Tuesday, 21 June 2011

No, we're not Scientologists, either...

A couple days ago in my 'Bad' Parenting List post, I'd mentioned that the Vs will not be going to vacation Bible school (VBS).  Over the past few days I've had a couple notices put on my front door with an invitation for my kiddo to attend a VBS week at a local church.  As we're non-theist/atheist/Satan worshippers-by-default, I chucked them into the trash along with the rest of my junk mail, and pretty much put them out of my mind - Until Today (cue suspenseful music).

After getting Little V down for a nap and Vlad settled in with some Harry Potter, I started to do some virology homework.  When I glanced up from my computer, I noticed an official-looking dark sedan making its way down my driveway - and as any military wife can tell you, I instantly went cold all over.  I sat at the computer, unable to swallow or breathe, until the knock came at my door.  When Vlad ran to the door and announced "Hey, some old ladies are here!" I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost fell on the floor because my muscles, which had been rigid from head to toe, instantly relaxed.  It took me a second before I could answer the door.

Okay, the scary part's over :)

Anyway, I got to the door and opened it to see a couple ladies standing there (maybe a few years older than me, so thanks, Big V) smiling and holding Bibles.  Oy, vey.

Lady #1: "HI! WE WERE JUST CHECKING TO SEE IF YOU'D GOTTEN OUR INVITATION TO ATTEND OUR VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL IN JULY!"  I blinked. "Um, hello; did you used to be a cheerleader?"  Lady #1 flashed me a big smile, and if she hadn't been holding her Bible she probably would have given me spirit fingers. "WELL YES! HOW'D YOU KNOW?!?!?!?!?"  I smiled back and replied, "I'm a really good guesser."

Lady #2 cleared her throat. "We have a van that will be picking up and dropping off all the children, and they'll be given snacks along with their other activities. My children just love going every year!"  I gave her a patient smile and replied, "That's nice, and I appreciate the invitation, but we're not interested."  Both women looked a bit taken aback.  "Well, it sure is a lot of fun! We'll have games, and they'll do a craft each night, and they'll also get to participate in a play, which parents just love to watch on our final night!" #1 exclaimed.  "I'm sure they do," I replied, "but we don't go to church. Thank you for the invitation though."

At this point, most people would probably say "You're welcome, please call back if you change your mind," and leave.  However, these women apparently took my remarks as a challenge, and decided to proceed accordingly.

Lady #2: "Well, we do believe we have a calling by God to bring as many people as possible into His fold. May we come in and read to you a few verses that might explain a little better our mission here on earth?"  I shook my head. "No thank you; I'm really not interested, and I prefer to tend to my children's moral needs without interference from other organizations."

Lady #1 (cheerleader smile still in place): "Oh, but it's not just another organization! Our church has a great turnout every week, and we have people from all kinds of faiths that like to attend! It's really informal, our pastor's really young and our young people just adore him! We're open to all kinds of people, and one of the reasons we have such a large youth gathering is because we're a little more progressive than what you might be thinking of with more traditional churches."  #2 chimed in: "In fact, it might be a bit of a break for you, to relax and let the kids run around with a bunch of other kids and just have some fun!"

They both waited with expectant smiles.

I leaned against the doorway. "I do have a question."  Both ladies leaned forward.  "If a Scientologist came to your door and invited your kids to vacation Scientology school, would you let them go?"

They both looked aghast.  "Absolutely not!" they both said, nearly in unison.

I smiled.  "And I am absolutely not interested in sending my son to Vacation Bible School.  Thank you," and gently closed the door.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

List Sundays!!

In order to try to get myself to blog a bit more, I'm going to pilch an idea from some other blogs I've seen; namely, to initiate a "_____ Day".  As I truly adore lists, making lists, buying special notebooks for lists, and finding those cute list pads that you magnetically attach to your refrigerator, my special day is going to be List Sunday.  So here goes...

My 'Bad' Parenting List:

1. The Vs watch a lot of tv.  In fact, it's my favorite babysitter.  You cannot find a human that will actually watch your kids for $49.99 a month, so it's quite a steal.

2. Although I'm a brilliant cook, I have not actually made a meal since we moved into our new home (qualifier: Husband is still in Korea, so I've really no one to impress, as the Vs will eat anything that is semi-edible; with Vincent, it actually doesn't even have to be edible).  My freezer looks like it did when I was still bartending and going to nursing school.

