Thursday, September 25, 2014

Got it?




Last week, I told my young son that his female fourth-grade classmates will soon be undergoing changes within the next year two, thanks to our dear friend, Puberty.

He jumped like he’d been tased.

“Here’s the deal,” I said in an I-mean-it kind way. “They are gonna start to grow boobs.”

“Geesh, Mom,” he whined and rolled his eyes.

I looked him straight in the eye and continued, “And girls get really sensitive when someone starts making fun of their boobs. Or lack of boobs. So you will not make fun or allow any of your friends to make fun. You will show them respect and kindness. Got it?”

He quickly nodded, “Got it,” and off he went.

See?

How simple was that, America?

As a parent to a little boy, it’s my job to ensure he grows up into a man. A man who gets it.

The “Washington Post” reported that 45 percent of the NFL’s 150 million American fans are female. Hooters commercials and barely-dressed cheerleaders dancing along the sidelines not-withstanding, the female audience has become one of the most prized demographics for the billion-dollar organization.

You can now buy flip flops and purses and jewelry and yoga pants and lingerie decorated with the logo of your favorite NFL team.

It won’t be long before it’s on a box of tampons.

God bless capitalism.

But please do me a favor, NFL.

Identify those players who like to beat women and children and boot them out of the league.

Do it. Do it now.

***

The NFL refused to boot Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens after seeing video of him dragging his then-fiancee from an elevator in an Atlantic City casino.

Because apparently the parties involved said they both regretted it. She said some things, he said some things, it just got out of hand, they claimed.

It wasn’t until the portion of the video INSIDE the elevator was released, showing Rice punching the woman in the face, that his suspension was extended beyond two games.

Now Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson has been indicted on charges of negligent injury to his 4-year-old old son.

He has admitted to “disciplining” the child with a tree switch. Photos released by the Houston Police Department detailed his “discipline.”

Gashes, bruising and bloody welts covered the boy’s thighs. The report also detailed further injuries to his buttocks and scrotum.

Now, due process will play out in this wicked little play. And that’s OK. We trust that the system works, and truth will out.

At first, the Vikings deactivated Peterson from the active roster after learning of the indictment.

Way to go, Vikings!

But then the team received a beatdown by the New England Patriots.

Wait. What?

A day later, Peterson was back on the roster, eligible to practice, attend team meetings and given permission to suit up for the next game.

Due process must be followed, officials said. Let’s not rush to judgement. Let the man have his day in court, the Vikings cried.

But the Vikings and the NFL are not the court of law. Because of that, they are allowed to use a little common sense right now.

And here’s what my common sense tells me: When a man who has ADMITTED to hitting his son leaves that kind of trauma on a defenseless child’s tender little body?

I don’t need the state of Texas to tell me he did something wrong.

And neither should the Vikings or the NFL.

It wasn’t until advertisers and sponsors started dropping like flies - hitting the team where it counts - that they turned around and took Peterson off the field yet again.

But don’t feel too sorry for him. He’s still getting paid.

Don’t let his excuse “that’s how I was raised” get Peterson a free pass. If the photos released by the police department are in any way, shape or form indicative of the discipline he received as a child?

It was wrong then too. If the damage he inflicted had been on a person 18 or older, he’d have been arrested for assault.

Since Peterson appears to be such a fine model of strict parenting, I tried to find out just how many children he has. You know, so I can see exactly what kind of expert he is.

Some reports say five. Some speculate seven, conceived by possibly at least four different women.

It appears Peterson himself is reluctant to answer. It’s possible he doesn’t say because he just doesn’t know.

In August last year he discovered the existence of a 2-year-old son he wasn’t aware he had fathered. 

He revealed in an ESPN interview that the first time he saw the little boy was two months later. At the hospital. Where the child was on life support after allegedly being beaten by the mother’s boyfriend.

The child soon died from his injuries.

Here is a man who has already lost one child to domestic violence. One would hope he’d be a little more protective of the children he has left.

Instead, after reports of his indictment, Peterson tweeted a photo of a Bible with blue-highlighted passages regarding the dangers of judging others.

Sorry, but I’m gonna judge right here: a guy who has several kids with several different women is really the last guy from whom I want Bible quotes.

You don’t get to pick and choose from a list of good behaviors, Mr. Peterson.
If you’re gonna talk the talk, learn to walk the walk.

***

At the Patriots/Vikings home opener, one fan appeared wearing a Adrian Peterson jersey and carrying a long switch in support of the beleaguered running back.

