Unlikely Plaything

Kids can be so cute, can’t they? The way they have endless curiosity about everything they see; their exuberance over new experiences that we have grown jaded to and take for granted; the wide-eyed openness to everything the world has to offer regardless of how taboo, odd, or grotesque. They’re simply amazing.

Take this video of a little girl traipsing around her front yard playing lovingly with a dead squirrel:

If it were a doll or a stuff animal or a photo of a family member I’d be letting all sorts off oohs and awwws escape my mouth. The only thing holding me back from sharing in her happiness is that it’s a freakin’ dead squirrel! Mouth agape, eyes rolled back in its head, limbs hanging heavy, neck slack, this squirrel is deader than dead. And recently dead. As in their dog just killed the poor thing. So of course, why not let the kid play with it. It’s the natural order of things, right?

I don’t wag my finger at the girl, though. She’s so young, she obviously doesn’t understand what her newest toy actually signifies. I’m more angered at the parents. The Dad who saw this as the perfect opportunity to grab a camera and film his daughter being so oblivious that it’s “cute” and the Mom who can only stand there, hands on her hips and smirk on her face, looking at the camera with an inner monologue that screams, “Don’t kids just do the darndest things!?” What is wrong with these parents?

You don’t have to agree with me, but in my opinion the Gods that be (or whoever you want to name) just gave them an absolutely perfect teaching opportunity about oh, I don’t know, empathy, compassion maybe, life being a sacred thing, and they squandered it. This could have been a prime moment to impress upon their child a lesson about the sanctity of life, the inevitability of death, and the respect that we can show the dearly departed. But no. What do they do instead? They mock the animal that tragically lost its life (in the jaws of the family dog no less…not even a natural death) and turn what could be a window into the frailty of life into playtime. The little girl sees the squirrel as a toy (again, not blaming her for this because she’s too young to know any different) and the parents just go along with this little show, encouraging it even — with the Dad calling the dog into his video masterpiece so he could introduce “the killer and the killed.”

I could also go off about the fact that his kid is rubbing a dead carcass all over her naked chest and the obvious health implications of that. I’m not saying that the squirrel definitely has fleas or a virus or a disease or whatever, but until I’m 100% certain a wild animal corpse isn’t going to pass along some transmittable illness, I wouldn’t want my kid laying a finger on it let alone using it for playtime. But I’ll let the other YouTube comments harp on that point.

My main concern centers around this one question: Where is the empathy? Clearly not with the parents and because of what they are either knowingly or unknowingly passing on, the kid has none either. What message does this send to their child? Sure, it’s all fun and games for now, but I wonder what they’ll do when she drags home a dead dog to play with.

Road Trip

So life has been a bit stressful lately — nothing that won’t get better in time, but enough to wear on the nerves.  I live in a somewhat rural area and most of the time I find it annoying that it takes a while to get, well, anywhere.  But today…even though I couldn’t open the windows due to the frigid weather, I found that one should never underestimate the therapeutic nature of an open country road and some very loud music.

Open Road

 

 

The Locked Door

Like many of us, my daughter suffers from anxiety. Being a teenager there’s what seems like a never-ending list of reasons why her mind could be thrown into a tizzy. Her main source of anxiety comes from school. No, it’s not the academic workload or fretting about standardized tests that hammer home the fear that how you perform will shape your future. She’s an Honor Roll student who excels in the classroom. What she finds stressful are the crowds, the thronging mass of other teens jostling and ricocheting off of each other in the hallways. It’s an everyday, unavoidable occurrence between each period (unless they build her a network of secret underground tunnels, which I don’t think is quite in the school’s budget). Not to mention the annoyance of sharing classroom after classroom with kids who basically do not want to be there and who do not share the same tolerant mindset she has for her fellow human beings.

Well, her anxiety recently got worse due to a safety precaution her school is now taking, or rather, a teacher’s explanation of it. The semesters changed over this past month so classes and teachers also changed. On the first day, a new teacher of one particular class explained that she keeps one of the two doors to her classroom locked because they are the first classroom in the hall and if a madman with an Uzi comes into the school guns blazing, it will be more difficult for him to come busting in their room, spraying rounds. Now I’m all for keeping kids safe. That I have no problem with. I question the teacher’s sense in explaining the reasons behind the locked door, but apparently she felt the kids were old enough to take the news and process it accordingly.

However, this brilliant educator of children went on to voice her opinion that since the door was just a flimsy little piece of wood, the shooter could kick it in rather easily or else simply shoot through it. And what with the second [unlocked] door only about 10 feet down the hall, if the gunman wants to get in, one silly locked door isn’t going to stop him so “either way we’re all screwed anyway.”

I’m just not sure what the hell this teacher was thinking divulging this info to the kids and putting this heinous idea into their heads. She could’ve just said, “I keep that door locked at all times” and end it there. They don’t have to necessarily know it’s to slow down a psycho with a semi-automatic assault rifle, because once that possibility is raised, it can be a little difficult to erase.  Then, by all means, let’s take away even that tiny bit of a safety net by saying it’s completely useless.

This possibility, that someone could be kicking into the classroom at any given moment (because sadly this is the world we live in now)…let’s just say that has not helped my daughter with her anxiety whatsoever.  And she can’t be the only one. Kids nowadays have so much to be anxious over and this is just one more thing to stress about. School, much like home, is supposed to be a safe place. Only it isn’t. You think kids don’t know that?  They know it more than anyone else.

