you don't smell like garlic and hops after, so there's that. 

The Seven Year Itch

I kind of already committed to failing at NaBloPoMo on Twitter tonight, and I know that sentence is horribly arranged but I hated it the proper way and that's why I'm toying with the idea of NaBloPoMo and not NaNoWriMo. Also because I'm not in Denver with my National Wine Drinking While We Claim to be Writing Novels Month partners Andy and David

I'm laying in my bed dousing myself in all the oatmeal based lotion I can get my dry, cracking hands on because I'm totally allergic to everything about Arizona, and sometimes this presents in my sinuses, but sometimes it present on my forearms, which right now look like they survived the zombie war. I've starting itching on the inside. Like, my internal organs itch. It is the most awful thing I've ever felt, and I've had three people pry their way out of my lady bits. 

So I'm laying in bed itching and itching and lubing and itching and all I can think is that I should be writing a post because I can't be that jerk who doesn't fail because they don't try, can I? I miss blogging, really. In January this puppy will turn eight, and I am finding that year seven has been the toughest blogging year yet, partly because I've said everything at least once already, maybe a little bit because I get distracted by tweety objects, but mostly because they kids, they are growing. They are hard to write about. They are hard to parent

It's a good kind of hurt, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade it for the world but right now I have a 14 year old without a bedroom door because he decided, once again, to have a dick-swinging contest with me and if I know any one thing about raising kids it's that I cannot, for one second, show weakness or they will exploit it to their ultimate gain. All I've got protecting my position over here is my grandmother's conch and a philips head screwdriver. 

I've been thinking a lot about all the things I don't talk about in this space - deep, personal issues that stem far beyond my relationships with my kids, my family, or my loved ones. I haven't really talked at all about the things that make me the me I am today, my foundation, my core believes, fears, and opinions. I can't imagine that sharing any of that would leave me any more vulnerable that everything I've shared in the past seven years and ten months has, but for some reason the ideology scares me more than the actuality. 

Maybe it's because I am a Pisces and it's really hard for us to say what we feel. It's really hard for us to decide what we think. We make for terrible dates. 

Maybe it's smart - I've always said that I've held back hose last layers of me for my book I will never write, sorry nice agent lady, and in theory that's an incredibly savvy plan I accidentally hatched, except that this is the forum I am most comfortable in and I don't know if I have enough for both of them. This is my home, and you all are the neighbors I'll have over for beer and guitar around the fire pit while we talk about our lives' paths. If anyone is going to hear about the crazy cult or my hood pass, it's going to be you. And yet, I can't bring myself to do it. I can't say those words yet. 

Einstein said once, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it." I can't explain me simply. I can't explain my children simply. I can't explain a whole lot of what is going on in the world simply right now, and that makes me realize that I really just don't know jack yet, but I'm itching to.  

Or maybe it's the desert pollen.