Keeping Our Nasty In Check

I long ago gave up engaging in negative discourse over social media.  While it was never something that I did with any particular regularity, a few month ago I managed to find myself inordinately caught-up, worked-up and fed-up by an hours-long Facebook thread in which I repeatedly attempted (and, I might add, failed) to dissuade a high school acquaintance (and, not for nothin’, her own private posse of like-minded people) that not only is a person who identifies as transgender not a lower form of life but, as it turns out, neither are her parents who “allow” her to be herself.  Not surprisingly, I have a lot of feelings around this subject and I will even cop to the fact that, at the beginning, when I mistakenly thought we were engaging in respectful banter, I enjoyed the energy of the exchange.  It was when the vicious personal attacks began that I was outta there.

I recall feeling disgusted not only that there were people that I personally know who were, in addition to being violently misinformed, entirely unwilling to accept the fact that there existed an ideology other than their own.  The complete absence of empathy, compassion and kindness was appalling not because they did not see my point of view; rather, they did not respect the fact that the point of view I have is different from their own.

Of late, there is an abundance of fractured friendships, name calling, accusation hurling, highly aggressive support for your person but even more highly aggressive sentiment against theirs.  The hostility, and its intensity, comes from both sides resulting not in change necessarily rather an interpersonal breakdown: complete and total disrespect for one another.

argue

This week, there are those who have taken to social media to rally against the millions of women who participated in the marches held all over the world over this weekend.  Yeah, I straight up do not understand that.  In my mind, the marches were not against their guy…they were for every mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend who fears losing the long held right to decide for themselves what they can and cannot do to their bodies, who they can or cannot marry, how they are able to protect themselves, in every sense of the word, from this increasingly cruel and scary world.  How can anyone, with or without a vagina, protest that?!  Yet they have.

Today a friend posted a video on Facebook of a woman named Peggy Hubbard who, I have learned, frequently posts videos sharing her feelings and opinions on happenings in the world[1]. With abject disgust and anger in her voice, countenance and presentation, she spent nearly ten minutes dispensing a lecture on how disgraceful the marches were, how women should be ashamed of themselves and, rather inexplicably, had a running diatribe about the abundance of nudity at the marches.  (Huh?  There was nudity?  I normally don’t miss something like that…) She lashed out at Bill Clinton’s ogling of FLOTUS, was deeply offended by the sea of Pussyhats, aggressively refusing to use the “p” word opting, instead, to utter “vagina” as often as possible. She claimed, no, certified is more like it, that the women who marched had set us back 100 years.  And it pissed me off.

I briefly considered just scrolling on by, but her outright lack of respect for other women was more than I could take.  So I posted this:

XXXXX, nothing personal, but this woman is a disgrace to women everywhere. The women on the march did not set things back 100 years….your boy XXXXX is doing his level best to take care of that on his own. What’s all this talk about nudity? And for a woman to think that XXXXX propensity for grabbing pussies is ok…well, yuk. Bill Clinton “undressed FLOTUS with his eyes”…gimme a break.

I briefly deliberated not posting my knee jerk response, yet I allowed my impulsivity and underlying anger at the way the world seems to be functioning now and hit enter.  And then I waited for a flurry of nastiness, retribution and criticism to be hurled my way.  A part of me might even have been gunning for some spirited discourse. But the anticipated flood of vitriol never came.  In fact, the original poster and his supporters were far more respectful of me than I was of them.  I, in fact, had gone after them for having an ideology different from my own…and did so in a not particularly gracious or articulate way.

I have since deleted the comment, acutely aware that my incendiary remarks recast me into exactly the kind of person I have such disdain for.  Ouch. I fear, however, that we are all falling prey to a new normal which includes disrespect, unkindness and lack of acceptance.  I do not want that in my life…and suspect you don’t want it in yours, either.

talking

Our feelings are never wrong.  We are fully entitled to our opinions, fears and concerns.  We are not, however, entitled to shame, curse or diminish someone else if their feelings (which are still never wrong) differ from our own.  As I see it, either we are all going to work a little harder at respecting one another or all hell is going to break loose.

