July 09, 2003

my head is exploding, thanks to g. lawley

I told him I'd post his email for public consumption, so here it is. It's too strange, actually, for me to reply to tonight, since I have to go be a good parent now, but maybe later... For the record, this is written by someone who doesn't blog, which I agreed to post if he emailed it to me, and I think his, well, revulsion with weblogging is maybe part of the misunderstanding.

Maybe it's not possible to understand what it's like to lay it out day after day, sometimes in seconds, sometimes in lifetimes, post after post, and how that makes us---yes---care about one another in a way that does NOT exist exactly the same way in any other online forum. That's just the facts, Jack.

What Gerald reads into one post he reads that way because he's not here like bloggers are here, has not been on this journey. And it's not the same as the New Age chat room or forum--trust me on that.

So, I guess I request that those who come here either read me like a reader (I love readers), or read me like a blogger (I love bloggers), but don't read me like a reader who is trying to be a blogger but doesn't want to be because he doesn't like blogging. That's just fucked up.

There are some unwritten rules of households here, one of which is: Don't come here and shit on me unless you have someplace I can go do likewise. And yes, Gerald, you did shit on me with your rudeness.

Maybe I should take some rude liberties with what's going on in his life, as he did with mine, but I'll refrain. Mostly because I like his wife, who is a blogger. But the from the comment and the advice--I was trying to be funny, by the way--I do think Gerald has the ability to be a judgmental prick. Oh crap, let's just call it what it is: passive aggressive. But that's as far as I'll go.

So here goes, for those who are interested in hearing where G. Lawley was coming from in his comment to my "summertime" post... I thank him for taking the time to set the record straight.

Anyone want to take the time to answer--especially the "trite" comment thing--have at it. Just for the record, mostly we debate these things across blogs---that is one of those unwritten rules. No pain, no gain. That's another.

I'll try to add links in the appropriate places later... duty calls.

P.S. I'm NOT a single mom; I just play one on TV.


I wrote my reply originally in a comment box on your blog. When I went to post it it told me there was a 2500 character limit and that my reply was somewhere in the 9000s (I can't remember the exact number. It was written for public consumption, but not having a blog (or wanting one) and not having access to anything else but email to get the word out, I did what I could.

I have no problem with you posting it in your journal space - it is just that your comments section would not take it. Was that unclear from my post?

Anyway, here follows the post. Blog the hell out of it if you care to. Please post the above comments as well as they answer your intimation that I was trying to be secret with my answer. BTW, can you increase the number of characters that your comments section will accept or do you truly only want short, trite replies to your posts?


Ignoring for the time being all the personal attacks, I wonder if there is room here for a discussion that might help this single mom better cope with her current situation. I have read her posts, as well as George's, and I get it that there are literally hundreds of reasons that this is a difficult situation. I will be presumptuous and assume that these are not
being offered as excuses for not being able to deal with the issues mentioned in the original post. Therefore I will move forward.

I made the statement, "All the problems you have expressed in your post have their solutions in your actions, not the child's." I also gave a suggestion for helping the child get to sleep earlier. George informed me that this had been tried. I had no way of knowing that. Most certainly the suggestion I gave was not meant to be taken as "this is the only thing that will work". I have others, but I will not cut that cookie again.

The tenor of the replies to my comment seem to indicate that I don't have a clue as far as child raising. It was even assumed that I had never had children and that I was a school teacher (and that this was a bad thing because of previous bad experiences with teachers especially those who were mothers). So, for the sake of discussion let's say that all that is absolutely true and that my statements were absolutely false.

So now I have to modify, "All the problems you have expressed in your post have their solutions in your actions, not the child's" to read, "All the problems you have expressed in your post have their solutions in your child's actions, not your own." Does anyone really believe this?

A lot of a child's behavioral patterns are created unconsciously and in very tiny steps. The increments can be so tiny as to escape our attention until a threshold has been reached and we are appalled at what the child "has become". You provided a case in point with the telephone call/picnic basket incident.

When you made the deal with her before the call, you let her know this was very important to you. You expressed exactly what behavior you expected from her during this time. That is good. Yet when she violated that deal, what happened? She was rewarded with a picnic basket. Did she know in advance that this would be the outcome? Most likely, but if not, she certainly knows it now.

I am relatively sure (because I do not believe you to be a malevolent parent) she was disciplined after the fact and that she now understands that such behavior is unacceptable. So now she has conflicting messages and she processes these in a way she best understands at her age - I can perform the behavior and get rewarded with what I really want, but I will have to be talked to about it afterward. What, exactly, is the deterrent to re performing the behavior? I certainly don't have the answer for you in your case, because if I did it would be "cookie cutter". But I present it as my own personal viewpoint, based on my own experience, as a jumping off point for thought and discussion of the problems of child rearing.

