Tag Archives: parents

My Only Worries of Being Childless

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"Empty Cradle" by CoryMarchand

My post on how awkward it can be when you’re the only childless couple really garnered a lot of folks attention. I don’t get many comments as a rule, and that post picked up several. With that in mind, I want to do a follow-up on my views of being childless and explain a thing or two in a little more detail.

Sometimes I wish Budge and I would have had children one way or another. Having seen how happy Mason has made Daddy as a grandpa, I would like for Mama to have had a blood grandchild of her own. Now she’s a surrogate grandmother to many, many children of my various cousins and assorted other kin, but I know a child of mine and Budge’s would have made her even more overjoyed. Of course, with her COPD robbing her of vitality, she wouldn’t be able to do much with the baby, but hopefully, having that baby would make her sitting confined to a chair that much easier to bear.

Mostly, I’d just like to know what kind of father I would have made. I’ve always wanted a little girl, but Budge said I’d end up in jail or a mental hospital with a nervous breakdown once she became a teenager. I don’t know about that. I’m not worried about my hypothetical daughter. I know she’d be an angel. What I’d be worried about is her finding ME when I was between 15 and 19.

I was the boy all the parents loved because I was so respectful and attentive to not only their daughter, but also them. I guess I’d have had to set the boy down and tell him, “Son, I don’t like you and I don’t want to like you. You don’t have to make small talk with me about my hobbies or sports or anything of that sort. I know your kind and I know what you want really, really badly and I realize nothing I can do will change that. But, son, you need to know one thing. There’s a well in out in the country where I grew up. It’s deep and hard to get to. If I catch you impinging on my daughter’s honor, they’ll never find you.” Well, maybe Budge is right.

The main reason I worry about us being childless, however, IS Budge. See, I’ve got maybe thirty or thirty-five years left before one of the Wham heart attacks takes me on to see Jesus . . . I hope. We don’t have much family in any event, and I’m worried sick about leaving Budge back here alone. I don’t want her to get old alone. I don’t even want her to EAT alone now! People used to laugh at me because whenever I would have a wrestling match or something of the sort and wouldn’t be able to eat supper with Budge, I’d always call one of her friends and ask her to take Budge to supper and I’d pay. I can’t stand the thoughts of her eating alone.

I remember visiting Granny Wham when she was in Martha Franks Retirement Home. Some of the ladies there had outlived all their family. They literally had no one to come visit them or make sure they were being treated well. I get so upset I start crying and get sick to my stomach when I think about my beloved Budge sitting at a table alone knowing no one is going to come visit on special days like Christmas and her birthday.

SHE tells me I’m being silly, but that’s the biggest worry I have since we have no children. I want her taken care of, but I know that if the world stands long enough, I’ll probably go to the grave before she does. Of course, if she goes before me, the funeral home may as well hold the hearse at the house because I’ll probably be along shortly from grief. It will be difficult for me to go on without Mama, but life without Mama AND my Budge is just too much to bear!

Have a good weekend, y’all!

Love y’all and keep your feet clean and warm during this cold snap!

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Instructions Would be Helpful

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Tonight, Budge and I had the privilege to keep the nine-month-old youngest baby boy of some of our friends from our church community group. The parents were going to see Oldest Daughter perform as Comet the Reindeer in the school’s Winter Holiday Christmas program and Middle Daughter would be accompanying the parentals.

However, Baby Boy likes to go to bed at 6:30 to 7:00 in the evening and, even though he is a wonderfully easy baby 99% of the time, he does NOT like being up past his bedtime. With that in mind, Dad gave me a call and asked if we’d get Junior off to bed so He and Mom could enjoy the show.

Since we are childless but adore children, we jumped at the chance!

Now as I said, Junior is an awesome baby. He’s ALMOST got the mechanics of crawling down. He’s got the arm strength built up to hold up his torso and he’s got the rocking motion down, but he just hasn’t quite put all the pieces together to create forward movement.

Mom explained the bedtime routine, told us where the Chicken Enchilada Bake for supper was warming up, and thanked us profusely before heading out the door to the school. Junior played hard for the next 90 minutes. He loves his little soft ball, but he has a hard time keeping it where he wants it and he since he can’t move to get it yet, he gets a little aggravated when it rolls away. So he and I had a great time playing with the ball and the little thing you push down on and it spins. He was having a great time, but all good things wear out and right around 6:35, the little fella started wearing out.