[1]  I tried to share the Facebook Live link here, but was unable to…however, a Google search brought up tons of videos of her, just not the one I was hoping to share.

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80 Words

Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday.  He was never one for fanfare or special attention under any circumstance, let alone his birthday.  Were he here, we would have celebrated as a nuclear family and not bothered with gifts since he truly considered his family to be the only gift he wanted or needed.

80

To commemorate this day, however, I asked the family to share, in 80 words[1], some thoughts.  Everyone is busy, the world is crazy[2] and not everyone in my family wears their heart on their sleeve as much as I do (most people don’t).  I completely respect them for that.  In fact, I could learn a thing or two from them.  Regardless of who did or did not write something, everyone in his family cherishes, adore and miss him.

Robbie:

The thing I miss most about my dad is his toothy smile and big laugh. 

 In fact, since childhood, my greatest joy was those times I could really make him crack up.

 There were a few subjects that would do the trick so I naturally returned to them time and time again.

 With him, it seems I never went too far.  I appreciated that in him.

I still like making people laugh.  But he was my best and favorite audience.

mjl70s

Me:

I think about my dad every single day. I wish he were here.  To enjoy my children, little kids when he died, now young adults.  To meet my wonderful husband and his family whom he’d have loved.  To remind me that things always work out, to keep my sense of humor and to not take things too seriously.   Or to share a donut, a York Peppermint Patty , a Klondike Bar or Celtics’Game. But mostly for his magical hug.

 

Aunt Barbara (sister):

About my brother…..a tease with a twinkle…did you know of the mysterious hole in the closet between our bedrooms, the toneless phone at of the 1940s, galoshes, hats and gloves stowed under the steps on the way to school and retrieved on the way home, the blare of the Long Ranger and Tom Mix every evening, stickball in the street and “meat du jour”?

Camp Lenox, the proud but short life of his first car, the not short jacket sleeves, fifty cents a football lesson…these are a few of the precious memories of the brother I loved and continue to love.

Jack (grandson):

I smile to think of my grandfather on this week especially, because his values were so completely and refreshingly the opposite of those that have overtaken our country’s most prominent leaders. He was a person whose decency ordered his life, and that was a principle he and my grandmother instilled in the rest of us. Kindness, generosity, and patience were not aspirations for him; they were simply his nature. How lucky I am to have had such a role model.

generous

Harrison (grandson):

It’s wrong to be selfish; Poppy never told me this, his actions did. If you ask anyone who knew him, they would tell of his selflessness. Through the years I have found myself being selfish in wanting him back. He was such a wonderful man, friend, husband, grandfather – the list goes on. I want him back, we all do. Yet, I have no doubt he is helping someone, somewhere with something they need him more for. We all love you.

heart

 

Thinking of you, MJL, and all those candles that we’d have lit in your honor…

candles

June, David, Ellie, Robbie, Julie, Barry, Becca, Jack, Izzie, Rachel, Sara, Harrison and Jessie.

[1] My Aunt exceeded 80 words…but since she knew him the longest, I gave her a pass. 😉

[2] Anyone who knew him knew that my father was the consummate gentleman.  He would have been so utterly disgusted by the behavior of the man in office that I am almost glad he wasn’t here to witness it.

Mama Bear

I have never, ever, ever been the “not my kid” mom.  You know the type: their little ones are perfectly behaved, never at fault and always a victim.  No, actually I usually assumed, and was exquisitely accurate, that it was my kid.  Once, when Jess was two, we were at the playroom at our local JCC, a place we logged thousands of hours in the winter months.  I saw a parent angrily perusing the room, clearly looking for the parent of the little hooligan at their feet.  I was pretty certain that it was my little hooligan (which it was) so I slowly, calmly headed in their direction, hoping that, if I walked slowly enough, the situation would diffuse before I arrived and angry other parent would never make the connection between me and Jess.  Alas, that is not how it played out.