She was female.

Maybe the NFL - who made $9.5 billion last year thanks to their 45 percent female fan base - is smarter than we think.

If some women can’t get it, how can we expect men to?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's roll


Today is September 11.

It’s another anniversary of the day that changed our world.

Another anniversary when we remember the fallen.

Remember the heros.

Remember the families and friends left behind.

We remember the images. The black smoke. One crumbling tower. Then a second one. People in bewilderment and fear, running down dust-choked streets. A collapsed section of the Pentagon.

Later, a smoldering field in rural Pennsylvania.

The Stars and Stripes standing tall amid a tangled mess of debris and shattered lives.

Todd Beamer’s recorded voice saying, “Let’s roll.”

We Americans are full of pride, almost instilled from birth as soon as we slip from our mother’s womb. We are practically swaddled in the Stars and Stripes. Kindergartners learn to place tiny hands over tiny hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

We teach our children about respecting the flag and how to stand during the national anthem.

We love our red, white and blue. We love our history, our revolution against a king.

We love kicking butt in the Olympics. We love feeling like we’re Number One. We put men on the moon. We are a nation of winners and inventors and industrialists and educators and people out to take on the world before anyone can take it from us.

Pride. Arrogance.

That’s us. 

The world is a scary place. Sometimes in the fringes, sometimes blatantly out in the open, there are people whose very natures are dark. Like those who brought 9/11 into our lives. They live for the fear. They desire revenge. They see our pride, our arrogance and deem us unworthy.

But for each dark moment, for each tattered soul that lives to destroy, for each shattering event that calls into question our humanity for each other, there is light.

There is sweetness and innocence and compassion and hope.

It’s in the children who proudly set up a neighborhood lemonade stand to raise money for the local animal shelter.

It’s in those who create charming lending libraries at the end of their driveway so their neighbors can get lost in a new adventure.

It’s in the high school students who host fundraisers for a paralyzed classmate’s medical care.

It’s in the community members who build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

It’s in the shelters who help the abused and the abandoned, the neglected and the homeless, find a warm meal, a clean bed, a safe place.

It’s in the ALS bucket challenge, the Plunge for Landon Shaw.

It’s in the benefit dinner for a cancer patient.

It’s the community members who take an idea for a junior golf course and work to make it a reality.

It's in those who support a project to help disabled people bring home a paycheck and a sense of worthiness.

It’s in our teachers and our hospitals and our civic groups.

It’s the celebrities and athletes who use their fame and fortune to bring kindness and resources to those most in need.

It’s in groups like Wounded Warriors and the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

It’s in every local business that shares its time, talents and money with their community.

It’s in the welcoming faces of people like Maryville Hy-Vee greeter Fred Mares who make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world.

Do not think for one damn second that the bad guys are winning.

Do not think for one damn second our world is beyond hope, beyond help.

While days like 9/11 make our hearts heavy, I know that the goodness of man rejoices. Our world is not perfect. Too many people around the world are at the mercy of the powerful. Too few own and control too much.

But I still believe there is more light than darkness, no matter how desperate some moments seem.

What life post-9/11 has taught me is to grab on to those moments of light. Use them to blast at the shadows of those who’d bring darkness to a world that is not always kind.

Be a light in your own corner of the world. Fight the shadows.

Let’s roll.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fight or Flight


“I took your advice, Mom, and didn’t do anything to get sent to the principal’s office,” my son announced after his first day of fourth grade.

He smirked then added, “But I can’t promise the same thing tomorrow.”

There was a time I would have rolled my eyes and snorted at such a ridiculous sounding statement. My son? Cause trouble? Puh-leeze.

Mother Teresa was more likely to get sent to the principal’s office. And that’s AFTER she died and was canonized for sainthood.

But now I’m a little nervous. I fear those days of enjoying the life with a well-behaved child are slipping away from me. Those blessed times when he slowly walked up, guilty look upon his face, ready to bare his soul for whatever perceived misdeed he had performed, prepared to face the consequences before he’d even been caught.

I used to joke that the only time the kid was a tattle-tale was on himself.

How sweet.


But those times?
They. Are. Gone.

Just like the days when the “120 pounds” hilariously listed as the weight on my driver’s license was an accurate measurement.

I haven’t updated the info since I was 25. And until the Department of Motor Vehicles threatens me at knifepoint to change it, it’ll stay that way.

But I digress.

