All posts by ThirstyDaddy

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard

 

“No legislative body shall enact any measure that pertains to inhibiting or in any way impeding the ability of the citizenship to protect itself from threat, foreign nor domestic.”  – John Quincy Adams.

He didn’t actually say this, I made it up. I made it up but were I to make it into a meme and share it across social media most wouldn’t care about that. Judging by my Facebook feed over the past week it seems that half of you would give it a “like”, happy in the knowledge that our founding fathers agreed that if the Good Lord didn’t want us to be able to possess any and all types of weaponry that we wanted, well, He wouldn’t have made them. The other half would insult my penis size and accuse me of not caring about children.

This too, is untrue, at least I hope it is. I hope that there is a large group of you, a quieter group, that thinks that there should be a way to make us all safer without impinging on anyone’s rights or starting a second Civil War. A group that doesn’t think that this is a “mental health problem” or a “gun problem” and wonders why it needs a label, why there seems to be such a need to automatically divide into two factions and make this an argument. There are problems that need to be addressed with the way that this country identifies and treats those with psychological issues. There are problems that need to be addressed about the ease in which an individual can massacre large numbers of people in a shockingly short amount of time.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why does this have to be so hard?

Maybe the answer is that it is hard, that there is no one solution that would have prevented all of these tragedies, that the answer isn’t as simple as less guns or more guns. That this is both a mental health issue, a gun access issue, and in many cases a parenting issue.

The Sandy Hook shooter was seen at Yale University’s Child Study Center and was diagnosed with multiple psychological disorders, concerns and treatment options voiced to his parents at numerous schools and by numerous mental health workers. His parents resisted all treatment, insisting that their son was gifted and misunderstood. He walked into that school with ten thirty round magazines, allowing him to fire 159 bullets in approximately four minutes. Do you fault the lack of follow up by those concerned that he was a danger to himself and others, the parents, or the access to an AR-15 and extended ammo clips? All three?

The Parkland shooter also had concerns about him documented by social workers, school administrators, mental health counselors, the local police and even the FBI. After a home visit by the Henderson Behavioral Health Department it was determined that he wasn’t a risk to harm himself or others. The investigation into his weapons purchases are still forthcoming as of this writing, but it appears that he was still able to pass the state of Florida background checks necessary to buy ten rifles in the past year, including the AR-15 used in the shooting. The family that he was living with since the death of his mother said they knew he was depressed, knew that he had rifles that he had brought to their house.  The father stated that “I knew he had assault rifle, but I knew he used it out hunting.” When asked if he thought it was fine for a 19 year old to have an AR-15, he responded “It’s his right to have it.”

When asked if he felt differently now : “No, nope.”

A number I’ve seen passed around quite a bit this week is that there have been 18 school shootings so far this year, as of this writing February 21st. This is somewhat misleading, as this number refers to the amount of times that a firearm was discharged on a school property. Of those two were suicides, three were accidental firings, and several more were the results of arguments or attempted robberies in school parking lots. In one case the school was no longer in use. I hate to use the word “only” to say that only three cases met the criteria of a “mass shooting” because that is still three too many, but statistically it’s still safer for my daughter once she gets to school than it is for her as I’m driving her there.

On that drive there are laws that have been put in place for her protection and the protection of others. No matter how warm it was today or how much she would enjoy it, I can’t let her ride in the back of my pickup. I can’t drink mimosas with breakfast and no matter how long it takes us to pick out her outfit I can’t drive as fast as I want. I need to pass several tests before I’m allowed to drive and if I want to drive certain types of vehicles I need a separate license. If I decided not to follow these rules I run the risk of losing that privilege. I’m not allowed to drive a tank.

Ask one hundred people for their ideas on how to make our schools safer and you’ll get a hundred different answers ranging from the completely asinine to the immediately actionable but somehow nothing ever gets done.

Nothing gets done because the solution isn’t just hard, it’s impossible. No one measure is going to work, nothing will ever stop a motivated individual from slaughter.

But we can make things better, make things safer. It will take compromise and sacrifice, an end to finger pointing and name calling. It will take more than meme sharing and thoughts and prayers. It will take admitting that the task is as impossible as ending any other sort of crime but acknowledging that we owe it to our children to try.

