Friday, September 27, 2013

The Stupidity of the Parents vs. the Childless Wars

I know I said in my first post in restarting this thing that I hope this doesn't devolve in to a daddy blog but then here I go right out of the gate with parenting (or not parenting) as a topic. I read this piece on line that a friend - one of my favorite people and a great mom - linked to on Facebook. It was one of the stupidest tirades about parenting I've ever read so I really need to attack the douche bag who wrote it. And point out why he's so wrong.

His name is Matt Walsh and I'd never heard of the guy before this but apparently he thinks he's famous. He has a talk radio show - same as about a thousand other white males - and this blog where he had this post.

From the title of the post you think he has a beef with parents who don't control their kids but the opposite is the case. He has a problem with childless people with opinions. I found from looking through a little of his blog that he does this a lot with his post titles, making them the opposite of the point he is really making. So he also thinks he's clever.

The gist of his post here is about a kid having a meltdown in a grocery store and a childless guy has a problem with it:

You glanced toward the mother and the kid, then at me, rolled your eyes and said in a loud voice: “Man, some people need to learn how to control their f**king kids.” The lady could definitely hear you, but I guess that was your intention. You had this expression like you were expecting a high five. “Yeah, put it here, dude, you really told that young mother and her three year old off! Nice!” Is that how you thought I’d respond? What is it about me that made you think I would react that way? You’re the second stranger in the last few months to say something like that to me about a mom with a tantrum-throwing toddler.
Yeah, I didn't respond the way you anticipated. Instead, I offered my own helpful suggestion: “Man, some people need to learn how to shut their mouths, watch their language, and mind their own business.”

The rest of the piece kind of goes off on a tangent about childless people being clueless, as well as older parents who try to tell younger parents how things were "in my day."

On the surface of this argument you could see some merit. I hate people telling me how to parent and it is amazing how many people try to do that. But that isn't what is happening in the examples this guy gives.

First, about the situation above. Beyond how much I quoted there, Walsh goes on to praise the mother of the tantrum-throwing child for staying calm and poised and holding her ground to teach sonny a lesson about not getting what he wants and making him help pick up the display he knocked over. He has overwhelming sympathy for this mother and none for the other shoppers in the store. And that's my main issue with his point of view here. Many parents have this completely one-sided idea that everyone in the world need to respect them as parents and accommodate their children but they don't have to do anything to respect or accommodate others in the world.

Walsh says, "...the peanut gallery probably expects you to drop all of your groceries and immediately run into the parking lot, so as to save them from having to deal with the spectacle."

Well, yes! Goddammit yes you fucking douche! This is what enrages me about other parents, this idea that you shouldn't deal with your child's meltdown in a way that limits the intrusion in to others' lives. I understand there are teachable moments in a kid's life, you have to put your foot down and if they are going to have a tantrum about it fine, "have your tantrum but you are still not getting that toy/food/etc. that you want." But the rest of the world should not have to endure your child. You remove them from that place and make them have their tantrum someplace where it inconveniences the least amount of people. It is not rocket science. And I'm not saying you do it because it is embarrassing to you to have people judge you for having a tantrum-throwing child, you do it because your child is not other people's problem.

If an adult is causing a disturbance in a store it is applauded if they are asked to leave. But for some reason rules go out the window when it is a child, be it how they are allowed to act in public or parents being allowed to smack them in ways that would get a person arrested if they did it to an adult. The "rights" of parents trumps all else in the world even when it infringes on others. Walsh is right in that camp, scolding the childless guy for using bad language and having an opinion, while defending a woman who was allowing her child to disturb others. It is a prime example of an asshole parent. You are supposed to put up with my screaming kid and I have no requirement to care about your feelings or rights but you better not use bad words around my kid.

See my point? These types of parents expect accommodation but will make none for others. These are the types who will walk three-abreast on the sidewalk pushing strollers and not even move an inch to let other people by even though they are taking up the whole sidewalk.