I remember those early days of new parenthood.

Bringing home our little bundle of joy with absolutely no idea how to actually care for him.
We’d never changed a diaper.

Never prepared a bottle.

Had no clue how to feed, burp, clothe or bathe him.

We’d had a better chance of discovering cold fusion before learning the in’s and out’s of swaddling.

I’m still amazed we didn’t break him.

But, as all parents do - even the stupid ones like us - we quickly learned about onesies and bottles and binkies and gas.

And teething. And the great advice someone offered, which involved rubbing blackberry-flavored rum on the little guy’s mouth in order to bring a little relief from the pain of tender gums.

And...uh...yeah, we gave our baby rum because you’re desperate to try anything at that point.
Did it work? Not a chance it hell.

So, yes, there were some bumps along the way, but we did OK.

He can walk, talk, read and ride a bike. 

No back talk. No fights. No school suspensions. He hasn’t flunked out of school nor set anything on fire.

He hasn’t even joined a biker gang.

So, yeah, we were feeling pretty darn confident that our young son was on the path to becoming Mr. Model Citizen.

Then the little bugger turned 9.

Nine?
NINE!
Not 13.
Not 17.
Not 21.

I wasn’t prepared for the you-know-what to hit the fan at 9.

It was like one day I was speaking English: “Go do your homework.”

And he did. He did his homework.

Then he turned 9, and apparently forgot every English-speaking word known to man. He’s either ignoring me or his Fight or Flight Response has kicked in.

And, for the record, he is VERY partial to the Fight option.

Suddenly anything from “set the table” to “put on your shoes” to “is the sky blue?” involves a full-on discussion worthy of a Geneva Convention.

For instance, his school instituted a new dress code for days the students attend Mass. Nothing too elaborate, just clothing choices that better reflect a church atmosphere.

Geesh. He fought like a rabid coyote that first day he had to wear a polo shirt and a pair of khakis to school.

Kid acted like I told him to wear a tutu with a tiara.

It’s gonna be a loooooong year.

But that’s OK. I still have that bottle of blackberry run around here somewhere.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

That's going on the Christmas card


“It’s like drinking scented liquid soap.”

So the husband was due for a routine colonoscopy.

His very first one.

Poor guy. It’s not until men get older (you know, when body parts start to sag and the inner plumbing gets clogged) that they are introduced to the type of annual fun we females have been partaking in since that very first gynecological exam during our teenage years.

Just the thought of a doctor snapping a rubber glove on his hand followed by the frightening words “bend over” are enough to contemplate undergoing hormone treatments and living out the rest of their lives as Bobbi rather than Bob.

Nope, instead they’ve been allowed to skip-a-doodle through life, undaunted by the thought of stirrups and rubber gloves and breast exams and doctors’ hands going into places that in most countries must be preceded with a marriage proposal. Or, at the very least, an exchange of four sheep and a bag of potatoes. Or a really, really, REALLY big glass of wine.

But such is life.

The time had come for my husband to pull up his big boy pants...just so he could pull ‘em back down at the doctor’s office later.

And that brings us to The Cleanse.

It sounds like the title to a post-apocalyptic summer blockbuster movie featuring horrid, pus-oozing aliens who descend upon the earth like a genocidal plague, wiping out humanity in one strong blow.

In reality, it’s a lot worse than that.

And like labor, everyone who’s been through it has all kinds of advice that - rather than help you - has the opposite effect and scares the holy bejesus out of you instead.

“Toilet paper. Lots and lots of toilet paper. And make sure it’s the good kind. This is one time you don’t wanna be a cheap bastard.”

“One word - Vaseline.”

“One word - vodka. I know they so No Alcohol, but screw that!”

All in all, The Cleanse stage wasn’t as bad as anticipated. Except for the stuff he had to ingest the morning of the procedure.

“It’s like drinking scented liquid soap,” he gagged over the sink, glass in hand and an I’m-gonna-puke look on his face.

Not sure when he ever had the opportunity to drink scented liquid soap.

I guess it’s true - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

***

“Nope, I’m a virgin.”

Let’s just say my husband was a bit apprehensive about the whole process. He even made sure he scheduled it at an office miles away rather than at the hospital in which he works.

“They’re all really nice people,” he commented about his fellow employees. “But there ain’t no way in everlasting hell that this thing’s going down - or up - with all of them watching.”

How sweet. He’s shy.