That’s all any of us really want in the end. To see our leadership try, to fucking do something other than count their campaign donations and bow to those that pull their strings.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

 

Dressing to Impress – Herself

 

I was a bit nervous sending my daughter off to school this morning. Not for the reasons you might think given the latest school tragedy, I’ll be addressing that in due course once I’ve had time to process it a bit more, but because I was afraid of what my wife was going to say when she saw how I had allowed her to leave the house.

 

dressed to impress
short sleeve over a long sleeve, why not?

 

She’s always been fiercely independent, her first complex sentence uttered being “I’ll do it myself!” It’s a quality that is equal parts impressive and frustrating. It’s encouraged as much as is reasonable but the fact is, there is actually very little that she is able to choose for herself. The amount of autonomy enjoyed at six years old is pretty much limited to what brand of cereal you want for breakfast and what crafts you want to make a mess of while daddy is watching sports.

So I try and let her pick her own outfits and hairstyles, offering suggestions and trusting that there really isn’t a lot in her wardrobe that is going to be too cringe worthy of a combination. She really didn’t need one but we went for a haircut this past weekend, sent her with a ponytail sticking straight up on her head one day, red spray dye staining her scalp on Valentine’s Day.

 

Dressed to impress
not sure what she wanted cut, but whatever

 

Her teacher thinks she’s cute, refers to her as a “modern day Punky Brewster”, a character from a mid-80’s sitcom that I was somewhat surprised she was old enough to reference. For those of you not familiar, the titular child is a clever, spunky foster child with a penchant for very brightly colored clothing and vibrant self expression.

It’s also that self expression that I want to encourage, that confidence. It won’t be that many years before outside influences are going to start to challenge the way that she looks at herself, pressures to dress and and to look a certain way. The time to build a wall against the potential impact of these is now, to make sure that she continues to feel like the only person that she needs to impress, the only opinion that matters regarding her appearance is her own.

Imagine how liberating it must be to always think that you look good, to never have it cross your mind to worry about or even consider the judgments of others.

She won’t be hearing any different from me.

 

 

 

Olympic Ambivalence

 

The 2018  Winter Olympics are now officially underway, the opening ceremonies from Pyeongchang, South Korea were visually stunning, the commentary from Mike Tirico and Katie Couric more restrained and intelligent than is sometimes the case at these events. Other than the awkwardness of Vice President Mike Pence refusing to stand for the united Korean team while sitting next to Kim Jong Un’s sister the spirit of international competition and sportsmanship seems off to a good start.

I’ll confess to having a hard time summoning interest, to finding others that seem interested.

I used to be, used to look forward to these games as much as any other sporting event on the calendar.

1984 was the year that I really first started paying attention. The summer games were held in Los Angeles meaning that all the good stuff happened at times where we could watch it live. I was at my grandparent’s house and that was all we watched the entire week. Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses were setting records, Mary Lou Retton became a house hold name long before just about anybody was able to be and Bobby Knight coached some up and coming basketball players  named Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing to a gold medal eight years before the formation of the first Dream Team.

It was the winter games though, held in Sarejevo, where I first realized how important these were to some people. In those days we got a whole week off from school for February vacation and once again I was spending the week with my grandparents, once again we watched from the opening ceremony on. The star power wasn’t the same, Scott Hamilton and Torvill and Dean the only names that I’d recognize now, but what these games had that the summer didn’t was participation by the Soviet Union, a country hated by my Lithuanian grandparents with a vitriol I was too young to fully understand.

What I understood was that they were the bad guys and the United States were the good guys. I kept a small notebook and studiously kept track of the medal counts, updating it with the results from the previous night every morning. It was years later before we found out that the Easts Germans and Soviet athletes were all artificially enhanced but I remember our disappointment at the American poor showing.

I try to get my daughter interested but other than to ask if I can take her ice skating, skiing or bobsledding some time she just wants to know when we are going to put “her shows” back on. After my promises that there wouldn’t be any more football on Sundays I think she feels tricked. She understands team sports, needs to know which color jersey to root for. Friday night was spent learning about other countries and cultures at a Girl Scout event called “World Thinking Day.” It seems off somehow to follow that up with a weekend of hyper-nationalism.

She’s still a few years too young to appreciate the years of hard work and dedication of these athletes, to marvel at what they are accomplishing, but that doesn’t explain my ambivalence.

I’m as patriotic as the next guy. We said the Pledge of Allegiance before her scouting event, stand for the Anthem and have a flag waving in our front yard. Its fun to hate the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers but don’t need an artificial “bad guy” to appreciate sports or feats of athletic excellence.