I've seen even friends of mine act like this. I was once in a restaurant with friends with a kid who must have been about two-years-old at the time. The kid started to freak a little bit when they were making him stop doing something he wanted to do but they wanted him to stop. They really let him go on a while before his dad finally took him outside. His mother said she didn't even get phased when her kid acts like that and just lets him go on. Oblivious to the people around her and apparently proud of it.

And really, Walsh felt the need to scold someone about their language? It really is a one-sided street with these types. My kid can scream and cry in a public place and you should shut your trap about it, but don't you dare use any potty words around my kid. Fucking hypocritical bullshit. I don't understand parents who get mad at people who use profanity. Your child lives in the world, there are adult humans in the world, adult humans use profanity. Get over it. It is about the least bad thing for someone to do around your kids.

And using "f**king" instead of just typing out "fucking" is so goddamn childish and insulting to your readers intelligence. Or is he trying to protect the fragile minds of the three-year-olds reading his blog?

The other example Walsh gives in being told how to parent (again, no example he gives is actually anyone telling parents how to do their job) is an older man saying about crying babies in church that "back when our children were babies, you didn't have this problem.” Walsh responds with a snarky,"apparently babies didn't cry in the 50′s." Which, of course, is not at all what the guy was saying. I think he was saying that people got up and walked outside with their crying baby back in his day. Whether or not that's true I don't know but it is a valid point.

Walsh is one of those right-wing tea party evangelicals, which I discovered quickly after looking around his blog a little bit. He is typical of this type, he believes what he believes even if facts show he is wrong. He had one post about Christianity being pro-science - even having invented and advanced science, whereas atheism has done nothing for science - while arguing that religion should be in science class (which means teaching creationism alongside evolution). It is because of guys like him that we have the Parents Television Council that tries to get rid of everything on TV that's not kid-friendly. Because what adults want doesn't matter.

Whenever I hear or read asshats like this I always hear Helen Lovejoy's voice screaming, "Won't somebody please think of the children?"

Then I hear George Carlin responding, "Fuck the children."

I'm not saying there aren't real jerks out there in the world of childless people. Certainly there are. But I don't think believing that you shouldn't have to deal with screaming children when you don't have any makes you a jerk.

A few years ago in New York there was some media coverage (possibly media-created, most definitely media-fueled) about young Brooklyn hipsters in a battle with Brooklyn parents over the issue of kids in bars. It was stupid and a lot of childless people were bitching about just the mere presence of children in the bars whether or not those kids were behaving properly. Parents don't give up their right to have fun when they decide to breed. There are people out there who don't think I should be taking my four-year-old daughter to concerts either (yes I use ear protection for her since you are wondering) but I don't care. People thinking they can live in a world they don't have to ever see children is just as dumb as wanting to live in one without black people or Jews.

It can go both ways I know. Everyone seems to want to feel that they are superior in their choice, they made the right one by having or not having kids. It's a stupid battle that comes out of a complete lack of understanding those on the other side. And it is stoked by shitheads like Matt Walsh.

Childless people who want to live in a world where parents at least try to not let their kid be other people's problem does not make them jerks. But being a fan of Matt Walsh does.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Let's Try This Again

I've decided to try starting up my blog again.

Why? Good question. I'm not really sure, but sometimes I feel like I've got something to say and just posting short blurbs on Facebook just seems pointless. Not that a blog can't be completely pointless as well. I don't know, I guess putting yourself out there in the world with your thoughts feels like you're doing something more than annoying your friends with your rants. Or at least something different.

I just have to cut down on Facebook. Facebook was great when I first got on a few years ago. Finding long lost friends is a fantastic thing and the re-connection with some of them has not been limited to the virtual world but actual real-world reunions. So for that it has been great. But I've had the feeling for a long time that Facebook has been making me depressed. Or at least more depressed. I thought it was just me but my therapist (yes, my therapist) tells me she has a stack of literature about studies that are showing that Facebook users are more prone to depression, jealousy, and a host of other negative emotions.