The school itself locks all of its external doors which is a good thing. They do what they can, as most schools do, and that makes me feel better as a parent.   I just don’t quite understand the teacher’s need to give such tragic disclosure. We know why cars have airbags and don’t need commercials showing someone flying through a windshield. We know why we own fire extinguishers and don’t have to be shown pictures of people burning alive.

All I’m saying is that while I appreciate the safety measures being taken I think spelling out the potential consequences can be a little unnecessary – especially given the teacher’s added personal commentary. It seems to me that adding stress to an already stressful situation (high school) could be a little counterproductive to the whole learning experience.

Veggie Woes

Ask me if I’m vegetarian and I’m not exactly sure what I’ll say on any given day. I try, but I fail as often as I succeed. I think it’s easier to be a vegetarian if you truly don’t like the taste of meat, which is not me. Some meat is really tasty so I have no physical aversion to it.

So I’m not trying to be vegetarian because I look at meat and think, “Ewww, that looks gross.” I’m trying to go vegetarian for ethical reasons and while my intent is strong, my will power is weak. I’m not going to lie; it’s a bit of a struggle. I was raised with meat as a pillar of a balanced diet. The necessity of meat has been drilled into me from a lifetime of food choices. I’m trying to change the patterns I’ve learned over the decades, but it’s hard and I’m far from perfect. Though I am making progress I’m glad to say.

When my resolve does start to cave I like thinking about a dear friend of mine who is a devout vegetarian for spiritual reasons. She believes that every animal has a soul and, by God, you just don’t eat something with a soul. It all seems so simple to her—this kooky no-soul-eating concept— that I just sit back and admire her. Her devotion and conviction are unflappable. I wonder how I can get to be like that. It’s not that I don’t share her beliefs. I’m totally on board with the idea that all animals have souls, but still, I’m fighting a deeply engrained sense of eating normalcy from my childhood. Or maybe that’s a cop-out and I’m just weak-willed. Regardless of the reason, I’m trying. I’m trying yet failing which buries me in guilt because I can’t practice what I preach.

Having a somewhat imaginative mind I’ve wondered what would happen if someone lived her entire life 100% meat free and living a spiritually clean life respecting all animals around her until the day some villainous ne’er-do-well slipped a piece of meat in her food without her knowing. Or what if she eats a salad that unbeknownst to her had some meat by-product in it? Whatever the circumstance, the lifetime of being ethically nutritious comes crashing down unexpectedly. Should she be consumed by guilt? Is her soul at risk? Personally, I don’t see how. Shouldn’t it be the true intent and not the accidental act that matters? She still gets a primo seat in the cushy part of the afterlife as far as I’m concerned.

But me? I know exactly what I’m eating when I’m eating it. I know when I have meat on my plate. I can’t plead ignorance. This is perhaps more evidence to add to the ever-growing list as to why I’m going to the fiery underworld after I leave this earth. If you’re interested in perhaps joining my friend in the VIP section of the afterlife, I’d start by reading her blog. She has a quick wit and a real way with words. You won’t be disappointed.

If you want to join me in the afterlife spitfire, go get yourself a Double Down Dog and I’ll see you there.

My Future

I have a strong feeling that my demise will come about by my being sarcastic in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be a big surprise if my obituary were to read: passed suddenly after a brief confrontation in which she just could not keep her smart-ass comments to herself.

 

Eternal Love

Everyone knows I’m a bit strange when it comes to love stories.  I’m drawn to the “odd” ones you find in horror movies or action flicks…yet I also feel a kinship to those told through tales like Pride & Prejudice and The Notebook.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to like every chick flick out there though…there aren’t too many chick flicks I do like actually.  For a while now I’ve been seriously crushing on Ava and Boyd from Justified and hoping their relationship survives the season finale. If you don’t watch the show, suffice it to say they’re not your average couple. They’re more along the lines of a criminally hardcore Bonnie and Clyde. As I said, I’m a bit off. That’s okay. I embrace my weirdness.

But back here in the real world, who doesn’t want eternal love? It does exist. I’ve seen it. My parents for one. They’ve been married just shy of forever and while they bicker, they still hold hands to cross the parking lot. I’ve also seen it with my grandparents who met later in life (it was a second marriage for my Grandmother whose first husband, my Mom’s father, died in the mines), but most definitely married for love. My Grandfather had his hands full with my Grandmother (she was a spitfire and then some) and he loved her all the more for it. I don’t think there’s anything he wouldn’t have done for her.

And then I came across this article today, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  I’m sure the newspaper planned it that way on purpose. A feel good story for Valentine’s.  But truly, it is indeed inspiring.  For here are the stories of individuals whose love is so strong that it withstands all odds – for even when their better half is lost within themselves so deeply that they cannot remember the shared love, the lives intertwined, or even their own names – the devotion never wavers. Alzheimer’s Disease is a horrendous illness.  It invades your mind; it steals your memories. But the men profiled in this editorial are not willing to let go of their wives to the likes of Alzheimer’s, because while their spouses may not remember, they do.  If that’s not eternal love, I don’t know what is.

The Golden Ticket

The Powerball Jackpot this week is estimated at $500 million, a measly $337 million if you take it in cash.  People always say money will change you.  I don’t think that’s true.  If I ever won a Powerball Jackpot like that, I wouldn’t change. I’d still be me. My poor decisions on the other hand…now those would become the stuff of legends.