3. I spank.  I've also gotten over my issues with disciplining in public; rather than dealing with a meltdown in the middle of Walmart and treating the masses to toy-denial-induced hysteria from my children, we march straight into the nearest bathroom to be "corrected".  I've gotten many a knowing look from other parents as I frog-march Vladimir (with him screeching all the while "No, No, NOOOOO!!! I will STOP! Please DO NOT DO THIS!!! WHY oh WHY?!?!?") into the ladies' room, and to date, no one's called CPS to inform them that *gasp!* someone's being beaten in the bathroom (although with the way he carries on with one whack to the bottom you'd think I was yanking his toenails off one by one).

4. Both Vs got formula.  I just didn't feel like breast feeding.  Tried it, got tired of it, switched to a bottle.

5. When Big V trips and falls, I tell him to shake it off.  We save the boo-boo kisses for active bleeding.

6. Both Vs cried it out when it came time to get a sleep schedule going.  Vlad slept through at about five months, Vincent started at two.

7. We eat processed, non-organic, carb-and-calorie loaded foods. They're delicious.

8. As long as no one's way nakey, Vlad is allowed to watch PG-13 movies.  Does that make me a hypocrite, that I allow guns and gore, but no naked boobs?  Do I sound like I really care?

9. When the Vs yank the head off of a Barbie or run her over with a tank, I do not freak out and tell them  to "be nice to Barbie!" or assume that they're going to grow up to be mysogynistic jerks. They do the same thing to GI Joe and Iron Man.

10. I'm pretty sure Vlad has never sung "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round"; however he knows every word to "Supermassive Black Hole", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", and "Get Low".  Vincent head bangs right along with him.

11. When Big V was being bitten nearly every goddamn day at daycare by the same kid (YES!! HE WENT TO DAYCARE!! THE HORROR!!) I did not have a meeting with his teacher or the director in order to "explore" the reasons the little shit was biting my kid.  I told him to punch him in the nose the next time.  Yes, I got a call a few days later about the kid's nose being bloodied.  Guess who never got bitten again.

12. When my friends bring their kids over to my house, they are well aware that I will feed their kids Cheetos, let them watch Indiana Jones, and probably hear me yell "Dammit!" when I burn myself/stub my toe/trip over the baby gate.  As far as I know, no one's banned from my house yet.

13. I appreciate my children so much more when I'm not around them 24/7.

14. They watch SpongeBob.  I watch it with them.

15. When it comes to playing sports, I am That Parent.  I like to Win.  If we don't Win, we will practice even more.  Their coaches will love me.

16. My kids will go to public school.  When they come home with the Columbus Day fairy tale, or any other edited-for-U.S.-children "history," I will correct the sanitized version of events.  Their teachers will love me.

17. Sometimes, we forgo the bath for a quick baby-wipe swipe-down, usually when I'm ready for them to Go To Bed Now.  Nine pm is me time, no exceptions.

18. We are not Christians, and no, the Vs will not be going to Vacation Bible School "just for fun!"  I think Jesus was probably a pretty cool dude before he was written up as a divine savior of all mankind.  No, I don't care if that offends you.

19. I am not my children's "friend." I am their boss.  That is all.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Repost if you agree. For real, this time.

I'm not a big one for reposting my own work; even though I'm not a regular blogger, I usually have something different enough to say that it isn't necessary.  However, in light of the new drug testing for welfare recipients law that was recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott, I thought I'd dig this one up, as my views on the subject haven't changed one iota.

What I find even more reprehensible is the common prejudicial thinking that resulted in this law: that if you are poor and struggling, you must be an addict too.  What about mandatory testing for all elected officials?  What about testing for those hefty land subsidies, often handed out to the very people who bitch the most about "welfare parasites"?

Interestingly enough a February report from the Center for Law and Social Policy found that legislative proposals to drug-test TANF recipients are, in fact, based on stereotypes, and not evidence:
          "Proponents often claim that drug testing will save money; however, this is based
            on a false assumption that many applicants will be denied benefits. Random 
            testing is a costly, flawed, and inefficient way of identifying recipients in need 
            of treatment"

Another thing that keeps getting glossed over is the fact that if these parents lose their benefits, it's their kids who won't eat.  "But Aleah, won't this MAKE them put their kids first, before their addiction?"  Do I really have to answer that?