Budge asked me to do the diaper change and put him in his “sleep sack” while she ate supper then she’d take him up and rock him a bit so he’d go to sleep. No problem. Diaper changes don’t bother me at all. When Budge and I kept nursery at our former church, we had a family who sent three children through the nursery and I have no idea what those little ones ate, but they had the WORST diapers imaginable. I won’t gross you out with the hideously gory details, but suffice it to say the diaper, and sometimes even the clothes, didn’t always contain the spillage.

Little Junior’s diaper was a piece o’ cake compared to the Samples’ kids. I got him into the dry and put him in his sleep sack, zipped it up and figured he was ready for the night. Now I’ll admit I was a bit confused about the design of the sleep sack. It looked warm enough aplenty for his tummy to his feet, but his arms and chest were exposed and since I was under the impression the sleep sack replaced blankets in the crib, I was worried that his little upper body was going to get chilled. Still, this was the garment Mom had left for him to sleep in and Mom knows best, so I got him snuggled in the sleep sack, picked up his footie pjs to put in the hamper and went to make the handoff to Budge.

Those of you who know and understand the workings of sleep sacks already realize the problem. I would have loved a call from any one of you about four hours ago.

As soon as Budge saw me holding Junior, she laughed a little. When I queried her about what was so humorous, she informed me THEN that the sleep sack goes on OVER the pjs. Well, that does make sense, but since I like a minimum of cover when I sleep, I projected that onto the baby and figured the sack was all he needed, despite my misgivings about the arms and chest exposure.

Okay, I felt a little aggravated at the fact everyone in the world seemed to know how to dress a babe in a glorified sleeping bag except me, but I got over it quickly in the spirit of getting Junior off to the Land of Nod. So I sat him down and prepared to rectify the mistaken clothing situation.

It was there my troubles began.

See, Junior was an angel for the first undressing and redressing, HOWEVER, it became immediately obvious that he also was not one to suffer fools gladly. I had taken my ONE chance at dressing him properly while he was compliant and calm and I had blown it. Now, I would have to pay for that folly.

Since the sleep sack had just the one zipper, I had him skinned out of it relatively quickly, but then the footie pjs had to go back on. Whoever dreamed up footie pjs should be taken out, stood against the wall, and shot. Then shot again. With the eponymous “footies” on the bottoms of the pj legs, it is impossible to reach up through the leg, take firm hold of the wiggling foot and pull said foot back through the leg. You instead have to do “the point and push” where you start a foot into a pj leg and hope Junior extends his leg. He did . . . after six tries.

Then it was time to get the arms in the sleeves. I could have put socks on a millipede in the time it took me to get Junior’s arms corralled and into their proper resting places. Did you know a baby boy who is pissed off at you because you are too stupid to get him dressed correctly the first time can A) scream louder than the flight deck of a nuclear aircraft carrier during launch and recovery AND B) bend his arm into contortions that would make Houdini proud? By diligent effort, though, I managed to redress the lad in his pjs and wrangle him back into the sleep sack. Of course the zipper stuck a time or two and Budge was making everything soooo very much easier by giving helpful advice like, “Don’t catch his skin in the zipper!”

I really wanted to say, “Hon, I’m a guy. I’m used to ‘not catching things in zippers’ okay?” But I didn’t so I lived to write this entry. When I finally got the zipper zipped and the little tag thingy at the top of the collar buttoned, I threw both hands in the air rodeo style so the judges would know I had finished the hog-tying event. Budge just looked at me with barely disguised laughter of derision and scooped Junior up and took him off to bed.

Hey, all you Gerber and Carter and Oshkosh people? How about some directions printed on the sleep sack? Too much to ask?

In any event, love all of y’all and keep your feet “sleep sack” warm, dry, and clean!

Awkward isn’t just for Adolescents

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As I’ve come to understand it, Americans should get out of college and pair off. Preferably the pairs will marry, but this is no longer the rigid step it once was. As a couple, you’re allowed around two to five years to “get to know each other” and “just be the two of you,” unless you happen to announce your intention to “start a ‘family’ right away.”

In that case, babies can start showing up within a year and stop when the couple reaches their desired number, which could range from one or two in most couples’ cases, to four or five if you want to be on staff where I go to church, all the way up to “20 and counting” if you are Amish, a member of a Quiverfull sect, or want your own lucrative reality television show.

Then you raise those children, get them educated, grown and gone, then retire to a life of travel and leisure while your empty nest periodically refills with grandchildren to bounce on knees and spoil rotten. Then you die, preferably surrounded by all those loving children. THEN — if you’re Mormon and had your marriage sealed in one of the Temples — you get to go to your own planet somewhere in the universe and do this whole cycle again on a deified, planetary level.

