Monday, March 31, 2008

My (very long) Diatribe on Rotten People

There are days that really shake my faith in humanity.

Working at a chain portrait studio, I see many families and parents interactions with their kids. To be honest, most people are great with their kids, but those who are not really make me question what is going on in the world - and more specifically - why God even allows some people to reproduce.


Easter was a great example. Three women came in with the intention of getting a picture of all their nieces and nephews together for the first time. There were twelve kids ranging from 17 years old to one year old. One of the boys I’m guessing was around six or seven years old and appeared to have Down Syndrome. He was adorable and very sweet, but easily distracted.

Once I had all the kids arranged for a photo, this little guy noticed his cousin's pig tails with those big round bauble bands. He reached out to touch the baubles and the gathered hair, and instantly all the grownups shouted, “Stop touching her! Leave her alone!” That seemed harsh to me but I minded my own business.

We got him settled and posed again, and he went for an older girls’ earrings. She spun her head around and screamed, “Don’t touch me! Stop touching me!” and the adult women joined in chastising the boy for being naturally curious.

Everyone settled again so I could finally snap the first picture. “Okay everyone, big smiles.” At that point the three year old boy in the front scrunched up his face and became nothing but teeth! Hilarious! I was about to approach him and show him how to turn down his smile but his mom got to him first. She stuck her finger in his face, gritted her teeth and yelled, “DON’T you make your face like that. YOU TRY TO LOOK NORMAL! Or I'm gonna.... ”

Holy cow lady! The kid is three. That’s not going to make him smile.

Sure enough, big fat tears roll down his now, bright red face. His face is really scrunched up now. Thanks for making my job easier. That’s not my real concern. I’m more concerned about how these kids are treated at home.

But now that I have a bawling kid, I turn to the magic trick I discovered for three year olds with over-anxious parents. I grab a tissue, get down on the kid’s level and hand it to him. “That’s okay buddy. I’ll wait for you to dry your face. You let me know when you’re ready okay?”

I’ve found that this allows the kid to regain some of his/her personal power. They dry up much faster and screw up their courage to find their inner big kid. While I wait, I contemplate strangling their parents. Argh!

Next I sat down at the computer to work on the photos while the family waited. The little boy with Downs came over to watch and ask questions. I pointed to him in the pictures and said things like, “There’s a picture of you. Don’t you look handsome?”
His mom came over and said, very curtly, “Leave the lady alone!!”
I didn’t even look at her. If I made eye contact I might rip her head off. I said, “Oh he’s fine right here. We’re having a good time.”

Now I can understand that a kid with a disability can be frustrating. I sympathize with anyone faced with the challenge. But this kid wasn’t being difficult. He wasn’t even being challenging. He was acting like a four-year-old in a seven-year-old body.

What I can’t understand is the boy’s own family treating him so badly. I don’t condone it but I understand someone who has never encountered a kid with a disability treating them less than humanely – but the kid’s own family? I can’t wrap my head around it.

Forget the disabilities. There are plenty of parents out there who are just plain idiots.

Case in point - a couple who came into the portrait studio with their two-year old daughter a while back. Things went about as well as you can expect a photo session with a 24 month old kid to go.

Ever since I started taking kid’s pictures I have declared that photographing two-year-olds is ‘ambush photography’. They don’t stay still for more than a millisecond; their attention span is only twice as long as that. Just shoot and hope you get something!

As you can imagine, they didn’t get many pictures. My co-worker shot the session and the girl kept running into my camera room to see the cute baby boy.

Anyway, as the parents waited for my co-worker to edit and enhance the pictures the dad kept saying to the little girl. “You disappointed mommy.” “We wanted to buy a lot of pictures for your grandparents, but you didn’t do a good job. Now we can only buy one picture.”

WTH?!?!? You’re laying a guilt trip on a TWO-YEAR-OLD??! For what… acting like a two year old? She didn’t do anything bad. She’s two!

He didn’t just say it once. He nagged and nagged about it. To a 2-year old!!!

They had about a 20 minute wait, so dad had to wrangle her for a little while. Because, like a typical two-year old, she was exploring everything. She went over to another little boy – just curious – that’s what kids do – and dad starts in with. “Leave that boy alone. He doesn’t want you to bother him.”

At this point I spoke up. Without looking at him I said. “Wow, you’re really getting her ready for therapy in fifteen years aren’t you?” He found it funny and agreed.


Then she wandered across the hall where there was another kid. Dad went after her and in a few minutes called to his wife, “Come get her. She won’t go.” The wife called back. “Yes she will.” “No she won’t. You have to come get her.”

Seriously. First you micromanage every move she makes. Then you can’t function like an adult and have power over your child? Why do people like this even get to reproduce?

Poor kid.

Later that night I stopped into a video store after 10:00pm. There was a little girl following her mom around as she looked for movies. Check that. The kid was bossing her mom around. At all of 2.5 feet tall she couldn’t be more than four years old.

First of all: What is she doing up and out at 10pm? I’m not a parent so maybe this is reasonable to someone else. Please enlighten me.

