Sense and Sensibility and Snark

I’ve often thought of starting an advice column. You don’t need a degree for common sense, right? Sometimes I think that too many degrees, certifications, and the like can actually keep common sense at bay.

Is your mother-in-law a nosy cat intent on destroying your marriage to her saintly child? Kindly tell her to go to hell, or not so kindly. Your choice. Probably not at Christmas or anything, but December 26th is a good day to do the deed. Co-worker trying to destroy your life?  Ask them what you did to make them hate you. Get to the bottom of issues!  Then, in the most professional way possible, tell them to kindly fuck off.

I’m inspired by people like Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (who were sisters). They gave sound advice to thousands, if not millions of people.  Ann once said, “Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you’re wonderful.” I love this!

And while I am duly impressed by the likes of Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, and Ask Amy, I wouldn’t be fluffy with my advice. Oh no, my advice column would be more of the snarkier variety. Honest yet blunt… caring yet, well, um, blunt. Blunt with a side of snark. That’s my motto!

Is your significant other cheating? Give that low-down, lying schmuck the boot! Kick ‘em to the curb, I say! You deserve better!

Old high school classmate filling your Facebook inbox with essential-oil business opportunities? Block them! So what if it’s your husband’s sister!?  Block that pyramid scheming, MLM-spewing huckster! You don’t need that kind of stress in your life!

Just think, if I wrote under a pen name, there would even be a chance of that crazy ex-relative of mine writing to me and I could tell them to stop being such a self-absorbed narcissistic prat with too many cats!

Naturally any money I made would go towards extensive liability insurance, but it would be sooo worth it.

Are you a good person stuck in an awful situation? Write to me and let me help you sort it out! You see, there’s no room for unbiased perspectives in my column. I would stick up for the letter writer, always. Everyone needs someone on their side. Unless of course, they were an obvious asshole, in which case I would let them know in no uncertain terms that they’re the problem and should maybe find a mirror for some deep introspection.

I imagine myself firing away on a typewriter (they still make those, right?) and sending common sense advice out into the universe, making the world a better place.

I probably wouldn’t tell anyone about my column. It would be my secret, hence the aforementioned pen name. I would simply enjoy the fact that anyone I passed on the street might be someone who wrote to me. I might even hear the person behind me at Starbucks telling a friend about the wonderful advice they’d received from Miss Anonymous Snarky McSnarkpants… it was just the kick in the ass they needed to change their life!

And I would take my drink and walk home, smiling to myself. I’m a hero.

Bad Parenting 101

I am a bad parent. Everyone says so. It must be true. My children were raised with empathy (oh my god!), compassion, lots of books, more hugs than you can count, and the idea that knowledge is paramount. Having these lessons also instilled in them a sense of independence and, I hope, a feeling of self-worth. They are certainly both individuals that I respect. And there I go again. As a parent, I should be proud (which I am, big time) but very few parents express respect for their children, especially if they’re young children. But there you go. I’m a bad parent. Just ask anyone.

In this crazy household of free thinking, my kids have come to find their own path in religion as well as other things. My son Jake leans towards Zen Buddhism though he can debate the philosophies and merits of pretty much any belief system. With his intelligence and insightful nature, it’s not surprising he is drawn to Zen Buddhism; it fits him very well.

So far my daughter Sarah is an atheist. I say so far, not to belittle her way of thinking, but because she’s only 14 and very well may change her mind. If she doesn’t, I say good for her. Everyone needs to find their own way.

Even as a small child Sarah has always known her own mind and while some parents would attribute that to insubordination or disobedience, I’ve encouraged this behavior. In a world chocked full of mindless followers, possessing a streak of independence is more than okay by me. It’s made for interesting times, that’s for sure. And many trips to school. I’ve definitely had my share of chats with teachers. Not due to behavior, because Sarah is always well-behaved in school, but rather because if she realizes an answer is right or a teacher is wrong, she won’t back down from the truth.

For instance, I had to have an extremely bizarre conversation with a 4th grade science teacher about Okapis and how they do in fact exist in the real world; they are not the stuff of imagination like unicorns and mermaids. Did I mention this was a science teacher? Sarah had brought up Okapis in class one day and had been told plainly that she was wrong and had made them up. Not one to back down, Sarah insisted Okapis could even be found at the Baltimore Zoo (which is where we had seen one). Sarah’s insistence on the poor Okapi’s existence won her a note home and me a trip to school. It was a true testament to the quality of our school system but also a prideful moment in that Sarah wasn’t intimidated by an authority figure into believing she must somehow be wrong when she knew she was right. Perhaps I am a bad parent after all because instead of lecturing her on the merits of “going along” or how “teachers are always right,” I commended her for sticking to her guns in spite of her natural reticence.

I’ll admit that they’ve both tried my patience over the years and some of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had with anyone ever, have been with my kids. Especially Jake. But then, I’ve also had the most stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with Jake as well. I’ll happily take it all. I can certainly understand why his teachers both loved and hated him though. He’s intelligent enough to seriously debate all sorts of topics which is a good thing. However he’s never been much of a follower and therefore draws his own conclusions, which, in a teacher’s eyes, isn’t exactly a good thing. Most teachers want students who simply repeat the lesson’s objective verbatim, not those who think for themselves. Jake’s open mind and intelligence with which to back it up was a source of exasperation for his teachers I’m sure. Let’s just say I’ve attended some pretty noteworthy parent/teacher conferences in my lifetime. But then, in our school district, Okapis don’t exist. So you can see what we’re contending with here.

Suffice it to say, no matter what I do in life, my kids are my greatest source of pride. They’ve turned out pretty well in spite of my bad parenting. I’ll gladly (and very selfishly) take the credit for how they turned out….but, and maybe more importantly, I’ll even more gladly take the blame for what others perceive as flaws. In my opinion, the world needs fewer “cookie cutter” personalities and more free-thinkers.

So to those who call me a bad parent (and you know who you are), go ahead. I’m the worst…and couldn’t be happier about it.

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime