20 March 2013

My newest tattoo: The long list of things I have to teach my son

I've been obsessed with the news lately. Scratch that, I've been obsessed with the opinion pieces covering rape issues in the news lately. I don't watch or read news much anymore - actual news is terribly difficult to find. What you can find is a whole bunch of opinions on the news. So I try to find interesting people and read what they have to say about the news. And I'm going to have to go on a news fast soon. Or rather, I'm going to have to go on a blog fast soon.

I don't think I'm going to write yet another opinion to float out there in the world on the whole rape culture issue. The Steubenville case seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue, which is great on one hand because at least there can now be an open discussion about rape…oh sorry, the naive Kerry took over for a second. That's right, this is America, where 20 five year olds get cut to pieces with bullets and within 3 months the country has forgotten and the gun control laws that were proposed as a result of the massacre are projected to fail miserably in Congress. What was I thinking?

A lot of people are writing about this from about a million different angles and if you're like me then maybe you're tired of looking at this issue until it's inside out and upside down, until you've seen every perspective there is to have on this. No, I won't jump on the bandwagon.

There is just this though: tonight I lay with my boy in the dark as he tried to put himself to sleep and I had my hand on his back and he is so damn small and precious and innocent and I tried to imagine a situation where he's 16 and I've discovered that he's raped a girl and posted pictures of it on facebook and made a video about it that goes viral. And now he's been found guilty and I'm visiting him in Juvy. I tell him I love him because I do and my heart is a mess of contradiction because he also disgusts me and I also don't recognize him and "I taught you better than that," I'd say. And I might throw myself on the floor and start screaming and never stop.

So add this to the long list of things I have to teach my son and tattoo it on my leg or something.

1. Be kind, respectful, compassionate
2. Be brave
3. Give, Offer, Help, Extend
4. Love matters most
5. Words matter next
6. Seek your joy
7. Form an opinion when you have ALL the information, and even then, only if you must
8. Eat some vegetables for the love of George
9. In matters of school, art, business, and career: it is always better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission
10. Never stop educating yourself
11. Travel often
12. Take risks
13. Don't rape people. "No" means no. "I don't know" means no. Silence means no.

I just can't imagine. I can't imagine being that parent. Discovering that kind of a divide in what my values are and what my child's values are. I pray for a lot of things. I pray my kid doesn't end up joining the tea party, I pray my kid doesn't end up a religious fundamentalist (I know, ok pray is maybe the wrong word here), I pray my kid doesn't end up hooked on drugs, I pray my kid can make it through the soul crushing adolescent years and standardized testing. Do I now also have to pray my kid doesn't rape someone? Doesn't number 1 on the aforementioned list cover "Don't rape people"??

This is how I feel about parenting a million percent:

I found this meme here.

So what I am wondering is do other parents feel this way? Do parents in Steubenville feel this way? If so, how did this happen to you? I honestly don't understand. I'm also trying desperately to learn from those mistakes, to key in on some absolute fundamental parenting wisdom that would allow me to avoid being one of those parents. This is something like empathy for them. Mainly because I'm trying hard not to blame them outright.

I have this beautiful small child in my care…you know hitler was a 3 year old once. He was probably very sweet and adorable…WTF was up with his mother you guys? That's what I want to know. She had to have been a seriously messed up individual right?

So in the case of the Steubenville kids and their parents - was there a disconnect in values? Scratch that. I don't want to know. I'm on a news fast now, officially.

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