So, based on this supposed normal cycle, Budge and I have an awkward social problem. Apparently, we’ve skipped the vital “having and raising children” and, as a result, we are the “older childless couple.”

Let me clarify by saying that we didn’t set out to be an “older childless couple.” That’s just how our life has worked out. Budge was young (18) when we married so neither of us felt a great urgency to add to the world population right away. She still had college to finish and I was a relatively new teacher.

Time passed, we got our own place, and we let nature take its course. After the obligatory five years, we were still childless. Then we found out Budge has P.C.O.S. which will make it difficult if not impossible for her to ever have children. Now that is the main roadblock to our fertility that we know of. I could have issues or she could have another issue. We haven’t ever pursued it simply because life has continually gotten in the way.

We dismissed fertility procedures right from the start. We knew we didn’t have the funds to pursue treatment then and we sure don’t have it now. The profits pharmaceutical companies and some doctors are raking in from people desperate to have a child are obscene. I think it’s borderline criminal to make so much money on another person’s misery and anxiety. Also, we’ve seen first hand and up close what an untrammeled and unfulfilled desire to have a baby can do to a couple financially, but more importantly, emotionally. We didn’t want to put each other through that ordeal when we’ve got plenty more ordeals to deal with as it stands.

We studied adoption and got super-interested in adopting a baby girl or two from China. That door closed for us when China completely overhauled its foreign adoption policies. Looking at several websites of agencies specializing in Chinese adoptions, we soon realized we didn’t meet ANY of the financial or medical criteria China now set for foreign adoptions. After our plan of adopting from China aborted before takeoff, we briefly looked at domestic adoption but abandoned that idea for one reason — money.

So we’ve been married fifteen years and we have no children and, barring a miracle or a tragedy (we are the guardians of several children in friends’ wills), we won’t have any. We’ve come to accept this way of life and found it not so bad. We love children — we wouldn’t have both gone into education if we didn’t. We have a grown niece and four nephews (and counting) that we spend time with. Some of our friends have little ones we adore and spoil as much as possible, but mostly it’s just us. That’s okay with us, but it seems to be a problem for some other people.

You don’t really understand just how much this culture worships children until you’ve been married (or even together these days) with nothing but a small home and several pets to show for it. Churches especially seem to spend a huge section of their budgets on children’s programming and facilities. If you don’t HAVE children, you become — quite without malice, I’m certain — a bit of a second class citizen. We just don’t fit into any demographic.We aren’t singles; we aren’t empty-nesters; we aren’t parents. In such a child-centered world, we are oddballs.

If I had a dime for every time some well-intentioned person asked “so when are y’all gonna have some kids?” I’d be wealthy enough to buy the child of my choice on the black market. It doesn’t make me or Budge mad and we don’t experience the agony some infertile couples do, but it still makes for an “awkward turtle”-esque pause in the conversation.

Being childless also has a few aggravating implications. We are the last people in either of our families to know of any family plans because, “y’all don’t have to worry about schedules and stuff.” The thought being, we don’t have children so we can come and go whenever it suits everyone else. Likewise, people don’t mind “volunteering” us for stuff for much the same reason. We don’t have to worry about baby-sitters. It also means we get excluded from a lot of conversations — even among our friends. I guess they think being childless makes us deaf, too; so they feel free to talk about feedings, clothing, and sicknesses as if we didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. We don’t have children of our own but that doesn’t mean we know nothing about children! Go figure.

The only thing that really bothers that people do is when a mother or a father looks at me when I speak up about children and says, “well, you’d think that since you don’t HAVE any children.” Well, goober, no I don’t have any children of my own, but I spent 10 years seeing how idiots like you screwed them up by the time they got to their teen years. I don’t say that much though because Budge usually starts patting me on the leg or back as soon as she hears someone say something that could set me off.

So, y’all, just keep in mind that some of us out here are childless. We didn’t choose to be, but we’re okay with the hands life dealt us — you know, “whatever condition you find yourself in be content?” All we ask is a place at the table. After all, we make great baby-sitters.

Keep those feet clean and know that I love y’all!

Being a Bad Parent — continued

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People don't always notice signs.

I’ve had some people ask me about my last post. They want to know what set me off. Was it something specific or was I just railing against the general inability of some people to parent. Well, my post about poor parents actually DOES have its roots in a specific local family dynamic. Now I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by naming names, so let’s call them, oh, I don’t know — my next door neighbors. The ones on the right hand side as one looks at our home. The ones with the blue car with the duct tape and plastic tarp side window. And the pile of trash on the back porch. And the yard strewn with debris. You get the idea.

These people do not look after their kids! Gentle readers, I don’t live in DisneyWorld. This is a lower middle class / upper working class “mobile home subdivision”, basically a trailer park but we have to take the tongues and wheels off the trailers and we don’t rent the spaces. Kids NEED to be watched after around here.

What makes matters worse is this is a particularly FERTILE couple. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how the lower down on the intellectual level one goes in the animal kingdom the more offspring a given pair of animals produces? For instance, dolphins are super smart. Dolphins have ONE pup at a time. Two is a rarity. Frogs, though? Frogs will NEVER top anyone’s list of Einsteinesque fauna and they have THOUSANDS of offspring at once. The reason is obvious — the dumber the animal, the more offspring that are needed to ensure the species survives.

They are working on that principle right next door.

Happens WAY too much.

This woman has FOUR kids. The oldest two are both in the FIRST GRADE. They are only 10 months apart in age, and get this — they have different daddies! Let THAT math keep you up at night. These kids are 6 almost 7, barely 6, four, and two years old. The oldest is a girl and the rest are carbon copy boys.

Do these people not know what a TELEVISION is?

Anyway, they have this slew of kids. The dad lost his job in the downturn two years ago so he’s been working about six part-time jobs. I’m not sure if he works so much for the money or if he just wants to stay away from home. I know which one I’D pick. The mom stays at home with the brood until dad gets home at which point she takes the car to her job at McDonalds. I’d be worried about them financially, but when she was big as a barrel with the two-year-old she told Budge and me they were in good shape because of WIC, food stamps, and about six other government programs.

Now up to this point, you might think I’m just cracking on some poor white trash in an attempt to get blog hits. You couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, I hesitate to call anyone white trash. Too many members of my family have been branded with that particular moniker over the years for me to toss such a label around lightly. More than that though is the fact that I’ve seen other families in similar states be adoring and careful parents and raise some amazing kids.

No, I’m cracking on this bunch because of the UPS truck.

I was straightening up the house about a week ago when I heard a LARGE vehicle LOCK DOWN on the brakes. I looked up to see the four-year old staring at the grille of the Big Brown Truck. I know this UPS driver and he’s not an excessive speed demon. If he’d been traveling two miles an hour faster, that kid would have been road kill.

Just a matter of time?

If that was a one time deal, I wouldn’t be going to the trouble of writing this, but that kind of thing is the RULE in their house, not the exception. The three oldest kids stay outside from the time school lets out until dark. They have NO IDEA what it means to look before crossing a road. To date, besides the UPS truck, two school buses, the Charter guy, the water meter guy, and at least six cars that I have seen have nearly wrung the brake pads off the front of their cars trying to keep from turning one of these chaps into a human speed bump. They NEVER look where they are going. I’ve told Budge that it is just a matter of time before someone can’t make a last second stop and that’s going to be terrible.

I used to never lock my gates. Now I do because these kids have no concept of “that’s not yours.” It’s nothing for them to go across my yard — which I really DON’T mind — and get out toys belonging to my OTHER neighbors’ GOOD child and start playing with them even if no one there is home! I can’t imagine how long I’d have been stuck inside if my mama had caught me doing such!

Let me be clear though — it’s NOT THE KIDS’ FAULT.

Too late to watch over them now.

If a six, five, or four-year old child doesn’t know how to behave, it is not his fault. It is the PARENTS’ fault. Children are just that — children. By definition they are ignorant of most dangers, evils, and pitfalls and thank God they are. The horrible state of the world will catch up to them soon enough. Until then, though, it is up to MAMA and DADDY to RAISE them and that requires a little something called WORK.

Now I’ve seen a child run out in front of a car before, but every other time it was because he wasn’t listening to THE ADULT STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. The adult is attempting to provide a safe transit from store to car and the child isn’t listening. Most of the times I’ve seen this happen, Mama or Daddy will reinforce the lesson of the near tragedy by a vigorous application of the Board of Education to the Seat of Understanding just as soon as everyone reaches the car.

Not this family.

No one is watching these kids. We live on the busiest street in our neighborhood and Mom is nowhere to be found unless she happens out onto the porch to smoke. Granny wouldn’t let me play in the FRONT YARD of her and Papa’s house and they lived on a street full of nothing but old people in the quietest neighborhood in Fountain Inn. If I GOT ran over it would be due to Mrs. Johnson losing control of her power scooter and tearing through the wisteria bordering the back yard. Otherwise, I was safer than the gold in Fort Knox. Plus, this was in the pre-Adam Walsh days when we kids didn’t know strangers would kill us. Someone in a van could pull up, offer these kids next door candy, snatch them into the vehicle and be gone and it would be suppertime before Mom even noticed they were gone. That’s insane!

I don't want this scene in front of my home. Children deserve better caretakers.

If anyone is looking out for these kids, it’s ONE little girl who is about ten and seems to be the natural “mothering type”.

You haven’t seen irony until you see a ten-year-old berating a four-year old at top volume like R. Lee Ermey on crack because the kid didn’t look before crossing the street. If it wasn’t for though, these kids would be as rudderless as a capsized canoe in a whitewater whirlpool. I for one think the child deserves a medal.

BUT IT’S NOT. HER. PLACE. TO. WATCH. THESE. KIDS.

I am at a loss to know what to do. As a final thought, if one of the kids DOES get hurt, I’LL have to call 911 because THEY don’t have a phone. Correction, they have a cell phone, but instead of leaving it at home in case — I don’t know — the two-year old swallowed something and needed an ambulance, Daddy takes it with him on his “rounds.”

Talk about priorities?!

Any thoughts on this comedy of errors? I’m open to suggestions!

Take care, y’all and keep those feet clean.

Perils of Playing House

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Consider yourself warned.

In this country, anyone wanting to operate a car, truck or motorcycle must pass a test and be licensed. If you don’t have a license, you are not legally allowed to drive. You may spend years in schools obtaining a medical or legal degree, but if you don’t pass the tests for the bar or for the medical specialty of your choice, you cannot call yourself a doctor or a lawyer and if you are caught trying to deceive people into believing you ARE a doctor or a lawyer, you will go directly to jail neither passing GO nor collecting $200.

BUT, any one man and one woman can pair up and, as long as they possess the correct anatomical and God-supplied equipment, make a baby and bring that baby into the world. In doing so, they often deceive people into believing they are, in fact, PARENTS. They are not. They are a sperm donor and a very sophisticated incubator. Making and / or birthing a baby doesn’t make you a parent any more than putting on a lab coat or a powdered wig (in England at least) makes you a doctor or a lawyer.

Therein lies the source of a huge amount of the problems facing the country today. Too many people are running around PRETENDING to be parents when all they are really doing is playing a cruel version of “house” just like kindergartners.

Why yes, I would like to get her started in her mama's footsteps as soon as possible!

If you want to know whether or not I am talking to you or if you should be giving me multiple loud “amen, preach it, my brother” outbursts is simple for me to ascertain with ONE question. Have you ever worried that you were not being a good parent or actually thought you were being a poor parent? If you have dwelt at any length on those statements, you are NOT a bad parent or — at the very least — you are trying. Just the fact that you CARE if you are a good parent or not says volumes.

Two of my favorite former students married, in due time, produced a gorgeous little tow-headed, blue-eyed girl just as pretty as her mama and as much of a smartass as her daddy. Her daddy has gone from being a favorite student to being a dear friend and he has said to me on more than one occasion, usually with tears in his voice, “Coach, I just don’t know if I’m being a good daddy to Lisa.” I tell him every time what I just told y’all, “Mike, the fact that you CARE whether or not you are a good daddy means you are trying really hard to be a good daddy and that is all any man can do.”

Entirely too many incubators and sperm donors today seem –by their actions at least — to view their offspring as accessories like a watch or a chihuahua, or maybe the next logical step in some middle class fantasy plan. Others actually see their children as INCOME producers and keep having them until the government says they won’t pay for any more. Worst of all, however, are those poor fools who see their children as “friends” and not “children.”

Here is a story I have told often and it still flabbergasts me more than ten years later. It illustrates the perils of poor parenting.

My second year as a teacher, I was in on a meeting with a 16-year-old tee-tiny white girl, her mama, the AP, the guidance counselor, and a few other assorted teachers. We were trying to explain to mama that baby-doll wasn’t doing so hot in the academic realm. When it came time for the mama to respond, she didn’t get three sentences out before her daughter spun around and unleashed a torrent at her that turned the air of the conference room a Smurfy shade of blue. This 16-year-old slip of a girl called her mama every name in the book and actually worked herself into such a rage that she had to be restrained and taken from the room.