After being in labor for 24 hours, I quickly lost count of the number of nurses who traipsed in and out of my room to check how far my cervix had dilated.

I barely had time to mutter a how-do-you-do before someone had their hand up my you-know-what to measure.

After the fourth or fifth person, I just stopped caring. Of course, that could have been helped by the nice drugs they gave me.

Apparently my husband was a little less forgiving.

But he passed The Cleanse stage with flying colors. All that was left was The Procedure, and he was feeling rather confident by that point.

The nurse called his name, and he turned to follow her down the hallway. I heard her ask, “Have you had a colonoscopy before, sir?”

The last words I heard him say right before the swinging doors cut off the conversation were, “Nope, I’m a virgin.”

God helps us all.

***

“They took a picture.”

Thankfully, the routine procedure turned out to be, well, routine. 

The nice doctor arrived and gave us the thumbs up, asked if my husband had passed gas (he had; but apparently it’s a deal breaker if you don’t and you can’t go home for - like - ever) and sent us on our way.

As I drove out of the parking lot and onto the street, my husband flipped through the discharge papers the nurse had handed him before leaving.

“Oh, great,” he muttered. “They took a picture. Like I really needed to see what my a** looks like.”

I smiled and replied, “Awesome! That’s going on the Christmas card this year.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

This might sting a little




All I had to do was pull a few weeds.

And now I think I have the Ebola Virus.

Yeah, I know. It’s not something transmitted by plants.

But I don’t care.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

***

My assignment was a simple one - pull a few weeds around plants in the yard. I didn’t even have to get all of them. Just the little buggers that had grown too closely to the pretty flowers and bushes.

My husband, armed with some new fancy, schmancy organic weed killer, would then kill all the rest of the dastardly weeds in an ala Dirty Harry, Make My Day kinda way.

No big deal, right?

Right.

Unless...well, unless someone...I’m not saying who...put her hand somewhere she shouldn’t have and had an allergic reaction to something she never should have put her hand into in the first place.

Got it?

And, no, I wasn’t wearing gloves. It was just a few weeds, right? Only wusses wear gloves to pull a few weeds.

***

I looked down at the side of my right index finger where a blister the size of a Buick had busted and torn away, leaving a large flap of skin hanging in the wind.

Some type of bodily essence (I’m not sure what exactly) oozed from the wound. And since I hadn’t been wearing the aforementioned gloves when the darn blister made its appearance and broke, there was a ton of dirt and grime and other nastiness coating the entire thing.

Hands down, one of the grossest things I’d ever seen.

And I’ve given birth, people. Seen a new baby, covered in all the goop and slime of childbirth, recently expelled from my uterus. Moving on....

At least only one of the blisters had ruptured. The rest caused by the allergic reaction were currently behaving themselves. So that was good.

My husband wasn’t home, and the 9-year-old pansy insisted, “Owies creep me out.” Not so good.

So it was up to me to serve as my own EMT. Sure, I’m not gonna be that guy who cut off his arm to free himself when he got stuck while rock climbing, but I can handle a blister.

***

It’s a bad sign when there are three large bottles of hydrogen peroxide in the house, and all of them expired before 2008.

I was up the proverbial creek at this point, but I needed to clean the darn thing before it got any worse.

I turned on the faucet and stuck the raw wound under the running water. Bad idea, I know, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

And apparently a girl’s gotta throw up.

The streaking hot pain shot through my hand, up my arm then into my stomach where I just about tossed my breakfast all over the bathroom floor.

Screw this. There’s no need to live in the Dark Ages, people.

A quick call to my mom-in-law - since my husband was still AWOL - meant a new bottle of hydrogen peroxide was on its way.

***

In all fairness, a little hydrogen peroxide isn’t a big deal.

Shortly after college I went rollerblading for the first - and only - time. After a few short blocks on level streets, I’d suddenly decided I was a kickass rollerblader and could do hills too.

...For the record, I was not a kickass rollerblader.

I soon limped back home with a new respect for gravity and a swathe of road rash down my thigh.

Fresh out of college with no medical insurance meant I had to take care of it myself, and the only thing I had to clean it with was a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

So, yeah, I poured half of it onto my cheese grater-looking thigh.

I’ll be honest with you.

It stung. More than just a little bit. I cursed a few times then passed out in the bathtub where my roommates found me two hours later.

But I survived. And I will survive this blister too.

However, don’t think for a New York lovin’ minute I’m ever gonna weed (or rollerblade) again.