I'm opening with a rant in honor of the awesome blog I've just started reading "Rants from Mommyland"...
But mine isn't about parenting, although I'm sure I could. Rant, that is. About parenting. Expect more rants this summer, because let's face it - they are just fun to read and to write.
Summer has officially begun! I am thrilled. In the short amount of time I've been off work, I've already started writing two short stories, developed a novel idea for YA audiences and have penciled an outline (in my own little head of course), and updated my fancy shmancy blog - kicky, isn't it? I went with an eclectic theme this time, something a bit more edgy. I'm looking to take more risks. Yesterday when I had my hair "adjusted" to it's bright summer time blonde, I even toyed with the idea of a blue streak, or purple, or orange, or green - I didn't (mostly because Jerry thought it was insane), but I thought about it.
I've thought a lot lately about how much I don't do because it might offend someone else, because it doesn't fit in with the norms of society. My wonderful Aunt Lisa and I were just having this conversation last week. Our society is based on a set of norms, and they are what they are. You don't have to like them, but in order to achieve success, you do have to abide by them. To this, I want to say piss off - but I don't, because it is 100% true. I'm reminded of Dolphus Raymond, one of my favorite characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, when he says, "Some folks don’t like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with 'em, I don't care if they don't like it. I do say I don't care if they don't like it, right enough - but I don't say the hell with 'em, see?" Perplexing? Yes. Profound? Yes. His point is we don't have to care what others think about us, but it is ludicrous to go out of our way to throw the lifestyle we choose in their face. I say this with a bit of hesitation though because in the last five years or so, I've become so timid, so full of self-doubt, so uncomfortable in my own skin that I don't really say what I'm thinking lest I offend someone else. If you went to high school with me, this is a shock. My mouth way overloaded my ass back then, but now I've tempered my words, my moods (not at home I'm sure - Jerry would happily weigh in an opinion there), my actions, my choices all to suit others. And folks, let me tell you - I'm exhausted. Truly exhausted.
I'm thirty-five years old and find myself to be a stranger wandering through life wondering what will I be when I grow up? And it's a daunting question; one I never thought I'd entertain at my age. At thirty-five I should have it figured out. What I want to do, where I want to go, and exactly how to get there. I mean, we spend hours with students in the 8th grade forcing them into some path that should lead them to success for their adults lives...wait, 8th grade???? Pardon me, but WTH??? (and yes, another pithy expression came to mind, but I decided to edit).
So I would like to now relay the top five things I should have said or done in order to maintain my own self-worth and sanity (and some of them I can't do and keep my job - but man...it sure would have been nice!). Are they all the right thing to do? Maybe not, but frankly, I sure would have felt a lot better if I'd spoken up...sometimes we have to speak up. If I offend, well - I'm really not sorry this time.
#5: When a student in my class wasted time arguing with me about commonly confused words when one of the them is an adjective and one of them is a noun, and the word had been used as an adjective in the sentence, not because there was a true learning question, but because they just wanted to be right - to catch me in a mistake (the goal for the year it seemed). I should have told said student to "Shut-up and sit your 15-year-old-know-it-all ass down in the desk. No one cares about how smart you think you are - I am thirty-five years old and I survived 15 and 18 and 21 and 25 - you have yet to make it out of my classroom for the year." And there you have it. Some days you just get so damn frustrated with students, be it those that think they know everything or those that won't do anything, that the very human you are wants to rear its ugly head and have a temper-tantrum. But, who's the adult here? I am. So I cannot loose my cool no matter how warranted it sometimes seems. If you want to ask questions, fine. If you want to have a academic discussion AFTER class about a concept we are learning, fine. Are adults wrong sometimes? Absolutely. Have I been wrong in my classroom? You better believe it. And when I am, I own it - 100%. However, young people, know when and where and what to argue about. Wasting time over a moot point doesn't make you favorable. To anyone.