Suddenly she was behind the checkout counter clacking away on a keyboard. I caught her eye and said kindly, “Should you be touching that? Do you think it might mess something up?” “No.” she said.

There was a worker behind the counter and he didn’t seemed bothered by her behavior. I figured maybe he knew her mom.

Then she went over to the next computer and started clacking. The man said, “Don’t touch that one sweetheart. It’s a special computer.”
“Yeah” she said, “special for kids.”

This is not precocious. This is a child that doesn’t know boundaries. I know that my brother and sister and I and all of our cousins would never have DREAMED about going behind the counter in a store! Not even in my uncle’s grocery store. Not in a million years!! We wouldn’t even open our aunt’s refrigerator for a soda. It’s just not done.

At the portrait studio, we have a stash of DVDs in a file drawer to entertain the kiddos. One day while a family was waiting their turn, the kids (like age five or under) walked right up to the file drawer, opened it and took out a movie.

I was astonished! Who does that?

I know kids today are being raised with a sense of entitlement… but jeepers… no boundaries.

I know. It’s easy for me to say. I don’t have children so I can’t know what it’s like. But come on. They’re little people. Plus, I was a kid once. It’s not that hard to remember what it’s like in their little shoes.

But here I sit - 37, single and childless – and these morons get to breed. I need to start praying for them every night.

It's all downhill

Oh am I sore!

I finally got to go skiing for the first time in THREE YEARS! Even better – I got to go with my 17 year old niece, L.

It all started when I told my family that I wasn’t coming home for Christmas. The proverbial shh hit the fan. I reminded them that the interstate runs both East AND West and they are welcome to come out here any time. I mentioned to my niece in particular that I have mountains here, and that most people actually consider them quite appealing and worth a 10 hour drive.

I also reminded my brother that since I left home in 1988 he has never come to any town that I have lived in to visit me or see my home. Isn’t that all kinds of wrong?

About a week later my brother called saying that he thought about what I said. He realized on top of that, that he has never taken his kids on a family vacation either. It’s about time to teach them to ski before the oldest leaves home.

Yee haw.

ey drove out on Thursday, got everyone lessons on Friday, then Mr. Burns and I joined them on Saturday to ski at Breckenridge.

Niece L is a most promising skier. Mr. Burns is a great teacher and unbelievably patient. Quite frankly I feel he could coach anyone in anything! So Mr. Burns and I took Niece L up some Green/Blues (yeah on the second day she ever wore skis!) and Mr. Burns guided her out of the ridiculous snow plow position that the instructors teach beginners.

Pretty soon, she was turning naturally, gaining control and displaying great instincts. I was so proud! The kid is rock star!

Poor thing though, she worked so hard that she is terribly sore – sporting bruises and believes she threw her back out. But she’s thinking about coming to Colorado for college so I couldn’t be happier!

Also, this was the first time anyone in my family got to meet Mr. Burns. They were appropriately impressed by his kindness and good nature. My mom reports that my brother told her in a phone conversation that Mr. Burns is a really nice guy – undoubtedly a man of great quality. Since Mom hasn’t met him yet, she was so thrilled to hear this!

Since we spent the most time with Niece L, she really seems to like him too! (Niece T and Nephew C were under their parents’ wings on the mountain.) She was so grateful for his patience as a teacher and she managed to gang up with him to pick on me… so that’s a great sign.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Joy

I missed the joy and the glory of Easter this year.
Normally I look forward to the pure joy of the resurrection of Christ. Particularly after a long and arduous Lent. I expect to feel renewed.

This year – I got nothing. I was scheduled to work all day Sunday and it really messed with my joy. You’re not supposed to work on Easter. You’re not supposed to put other people in a position to work on Easter. Remember the days when everything was closed on Sundays? No one DREAMED of being open on Sunday, much less a significant religious holiday!

Anyway, I woke up annoyed that I had to work as soon as Easter Mass was over and it was all downhill from there!

I stayed at Mr. Burns house Saturday night since we were going to Mass at his church. When he heard me go into the bathroom and saw the light under the door, he greeted me through the door… “Good Morning!” I couldn’t muster much and only managed “Hi.” But if you’d heard it, you would have cracked up as Mr. Burns did. It was a short, whiney ‘hi’, like that from the mouth of a four year old who had been waken from deep slumber and had his favorite teddy bear taken away! As soon as it came out my mouth, we both cracked up. It was so pathetic!

Then we drove separate cars to church so I could go straight to work from Mass. I got there ahead of time so we could be assured seats. When I arrived there seemed to be plenty of room but appearances were deceiving as the one person in each pew was trying to save the entire row! ( don't get me started on how wrong this practice is!)

I went to the pew where we usually sit. There was a little old lady on the opposite end and a man with a baby in a car seat on the end where Mr. Burns and I normally sit. He looked at me and spread his jacket out further indicating that he needed the space. I looked in the rows ahead, seeing people I recognized, knowing how many people they were expecting. I turned back to the man with the baby and said, “My boyfriend is the lector. We need to be close.” He moved over, it seemed to me he rationalized that we were just two people.