Overall, I wouldn't have such an issue with this if it made testing mandatory for EVERYONE: everyone elected to a government job, everyone receiving federal grants, everyone drawing unemployment, everyone getting those farming subsidies, etc. etc. etc... and WOW! Think about the money the government would save then!!!

So, here's my "repost if you agree!" response.

from January:

Did you know that "Kentucky just passed the best law ever! to be on Food Stamps, Medicaid, or Cash Assistance for your Children or Yourself you have to pass a DRUG test. Now every other state should do the same. Re-post if you agree and are tired of people taking advantage of the system to be fucking lazy and do drugs"?  Yeah, I didn't know that either.  And interestingly, when I checked Snopes, I discovered that not only had Kentucky not passed that law, but a federal court ruled in Michigan that a similar law violated Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

"But wait!" you say. "Why can't the government mandate that you can't be on drugs if you're getting 'government handouts' that come out of my hard-earned tax dollars?" (these comments usually from the same Second Amendment-loving anti-government people who literally shit their pants at the thought of an individual mandate on health insurance). 

Well, let's explore that.  If you want to place drug testing restrictions on so-called "government handouts", we're gonna have to test people who are drawing unemployment, those who get those niiiiice farm subsidies, every single person on Medicare, anyone getting veteran's benefits, housing subsidies, temporary relief from foreclosure, and a number of other government assistance programs.  'Cause they're all fucking lazy, right?  And if someone pees dirty, we're going to yank that assistance, because their kids don't deserve to eat, right?

Actually, according to this lady, you shouldn't even be breeding if you're getting a government handout. This is what she had to say about people on welfare:
"For the welfare losers: If you can't afford to feed, clothe, or shelter yourself or your family without the aid of the government (and therefore, the taxpayers), then it should be COMPLETELY within our rights to drug test you. Drugs are illegal (as stupid as it is, yes, weed IS illegal in the U.S., but that's a separate issue), and you should not be using welfare money to break the law. You should be allowed NO luxuries, such as booze, cigs, candy, drugs, etc. You should get a basic landline phone and an answering machine, not an iPhone. You should be put on mandatory birth control until you're off the government dime. You already had children you can't afford, you don't need to make more. GET. A. JOB! Making life as shitty as possible for those who abuse the system might encourage them to get off it."

Well, (raising hand), I am one of those people who was on welfare.  My older son, who, according to Ms. Anderson, shouldn't have been born, was fed through WIC and other programs while I went to nursing school.  I had a government handout that helped me pay for heat, helped with my rent, and helped put him in daycare so I could work weekends at the Elks and spend my weeknights studying  (yes, every goddamn night; I have the GPA to prove it).  I was lucky enough to have a mother that paid for nearly all of my tuition and a grant from the Single Parent Program that gave me nearly a thousand dollars to help pay for my nursing books.  I dressed both myself and my boy with clothes from the Salvation Army, and my aunt's mother did my hair for free. No, I didn't do drugs, but I occasionally bought a bottle of $9 Moscato to sip before bed. 

I am so sick of people judging those who are less fortunate than they.  I am tired of people throwing out "lazy" and "leeches" and "parasites" when talking about people who are on government assistance.  Sure, everyone knows "someone" who pops out a kid every 11 months and uses their child support money to buy a Blackberry, but contrary to popular opinion, those people are not the norm.  MOST of them are like I was, trying to make ends meet. To suggest that someone would want to be on welfare is absolutely amazing to me.  You have no clue how humiliating it is to go to a public assistance office and tell them you need help, or have the receptionist at the doctor's office tell you loudly that they need to see the latest copy of your kid's medical card. 

For those of you who think that way, I won't change your mind.  Years of prejudicial thinking and watching Fox News have and will continue to feed your biases.  What I will do is continue to teach my children compassion, and tolerance, and empathy, and they will teach their children the same.  And in a few years, when you're in my hospital, receiving care that's paid for with Medicare and other government-subsidized monies, I will care for you with compassion, and tolerance, and empathy.  No judgment here.