Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Came online to work on the June issue of my magazine, but something came up and now I'm trying to calm down and find my center so I can work on the finishing touches of the issue.

I have a friend. His name is Doug. We met in 2002 and for a while there was romance, but since last June, we've settled into a friendship only type of relationship. He's 11 yrs younger with a 4 yr-old daughter whom he has full custody of. I've mentioned her. He and I get along fairly well. Our topics of conversation are usually his daughter, my nephews, movies and television--sometimes politics. Mainly see each other a few times a month. Talk every week. There never has been an exchange of the L word. Never. The closest he has ever come is to say I'm amazing.

I asked him last week why didn't he go out and find a girl to romance. That we don't have much in common and he should be with someone who sets him on fire. He didn't give me an answer. I think he probably was taken aback by the question.

But I already know the answer to that. A real girlfriend would put more demands on him. Ask to go out more. Probably question why he doesn't stand up to his mother and get his own place (his mother has pressured him into buying a house for all 3 of them--he wants an apartment). A real girlfriend wouldn't put up with the way he lets Emily's mom--who is a psycho and whom he never married--insert herself into his life in ways that an ex 'anything' shouldn't.

I don't do any of that. It's his life. From our friendship, he gets feminine company, someone mature to talk to and an easygoing person who doesn't care if its movie night or dinner night or 'I'll bring a movie over' night. Who understands when he cancels due to his daughter wanting him to stay home with her or the fact his mother doesn't feel like keeping her and has to bring her along.

How do I feel about him? He is a very good friend. I think he's a great father. He never shrinks responsibilities, works hard and has a goofy sense of humor. He's intelligence and a Republican. I am a Republican and so our views on many social and world issues are the same.

There are a few things I don't like about him but they are easy to deal with. He's a big Beach Boys fan and doesn't understand the 70's. He relates to Hugh Grant and has gone as far as comparing him to Cary Grant. WRONG... not in the same class, not even close. He likes goofy teen type movies and chick flicks...and also I think he's too protective of his daughter.

Don't get me wrong. I know in today's world being protective is important. My sister Lisa would step in right now and say..."You don't have children. You don't understand." An argument would commense with me pointing out I did have a child, even if it was a miscarriage and just because I'm not an active parent like she is doesn't mean I don't have maternal instincts. I've had them since I was 5, because I was put in charge of looking out for her and my brother. Then I would point out all the people I've taken care of all my life and we would be like the Tarot Two of Swords card--at a stalemate.

I was raised by a mother who taught me right from wrong. Who encouraged me to make my own decisions, trusting in me that they would be the right ones. Most of the time they were. She never tried to shelter us, not even my handicapped brother. If we made decisions we regretted, we had to stick with the situation until it was resolved. In other words, 'if we made our bed, we laid in it.'

William is austic but he's a smart little fellow. His social skills are low due to autism. He's in an afterschool program this summer at the daycare Lisa works at. The ages of the class are 6 yrs to 12 yrs. It seems the older kids won't let him play with them and tend to push him around. I'm sure they can see that he's different. And children are cruel. Instead of trying to teach William to defend himself, Lisa has decided to let him stay in the program for a few hours and then brings him to my house after lunch to stay with my brother. She does her best to check on him hourly and if she sees any of the kids near him in the halls, she gives them the evil eye and tells them to leave him alone. I heard her telling him that he should tell his teacher if they bother him.

I think she's wrong to do this. He can defend himself. I've seen him chase Ben down and hit him because he felt Ben slighted him in some way. If he can beat Ben up, he can defend himself against these kids. William needs to learn to stand up for himself or he'll always be a victim of bullies.

This brings me back to Doug. His sister subs at a public school and has told him all sorts of horror stories about public schools. Emily will be in kindergarten this fall. Now he's afraid she'll be tortured if she goes to a public school. His sister's kids are in a private school and he's thinking of putting Emily in it.

He asked my opinion tonight which caused much tension between us... now before I go any further, I'll go on the record by saying that I don't disapprove of Private Schools or even Home Schooling. My opinions are based on what I've witnessed in this area--which is Bible Belt land. So if I offend anyone, I don't mean harm.

This is pretty much what I told him:

I've known people who have used private schools and they've been great experiences. The same goes for home schooling. But I also know some that haven't. I think if you decided to use a private school that you should check it out to see if it's up to standards and so forth...

What I have a problem is ...reasons for using them. The private school Doug wants to use is one with a reputation of daily Bible scripture learning, no talking at all, not even during lunch or during restroom breaks. It's a school that is very strict with little tolerance for going outside the lines. This is the kind of school I have a problem with.

To me, social education is as important as scholastic studies. It's natural to want to cushion your child from the harsh realities of the world. But I think that if you don't allow your child the chance to mingle with children of all races and cultures that in the long run the child will find it difficult to live in the real world. There is no other side of the rainbow or a fairy Godmother. Life is meant to be hard or we wouldn't appreciate Heaven or the things we strive to work for that make life better.

We have to make our children aware of the evils that are out there. That there are good roads to take and there are bad roads to avoid. That there are mean people that will have to be dealt with. Also that there are great rewards for doing moral things. We have to teach children to be the best person that they can be.

I think cocooning them isn't the answer. You can't hide the world from them. Sooner or later it finds them.

I was very adamant to Doug about being pro-public school--and he got upset over it. We didn't argue. But there was a huge awkwardness between us, after he changed the subject.

This happened a few hours ago and I'm still in turmoil over it. Mainly because I feel he's weak. That he doesn't have the strength to deal with the situations Emily will eventually have to face. He thinks sheltering her is a way to keep the world at bay.

I think he's wrong and I think my sister is too... what tools we learn to use during our youth are the ones we'll use in dealing with obstacles in life.

My personal opinion only. None of this is written in stone...ok maybe in my personal stone.


Jo said...

I am a parent... and i do sheild my children from the realities of the world until they reach an age when i feel they can deal with the subject matter involved.

a couple of years ago (he was 7 coming up to 8) my son asked me about Rape... and sexual assualt... why you may ask... because he had seen an item on the news and it had bothered him... he wanted to understand what the news reader was talking baout and why it was on every news bulletin... that was a day when the reality of the world came into his. I gave him a simple explanation and ensured he understood.

Since then i have had to explain many things to him including periods... and another p word that strikes fear into all parents hearts paedohille.

We can sheild our children up to a point. But the reality is that if we dont arm them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and live in the world of today we do our children an injustice.

Jo said...

whoops... i made a big spelling mistake in that comment...

Painter Lady said...

I agree with you. Protection and smotheration (if that's a word) are two very different things.