Mama’s reaction? She put her head in her hands and started moaning about, “I just don’t know what to do with her. I’ve tried so hard to be her friend and get her to like me.”

Even then I was not known for having either volumes of tact or great reserves of self-control so while everyone else in the room (the older, more experienced ones) sat staring at the table, I got up and sat next to the poor woman. I put my hand on her shoulder and she looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes and I told her, “Ma’am, my mama is my best friend in this world. I love her like I love no other. She is 5’2 and weighs 110 pounds in a full winter suit of clothes, heavy boots, and soaked in a swimming pool. She has bad lungs from smoking for years and working in cotton mills. She is a bit past her physical prime. I am 5’10, 250 pounds (I was then anyway) have wrestled, coached wrestling, and fought in full contact karate tournaments. I’m in the prime of my life, but if I — TODAY — let alone when I was 16, said HALF of the words your daughter just said to you to MY MAMA, I know EXACTLY what she would do. She would walk over, pick up that nice heavy metal stool and proceed to disfigure the metal of the stool seat with the bone of my head. Once she had beat me unconscious, she would call Bull Street in Columbia and tell them to come get her son because he had OBVIOUSLY lost his mind. Ma’am, your daughter doesn’t need another FRIEND. She needs a MAMA.”

Well, she got all pissed off and I got another letter in my file, but I stand by what I said to this day. My mama has said many things to and about me and we’ve had our disagreements over the years but at NO TIME has my mama EVER uttered the phrases “I can’t do anything with him” or “I just want him to like me.” Mama never gave one tiny tinker’s damn if I LIKED her or if she was my FRIEND or not, but let me assure you she ALWAYS knew SOMETHING to do with me and it was the thoughts of what she COULD do that kept me on the straight and narrow most of the time.

This doesn't REALLY say "Juicy." It REALLY says "Mom and Dad don't care that perverted old men are going to stare at my butt."

Remember this — You are a PARENT. You RAISE the child. Teachers, pastors, day care centers, and TV stars don’t RAISE your kids. It’s not their job; it’s YOUR job and if you didn’t want it, you should have given little Johnny or Jill or LaKwisha or Jaquan up for adoption to one of the thousands of infertile couples like me and Budge who would love to have a child to raise but can’t. EVEN BETTER, if you didn’t WANT the responsibility of being a parent because it might CRAMP your style, you should have stayed off your back or out of that hotel room or out of the back seat of that car. As I have told more than one young person over the years when they were facing choices about sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll, “If you don’t want to go to Atlanta, don’t get on I-85 South!” Stay on that interstate long enough and eventually you WILL end up in Fulton County, Georgia. Guaranteed.

Hope I didn’t terribly offend anyone, but I’ve just seen some stuff this weekend that has made me question how our species has made it this far! Unfortunately, the ones who need to read this the most will never see it! ***sigh***

Love y’all anyway and keep those feet clean!

Clarification of Terms

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Um, yes, you DID leave me.

Sometimes I hear people using terms and phrases and, as Inigo Montoya puts it so aptly in The Princess Bride, “you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Today’s post is an effort to clarify one such phrase. The phrase that needs clarification is “I left your mother (or your father), but I didn’t leave you.” Now, I’ve heard this little chestnut all my life and it’s always used for one parent to justify the crushed soul of his or her child following a divorce. Please allow me to clarify this term.

“I didn’t leave you” is a baldfaced lie. It’s quite simple and children understand even when adults do not. As a child, if I am sleeping in MY bed and Mommy (or Daddy) is sleeping in her bed and you are sleeping in some other person’s bed then, by definition, you have left me. If two people are in the same location and you walk, drive, fly, or camelback ride away from that location, you leave them both. You cannot leave one without the other.

Now, I realize that you might be feeling guilty and have some inner need to assuage the guilt you have accumulated by ignoring your marriage vows or, in the case of the new unmarried “modern arrangements”, ignoring your parental responsibility, but please don’t confuse a five year old by saying, “I’m not leaving you, I’m leaving X.”

Children aren’t stupid. If you aren’t here and they are, YOU LEFT THEM, and they are very unlikely to ever forget it and it is going to color their experiences throughout life, especially their relationships with the opposite sex, FOREVER. Now, if you can live with that, fine. If not, find some other way to explain away your extramarital dalliance to your children.

Sorry to be so harsh, beloved. Must be the pollen. Yes, that’s it . . . pollen.

So wash those green toes and remember who loves y’all.