I don't know why this happens, but it does. I suppose it depends on the kind of person you are (but if the early research is correct, maybe not) and in the matrix of glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty I've always been a glass-is-full-of-piss kind of person. Everyone on Facebook leads more exciting lives than me. Whenever someone posts what they are doing I always think, "Why don't I get to do that?" Two mutual friends hang out with each other and post pictures of it, why didn't they invite me? Somebody goes on a cool trip, damn why don't I get to go there?

I also get in to weird snippy fights with people I adore. When someone post something that is just factually wrong I can't seem to help myself. Why can't people check Snopes before passing shit along? It takes like 30 seconds. People seem truly offended by the simple fact of correcting them. So maybe when friends post crazy or wrong stuff I just write about it on here. It doesn't seem like that would make it better for your friends to have their points of view attacked more publicly but it seems that people take their Facebook "walls" very personally.

I think I'm on Facebook too much. And I'm not even on as much as a lot of other people. Since I don't have a dumb phone (as I like to call them) I'm only on when I home. But it is still more than I should be.

Besides, I kind of miss blogs. I really enjoyed writing this when I was doing it a couple times a week or more and I never really cared if anyone was reading it. And there are a lot of people out there who should still be writing blogs instead of hanging out on Facebook. My friends Joe and Jose used to both write great blog posts (being people who actually write, unlike me) yet neither one does it anymore. It was always more interesting than what they write on Facebook. I think the platform does make a difference.

Something's got to give for me. I need to start looking at my life for what it is instead of what it is not. Facebook doesn't seem to help me do that, not that that is its job. Why am I jealous of other people? I take at least one overseas trip a year, this year I'll take two. I've got a beautiful smart wife and a great daughter. My wife makes enough money for us to live well. While we're not rich, we're better off than most. It afforded me the opportunity to quit my full time job and be a stay-at-home-dad which means I get to hang out with my kid more than most people in our modern society of two working parents and full time daycare/preschool. I've got great friends. That I don't see them enough is not just their fault, it is on me to make sure we are seeing each other on more than Facebook.

So what will my blog be about? I don't really know but I didn't really know when I wrote it before and that seemed to work for me. I hope it doesn't devolve to a daddy blog because there is nothing more annoying than mommy or daddy blogs. Or more pointless and boring. I hope to write about my travels because I've always wanted to do that and I love trip planning including helping other people plan trips. And of course about shit that annoys me. And stuff that thrills me.

But here's where I'm at:

A little over a year ago as I approached my 42nd birthday it seemed that I was finally in full-blown midlife crisis mode. So I started going to therapy. The whole doom and gloom of midlife was then not helped by ending up in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation as it turned out) about three weeks after that birthday. That day I decided to quit my job, something my wife and I had been talking about possibly doing for a while. I didn't need any more motivation after that.

And that was supposed to make things great, but then our apartment building caught on fire. We lived in a hotel for six weeks. We had to move from our place due to our scumbag landlord's inability to return the building to livability or keep it up to fire code. Moved to a much more expensive place after just having given up my income. Had things stolen from us by either the movers, the fire-damage cleaners, or the sketchy contractor who wasn't done working on our new place by the time we moved in. Sketchy contractor and idiot heating/plumbing guy kept fucking up the air conditioner installation job, breaking it twice while hooking up the machine as we had two different heat waves.

So my stress was pretty high. My wife's stress was pretty high. Stress is not great for marriage. You might even say it's bad.

I was self medicating with alcohol. Also not good for a marriage. Or a liver.

Hopefully we have turned a corner. I'd like to think our marriage is stronger than ever. I hope she does too.

I've not always been that person who sees the good through all the shit that is happening to his life. But I need to start learning how.

Hopefully this is one small way to help make that happen.