A few minutes later, his sister found him. The two of them and the baby got up to leave, his sister excusing herself passed me saying, “Our family is too big.” Well then I felt bad, but they were already off. The pews around us had filled in further and I don’t know where they went to.

I felt really bad. But then I reasoned… a person can only be expected to save one, maybe two seats. If you need 15 seats, bring 5 people to save them!

Then Mr. Burns arrived, knelt next to me to pray then got back up to arrange the scripture book and consult with the priest and deacons. So there I was, trying to save a seat as the church got packed. People moved into my pew and filled it… and I still had my space and one for Mr. Burns. Then I had to start turning people away. I hate doing that. Suddenly I was really irritated with Mr. Burns for leaving me alone in our seats.

By the time he finally came and sat down I was super irritated. So Easter was off to a lousy start.
Throughout Mass my mind jumped from the strain in my relationship with Mr. Burns to the job interview I had the next day to all myriad of things. Ugh. I realized that I was unhappy.

Unhappy on Easter.

Mr. Burns walked me to my car after Mass and asked if I was okay. I burst into tears. I told him I just didn’t feel happy. On top of that my stomach was growling and I realized that since I was the only one scheduled to work that I wouldn’t be able to take a break and get food. Super ugh. So off to work I went, unhappy and hungry.

I got to work and opened the store. The server was down so immediately I was on the phone with Tech Support. What a great Easter.

Suddenly I looked up and there was Mr. Burns with a lunch cooler full of snacks for me. He brought me a sausage sandwich… his breakfast specialty… a sausage patty between an English muffin. ( It would be remiss not to mention that it's the special way that he butters the muffin that makes it so great.) He also made Shells and Cheese for lunch. And packed a bag of corn chips for a snack and some Dove chocolates for dessert. He prepared all this neglecting to make breakfast for himself!

And did I mention he had to drive 12 miles just to bring it me before turning around and driving another 12 back to make breakfast for himself? What a guy!

Suddenly the day was better and some of my joy had returned.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Horton Hears a Who

I just read it for the first time. Seriously.
I keep seeing Jim Carey promoting the animated movie and it looks so terribly cute. Those interviewing him keep referencing the story and I just felt a little in the dark.

Then this morning I remembered that the last time I went home to visit family, Mom and I went through some old books and school papers from childhood. I remember grabbing an old Dr. Seuss book or two. Knowing that they were my older sisters’ and probably pretty close to first edition, I wanted to be the one to preserve them even if I wasn’t really a big fan of Dr. Seuss when I was a kid.

So this morning, I looked on the shelf where I stacked these old books. Any chance one of them was Horton?

Imagine my surprise to find only one Dr. Seuss edition. And in fact, Horton Hears a Who!

I read it. Aloud. I got totally worked up and excited. I was wholeheartedly behind Horton’s noble mission. I was a little bit terrified when the eagle dropped the Whoville clover in the giant field of clovers. I noticed the illustrated Horton watching from the cliff, his face full of shock and dismay. I felt as dejected as he. How would he ever find that speck in the field of fuzzy pink clovers?

My world was transformed as it should have been when I was seven. Somehow Seuss didn’t speak to me a kid. But I sure got the message this morning!!

Wow! What a book! The illustrations that I found lackluster in my childhood are so full of emotion and vivid expression. The language that as a child I found a bit annoying – is so rhythmic and fluid and fun to read aloud! Amazing!

Looking back, I don't remember anyone reading it to me. I was a good reader, and as the third and youngest child (who, as my mom would say, was really good at keeping herself entertained) I was often left to read and explore on my own. So without adult interpretation, Seuss was lost on me. I have just discovered Dr. Seuss. And it is good!

Now I really can’t wait for the movie!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Four Things

My cuz tagged me on a Four Things questionaire.
Here goes:

Four jobs I have had in my life: Waitress, Wedding Videographer (ugh!), News Reporter/Anchor, DJ at Campus Radio Station in College.

Four movies I would watch over and over: A Little Princess, Bridget Jones Diary, Cindrella Man, Say Anything (heck anything with John Cusack).

Four places I have lived: Lincoln, NE; Rapid City South Dakota; Omaha, NE; Denver, CO

Four TV Shows that I watch: Medium (if you haven't watched it - start! It's awesome!), LOST, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives

Four places I have been: Jamaica; San Francisco, CA; Cape Cod, MA, Ozarks, Arkansas (yeah really!)

Four people who e-mail me (regularly):Christine, Kimberly, Mr. Burns Michelle

My favorite foods- Eggplant Parmesean Sandwich, Veal Saltimboca I know, I know but I'm allergic to chicken!! , any Dead Pig, anything with Aritchoke as a featured ingredient

Four places I would rather be right now: With Mr. Burns, Seattle, A beach - anywhere, visting my family.

Things I am looking forward to this year: Summer - all three very short months of it, My birthday (summer), Getting a job, three little words.