#4: A man (yes, a grown man - probably my age, maybe slightly younger) in Kroger was wearing a shirt with the Coke "wave" across it that said, "I love Vagina" instead of Coke. I was so shocked at the idiocy of the fashion choice that I choked on my comment. What should I have done? Well, a bevy of thoughts come to mind. I should have asked him, "Does it love you back, because wearing a shirt like that, my guess is no." or "Was there a doubt and you felt the need to overcompensate for this?" or "Can I take your picture - my friends will never believe someone actually wore this out of the house without proof?" or "I'll assume you think you look good? You do not." or "How many QUALITY women are we picking up with this shirt?" None. I can answer that. It is absurd that I cannot even go to the grocery store without being visually assaulted by some idiot in a stupid T-shirt. "Hey sh*t for brains, my son can read and he's seven - I don't think we're ready for that talk just yet, but thanks you prick for advertising." Freedom of speech will be the first defense thrown out for this - quick test right now: how many people actually can recite the 1st Amendment in its entirety? No one. There - don't claim "freedom of speech" and better yet, just use some general judgement. We have one planet and we all have to share - refer to Dolphus Raymond above.
#3: Dressing for your body type and size. This occurs constantly. I want the right to issue citations for fashion violations. This year, in the public school, I saw and corrected politely, more cleavage, "hail damage" shorts and skirts, muffins tops, and sagging pants that I care to ever correct. Each time it was a polite correction - "We need a safety pin for your shirt" when what I wanted to say was, "You are sixteen - quite dressing like a whore." or "We need to pull those shorts/skirt down a bit to meet dress code or you'll have to change" when what I wanted to say was, "Honey - you can't wear that. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Those legs should be covered. Always." or "Please pull your shirt down (and now you need a safety pin) over your stomach, I can see your belly-button" when what I wanted to say was, "No. Just no. You have a muffin top. Hell - you have a whole bunt cake and you do not wear a size 4 or a size 6 or even a size 8. Get a pair of pants/shorts that actually fit you - avoid low rise and do NOT wear a teeny tiny tee over said muffin top, I assure you, it is not covered." or "Sir, can I get you to pull up your pants a bit please?" when what I wanted to say was, "No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to see your scrawny scraggly ass hanging out the back of your pants that are ten sizes to big - you look like a small child trying to wear his daddy's jeans and you walk like a friggin' penguin!" There - I think that covers it.
#2: A black SUV almost ran me off the road this year. He was on his cell-phone texting. Yes, my son was with me in the car. I swerved into the shoulder, almost a ditch, to avoid being plowed by this idiot. He then hauled butt up the street and refused to even look in my general direction as if nothing at all had happened. Guess what you jerk? Something did happen. You, in your stupidity to text and drive, almost caused me to flip my car into a ditch WITH MY SON! There is nothing so important in a text message that it cannot wait until you reach your destination. I wanted to follow him, track him down like a stalker and watch him, for the rest of the day, the night, too just to give him the jitters, make him nervous. Smile and wave from time to time and then when he least expected it, pull out in front of him in a old metal beater and let him run his pretty SUV off the road and feel the heart palpitations well in his chest. But, I didn't. I took a deep breath, thanked God that we were o.k., unscathed, and alive, and continued my day. But I wanted to make him understand what he did before he does kill someone. I assure he has forgotten this moment. I. Have. Not.
And at the very top of the list...
#1: When an adult became frustrated and vented on me and I didn't respond. The moment is gone and I still don't know what I would have said, but it haunts me that I've allowed myself to become so insecure that even when it was directed right to my very own ears, I slumped in my chair, broken. Where did my backbone go?
I know where it went. It softened from years of being told I was too blunt, too honest, too forthright. That I offended people with my words and with the truth. It didn't matter if I was correct, it mattered that they didn't want to hear it. And neither do I - no one wants to hear "it" but consider this: If everyone stopped lying, stopped trying to smooth it over, make it better, sweep it under the rug, what would happen? There would be a lot of tears on the front side of this movement. A lot of hurt and anger and then maybe, just maybe, people would start to rebuild on a real foundation and understanding of one another and not a facade created to appease the world. A friend once told me that others struggle with me because I "bring a gun to a knife fight." Well Annie, get your gun.