Other parent: (pissily) ” Is this your kid?”

Me: (with a calm, sweet, hopefully disarming smile) “Maybe.  Depends what she did.”

OP: (still pissily) “She just bit my kid for no reason!”

Me: (still with a kind a smile) “Oh, she had a reason…she’s two.”

OP: Proceeds to rip me a new one.  At which point, her little darling shoved Jess to the ground. Crying ensued.  Other parent forced to eat their words.  I did not gloat.

Game. Set. Match.

From the beginning, my kids were taught and knew:

  • Tussle on the playground? You can never throw the first punch, but if someone hits you, hit ‘em back.  You cannot, however, ever hit a girl.
  • Someone giving you a hard time about being a swimmer and not a baseball player? Work it out. And, see bullet above.
  • A teacher being mean to you?  Talk to the teacher…you’re probably doing something to piss them off.
  • Not feeling 100% this morning? To “ill” to go to school? Get up, take a shower and see how you feel.  (That, in fairness, was a page directly from my father’s playbook.  And, guess what?  Nine times out of ten, the shower did the trick.)
  • You’re a teenager? Time to learn and then do, for the rest of your life, your own laundry.
  • You can be a boy, a girl, a dog or a Martian. You cannot, however, be an asshole.

However.

That kid who elevated the playground tussle to pushing you down to the ground and then punching you?  The classmate giving you a hard time to the point of making you not want to go to school?  The teacher who legit seems to have it out for you?  Spike a fever and throw up on my feet?  Well, that’s a different story…and this Mama Bear is going to come out, claws ready, teeth bared and ears back, ready to rumble.  Mess with me.  Do no, I repeat do not, mess with my kids.

Badass Bear

I am fiercely loyal, protective and supportive of my children.  Have they always made it easy?  Hell to the no.  Has It always been fun? Nope.  Have there been times that sitting in the corner, rocking, sucking my thumb and pouring wine down my throat feels like the only best solution? Yep.  Has even the fantasy of clocking a kid or, even more so, their parent, seemed pretty much the most awesome and perfect way to solve an issue? Oh, yeah.

However.

I am a mature, in-control, compassionate and kind (all of these, of course, most of the time) woman and, to date, have behaved appropriately, even whilst biting my tongue, sitting on my hands and gritting and grinding my teeth down to powder.

However.

The depth of my anger and disappointment, both for my children and, frankly me, at someone’s behavior this week is epic.  I am not a violent person.  I try to let bugs out as opposed to kill them.  I eschew gratuitous slashing and killing in books, movies and television[1] opting, instead, for the feel good shit.  Yet, right now, I truly want to rip into, call out, scream at, swing at and drive a car into and then over (and back again) a particular person (an adult, I might add) who has outrageously wronged my kids.  And, not for nothing, this is not the first nor, I assume and dread, the last time.

However.

I know, from repeated experience, that nothing that I say, do, plead, beg or pray for will change this person.  I can neither embarrass nor shame.  Talking calmly, yelling maniacally, remaining silent or enlisting others to intervene: all for naught.  And, for this mama bear, that is perhaps the hardest part.  I have always tried hard to let my kids, with my support and encouragement, figure things out.  If I fix everything, what will they do when I am not around?   I do, however, share their hurt, disappointment and fury.  I also, want like hell to fix this one…but I know I cannot.

Do I want to swoop in and save them?   Of course I do.

Do I want to erase what has happened? Duh, more than anything, ever.

Do I know that they are strong, independent and smart kids who will, like everything else, figure it out? Yep.

But, if I am being honest, it is taking every shred of self control for this Mama Bear to not go on the attack.  And it sucks.

[1] Notable exception: “Shameless”.  Oh. My. God