Tuesday, February 15, 2005

in a calm conversational tone...

A parent’s nightmare (or if you’re like me, at least one of them…)
Thank God that the little guy is back with his mama and dad. (But can I ask an ignorant question? Take a look at the birthmark on the baby’s forehead. I mean, c’mon, how could you forget that? Wouldn’t requiring a listing of identifying marks have cleared this up much more quickly? Or maybe the baby’s pictures were too publicized for that to be feasible?)

Jude has just discovered that his little stuffed Blue that his cousin Connor gave him has magnets in her paws and so can draw on his Magnadoodle. Oh frabjous day! I wonder if this gets me off the hook from drawing umpteen family portraits on the dang thing? It’s harder than you might think to get a decent likeness of my husband on the Magnadoodle, but at least I wear glasses, so that helps *my* self-portrait. I wish I had a scanner or a digital camera so I could post my feeble efforts. My rendition of Jude’s balding, battered baby doll Mimi is heartrending.


I LOVE this:

I am pulling for Cloud Atlas since in my opinion, it got robbed for the Booker.


OK, there was an entry on Bookslut yesterday about this book that I have seen everywhere for the past few years, called A Child Called It. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't read it; I am not interested in reading it; I *have* read a number of reviews. Turns out there is a good chance the guy made it all up (link courtesy of bookslut); first his brother said he did indeed fabricate the whole shebang, but then the brother jumped on the bandwagon and wrote his own godawful book.

Now here’s the question (in a roundabout, ranty kind of way). As a parent, I find it incredibly difficult to even read the newspapers some days. The things people do to children – often their own children - are nauseating and heartbreaking and make me want to scream. And we’re talking newspaper reporting here, no salacious details or gory descriptions. And yet *apparently normal* people are paying good money for a book that details in excruciating particulars the horrific torture and abuse allegedly suffered by these two men as children. At the hand of their natural mother. I am not arguing that it is impossible. But WHY would you want to read about it? Isn’t it uplifting enough that these children overcame their horrific, abusive lives and grew up into respectable, somewhat normal people? Do you need to read all about the disgusting things their parent did to them to make it more inspirational and uplifting?? Huh? Do you?

A few years ago I read Richard Russo’s Empire Falls. A decent book, with Russo’s typically deep and well-drawn characters, albeit with a slightly more sensationalist ending than I have come to expect from a writer as careful as Russo. But what I remember most from that book is a brief paragraph about halfway thru, where the police chief explains to one of the main characters the abuse the teenage boy in the story underwent at the hands of his young druggie parents: When the toddler was fussy or they just didn’t feel like coping with him anymore, they would put him in a laundry bag and hang him from the back of the door, where he then would cry and kick and scream his way to exhaustion and sleep. So his parents could shoot up in peace. There’s a lot going on in this book, but this is what I remember most clearly. I was horrified then, I am still horrified. Why do people like that bother to procreate? Why bother with pregnancy and birth if you don’t care about the child? In my mind, actions like this clearly go way beyond neglect - it's active torment.

I understand psychotics like Andrea Yates more than I understand people who torture their children for kicks. Which I suppose is good. While I have never even once contemplated killing my kids, thank God, I have certainly been at the point where I was ready to walk out the door and never return, or kill myself, or at least lock them in their rooms for an hour of peace; I have certainly whacked them on their butts on occasion, when called for. But I have NEVER, EVER, and I venture to assert that no normal parent ever has, thought of torturing my kids.

I happen to adore my kids, I would gladly take a bullet for either one of them. I would save them before I would save my husband (a Sophie’s choice I hope I never have to make). But I don’t think I am a particularly good or morally upstanding person. What makes a person capable of parenting -- and what is it that prompts other people to want to read in stomach-sickening detail about the parents who fail miserably?

To wrap up my rant (which, sorry, turned into a two-pronged rant rather than a single one), here’s an applicable quote from one of my favorite movies, Parenthood:
“You know, Mrs. Buchman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

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