The truth is that I don’t know, a somewhat anticlimactic end to this post, I know. Maybe it’s the lack of NHL players in the hockey tournament or any other names that I recognize. Maybe the Korean setting reminds me of the jingoism of our leaders and the apocalyptic consequences that could result from too much national pride. Maybe I’m just sick of this damn winter and don’t feel like watching other people have more fun in the snow than I’ve had.

Anybody else feeling this way?

 

 

Playing to Win

 

There really isn’t a lot of variety in our morning routine around here. I get up at 6:50 to start the coffee and begin shaking out the cobwebs. Alaina wanders downstairs around ten after, dressed and ready for the breakfast that’s usually just about ready. I pack her lunch as she eats, prod her upstairs for teeth brushing and off we go for the ten minute drive across town. Once there we take our place in line, she moves to the front seat while we idle, and we play tic tac toe until it’s her turn to disembark and head inside.

 

 

If you are thinking that playing six to ten rounds of tic tac toe every morning for the past several months sounds extremely boring you are absolutely correct. There is very little variation in the moves that can be executed and as long as both parties are paying even moderate attention to the game, very rarely is there a winner. It’s a good way to prepare her for the long day of focus and concentration ahead. To remind her to think before she acts.

It also drives her insane, much to my amusement. I always give her the first move and even though she’s realized by now that by marking the center square to begin the match it’s almost impossible for her to lose this isn’t always good enough for her. At least once every morning she tries to mix things up and catch me off guard with an alternate strategy, refusing to believe that the only way to win is to play defensively and hope that your opponent makes an unforced error due to a lapse in observation.

It will be interesting to see if she retains this mindset as we graduate to more advanced strategy games. We’ve started playing some Connect 4 and checkers and I look forward to teaching her chess and backgammon. Whether it’s on one of these boards, an athletic field or life in general, I’ve always preferred a more measured, defensive approach, waiting for an opportunity to counter punch or take advantage of other’s mistakes. More Tyrion Lannister than Jaime.

It hasn’t always worked. There are times when fortune does indeed favor the bold, when a direct snap to a running back and a tight end pass to the quarterback makes a coach look brilliant.

Brilliant because the play was successful. There is a fine line between playing a game conservatively and hoping to win and playing a game trying not to lose, a time to attack and a time to retreat. I’ll teach her as best as I can, but fear that I haven’t always chosen wisely. I think that maybe there have been too many times over the course of my life that I have been content to settle for the tie, that opportunity has occasionally passed by because of hesitance. That once again maybe there are things that I could learn from her.

 


 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The Case of the Nail Polish Thief

 

This past weekend was one filled with more drama than I care to normally be a part of. There were tears, tantrums, sibling rivalries and several teachable moments where absolutely nothing was learned. In other words, it was a fairly typical weekend.

It was a theft that had ignited the fires this time around. The six year old completely irate because she had become convinced that her older sister had stolen the new nail polish gift pack that had been a present from my mother this past Christmas. The alleged perpetrator wasn’t home to defend herself, her return not guaranteed anytime soon, so without any real inclination to investigate further I simply assumed that the gift pack had been misplaced and informed her that she was going to have to get over it until such a time as the polish resurfaced. Case closed.

Alaina found this to be a completely unsatisfactory resolution. She had been wronged and she demanded restitution. She demanded justice.

To a child the solution was simple: she would simply steal things from Kayla’s room until such time as she decided that they were even.

Naturally this wasn’t allowed, two wrongs not making a right and all that nonsense that we are supposed to be teaching them.

She stole some deodorant and was given a talk. She stole the Twilight book series and was given a lecture. She stole a candle and was given a warning. When she tried to hide her sister’s guitar behind her bed I took a picture, for evidence naturally, and gave myself a timeout while I laughed at the absurdity of the situation and marveled at her stubbornness in the face of an increasingly aggravated daddy.

 

the nail polish theif
extremely well hidden

 

Eventually I did what I should have done right from the beginning. I walked into the teen’s room, looked around for approximately three seconds and found the nail polish. I neither know nor care how it found itself there to begin with but will give Alaina credit for at least appearing sheepish when asked why she didn’t just take that on one of her multiple raiding missions.

I wish I could say there was at least some sort of lesson learned here. Not to jump to assumptions about the guilt of another, the lack of satisfaction found in revenge, the real life societal costs of the vigilantism celebrated in today’s comic book cultural takeover.

Instead we just got pretty purple nails.

 

the nail polish thief
cant win them all