You have a lot of sympathetic friends in this forum (I realize I am not one of them). No doubt many of them have confronted the same issues in the past and will have some suggestions that may help you. So far, none of them have
taken the time from beating up on me to make even one suggestion. Perhaps you don't want any. Perhaps you feel you can do this by yourself and it is nobody else's business (but that can't be true, can it? You did you publically journal it). From the description of your life I get from you and George it would seem to me (but only to me) that a bit of help would be welcomed. Is there some reason no one else had suggestions for getting a child to go to bed earlier?

I realize that my tone was what put everyone off. To all of you it probably crossed the border into rudeness, and upon rereading it I even think it did. But given the responses to it, rudeness seems to be the order of the day among this group. Still, I apologize for the tone.

But I think the content of what I suggested is true. And now that you and George have given me a deeper look into your troubled lives I have a hunch that what I wrote about needing to let the child know you are the parent and that if they cannot, of their own accord, exhibit decent behavior, then you will decide what is proper and implement it in an age appropriate way.

It is unfair to your business/ livelihood to have to have a misbehaving child running around while you are trying to work. That is why when you walk into a PR firm in downtown Atlanta you do not find a day care center in the center of the room. It is also unfair to your daughter to not have your attention when you are home with her. I am not pointing a finger here, I am stating the obvious, something you already know all too well. And I realize there might be multitudinous reasons why you think it has to be that way even though you hate it to death. But there are things you can do. I know some (but can't write them here as they would be "cookie cutter") your friends and relatives know some and there are scads of books with scads of suggestions - not answers - suggestions.

Even if you come back at me and say "I have tried all those, I have read all the books and nothing works. This is a special case and nothing is geared toward my situation", I refuse to believe that you have the only child on earth who cannot respond to anything that will solve your problem. That child is a genius (I believe they all have super intelligence) and
creative and highly-spirited and freedom-loving and all the rest of it. But there is a way to solve your problems. And I fully realize you are working on it every minute of every day.

If I lived near you I would offer a play date three days a week, at my house, with my two boys, ages 6 and 9 (to whom I have been a stay-at-home dad since the day the nine year old was born). That would give you some breathing room to get some work done without the distractions. That, in turn, might free you of some of the tensions that seemed to have built up in you, that your daughter perceives ever so clearly, and is learning (as she must) how to use all that to her advantage. That in turn might make the time you spend with her more fulfilling to her (at an unconscious level)
and thus she might be less given to behavior that seeks your attention in a negative way.

That is what I would do given what I am hearing you say, because I KNOW the feelings that are overwhelming you - and then some. I have tried to do part-time database programming and consulting for non-profit and for profit organizations as well as adjunct faculty teaching and teaching gifted kids in our BOCES organization while the boys are running around picking fights with each other and demanding my attention as long as I have it elsewhere.

Then add to that the trials and tribulations of being 52 years old and dealing with those energy levels and the added uncertainty of being someone who always worked to support a family and has now moved into the extremely unknown territory of full-time care giver, not knowing if I will go under or not (this is my second family - I have 26 and 24 year old daughters from a first marriage in which I had to work two 40 hour a week jobs one of which was the ever stressful firefighter/paramedic - come to think of it now, that was a 48 hour a week job. And I could certainly give you just as
many adverse aspects of my situation then as you have given me about yours, but for the sake of brevity, I will refrain) .

George, you said, "I need to vent on someone who represents the things that I dispise (sic) like prejudgement. Nothing personal..."

Vent on me all you want - it ain't me you are angry with. If you truly despise people who prejudge, then I can understand some of your anger at yourself. As you said, without knowing me, you still made this judgement: "that you have never had children or you don't understand variables in personalities, you cookie cutter". (As Rod Stewart sang in ' Every Picture Tells A Story ' - "Look how wrong you can be").

And then this, "I do feel guilty about not being at home." And, "...but according to an American court of law (and my ex-wife) the children don't need a father EXCEPT for financial purposes".

If the anger I am sensing here isn't really there, then I don't want you to vent on me anymore. But if it is the source of much of your anger, then bring it on - if it helps you (as you say it is " ...my daily therapy of shaming someone") and in turn helps your daughter, then I am here for you.

And Shelly, you wrote, "What I can't figure out about you, -g, is why you're hanging around the webloggers when, from this and other comments you've made, you obviously don't care much for any of us? "

That is presumptuous on your part. I don't know any of you enough to not care for you. I only know what you put out in PUBLIC. Weblogs are public space. I have been hanging around in virtual public spaces for a long time. I enjoy it. I have met many friends (whom I value greatly) over the years and even met my wife that way. I never realized you had to "care much" for someone to comment on what they write in public and even ASK for comments on. If you only want comments you agree with, say so up front - not on the backend. I understand you can turn off comments in some of the software.

Observer, you wrote, "Liz needs to give g a little poke... "

Liz has been at Supernova since Monday and won't return until Thursday at which time I would like to give her one as well. It has to be a little one, that's all I got.