Saturday, May 5, 2012

Confession: I'm Scared of Soccer Moms.

Okay, I'm pulling a journalism tactic... using sensational headlines to garner attention to the story. I'm not actually soccer-mom-phobic (in fact, I know some soccer moms who are really weird/cool/nice), but often when I take Dahlia to her classes, I look around and become instantly apprehensive. It's not necessarily that I'm worried the other mothers will be vicious toward me, but the conversations I hear them engaging in are truly scary. That, coupled with my discovery of, isn't doing well to soothe my growing worry that soccer moms are the real problem tearing at the moral fabric of society.

Censorship. I am very against censorship. On the radio, on the television, in the media. Anywhere. I don't believe there should be BLEEPS or BARS or anything that hides truth from children. That said, I /also/ do not believe that children should be exposed to certain things before their time. Does this sound contradictory? It should, until I add that personal responsibility should factor in. Parents should monitor what their kids are watching/listening to/doing, and have open dialogue about the things that are appropriate and not appropriate for their age levels. To say "Mary, this song is not appropriate, it sends a bad message and uses language we don't welcome in this house" is a lot better than hearing "" "" and "sh...t" all over the TV and radio. As if kids don't know what they're saying? Really? Does America think kids are stupid? If a show isn't "family appropriate" or if it's "full of filth" - don't watch it. Don't ruin it for the rest of us by needing things "a certain way" before they even reach your eyeballs. Use your own brain, don't try to make it so the rest of us can't use ours when we want to.

In my family, we discuss the merits of swear words. Dahlia doesn't use them, and if she hears you using them, chances are she'll tell you "that's inappropriate language." She used to say "that's a bad word" until I reinforced "there are no bad words, only words that are not socially acceptable in public settings." If you really get down to it, the only differences between "FUCK" and "FUNK" are one letter and a connotation. They're both words, both used, both elicit different reactions based on where they're said. Fuck isn't a word that will physically harm someone; it can't move out of the realm of idea and into your life, invading your house and stealing your children. It's a word. Don't give it a bad meaning, and it won't have one. We don't need to run from swear words. That's silly.

As for naked people/sex: they will encounter sex somewhere, and when they do a simple explanation about procreation and love or desires will suffice. Keep it simple. I don't think children should be censored from nudity in general, however. We were all born naked and we would still be naked if it weren't 1. illegal, 2. pseudo-shameful and 3. impractical, what with weather and erosion. Dahlia knows what a penis is, that it's a male counterpart genital to her own, and that it vaguely has some uses (urination, mainly). We don't use funny euphemisms, such as "potty" or "firehose" - we're anatomically correct. All that sugarcoating nonsense does nothing but make the already-difficult sex/puberty talk into a really complex web of deceit and discomfort. Doesn't need to be that bad!

Violence is another thing I've heard soccer moms discuss. Kids who are sheltered from violence generally experience one of two problems: they'll either get a VERY rude awakening when they're old enough to be aware of violence in life - or they'll become violent little jerks because the act of violence is forbidden. Anytime you forbid children from things, it instantly becomes more appetizing to them, unless you do so in such a manner where consequences are fully explained or felt (and sometimes in an abrupt, unpleasant way, such as when they reach for a hot stove).

Homosexuality. If you think the idea of explaining to your child why two men are married is scary, I think you need to move out of the suburbs. I've had to explain all kinds of strange things to my daughter, including gender reassignment surgery (I have lots of transsexual friends), why she doesn't have two mommies anymore (when my female partner of several years and I parted ways), non-monogamy (in sexless terms, using love as the bond), drag queens (I do makeup for them), schizophrenia (my closest cousin was diagnosed a few years ago), Marilyn Manson (she happened on a picture and asked), and drugs (thanks, Intervention - and people I've lost to addiction). Two dudes kissing? Not that bad. They're in love, they're both men, and that's that. Some women love other women. Some people love both. You're not going to make your child homosexual by telling them the truth about gay people any more than telling them about serial killers will make them the next Gacy. If you're not worried that educating your children against stranger danger will make them grow up to be kidnapping child-murderers, don't worry about mentioning that some women have wives.

Religion. Yes, I understand that childbirth is a wonderful, life-changing event full of things that seem to be absolute miracles. The fact that you've harbored a tiny spawn inside your body for approximately 3/4 of a year and then expelled them through your vaginal canal, then they grow massively in the next few years - forming their own identity, becoming real creatures, seems like nothing short of a religious experience. I also understand that having children is scary, and any misstep along the way seems to potentially carry treacherous consequences for all involved. However, the end result of this should not be a turn to religious zealotry or fundie-style fanatical adherence to imaginary deities and doctrines. Praying won't keep your son from scraping his knee. Following the biblical advice to not "spare the rod" will probably just make them angry bastards. Love your child rationally, anxiously, and if you want to cover yourself in bullshit - don't try to spread it all over others. seems to follow biblical law... and they use it to hose their giant crock of shit across the nation. We're more afraid of you than you are of us, onemillioners.

Conversation.  I have never heard worse conversation than that which occurs, and may I add painfully, between soccer moms. All that husband-complaining, disappointment about lack of appreciation, martyrdom, old wives' tale regaling, stress from children, overworked vacationless lives, sad/unappealing/awful things they have to wade through on a daily basis before they collapse from exhaustion... makes me dizzy. And sad. Are we not allowed to have lives outside of our children? Are we not capable of formulating a conversation based on our mutual love of literature/fascinating fetishes/music/Alan Rickman without it becoming a cautionary tale about ruined lives (because they weren't censored, of course)? Why is "date night" even a thing? When we, as women, become hollow shells of our former selves, we're doing a grave disservice to ourselves, our partners, and most of all - our children. Yes, our babies are the most important loves of our lives - but we should benefit from becoming mothers, not suffer endlessly as a result of their existence. If it sucks so bad, hire a babysitter. If you say you can't afford a babysitter, drop the starbucks/acrylic nails/world's most expensive SUV, save the extra $100/week, and by some magical sorcery... you'll be able to. Life? Revitalized. If you're already a woman of the Ultra-Sparse School of Frugality, child-share (one night a week you take someone's kids and your own, then they'll take your kids and theirs another night, etc), moms' night out, enlist relatives, send them to a sleepover. And as for your partner, if you have one, don't dress like a skeeze, drop the mom jeans, pull down the messy bun, and get busy like you've never seen a kid in your life.  Partner will thank you, kids will thank you, life will thank you. Also, it doesn't hurt to read the news once in a while (and I'm not referring to Circle of Moms news, either).

In a nutshell, I think soccermomitis is something that should start to disappear from school hallways, sex offender registries (stalking is unhealthy and knowing where they live won't help), outside of abortion clinics (leave the poor girls alone, you know you considered it during your first pregnancy scare), and anywhere else they tend to congregate and spread. Stop trying to make the world less fun for everyone else, and start to live a little. It'll be okay, I promise.

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