Monday, December 8, 2008

Probably, this will ramble and meander.


I haven't written a post since before Thanksgiving, and I apologize. The holiday was lovely, we spent it with Pete's family. They are really a very warm and accepting group of people. I love them. They always have people there that aren't exactly family, but who are close friends, and it makes me smile to know that I am a part of this cherishable (Google tells me this isn't a word. I don't care.) group. Of course, they are also a bit loud, and coarse. They yell a lot, they fling around the f-bomb the way Valley Girls use "like," and they're opinionated. Obviously, this is what attracted me to them in the first place. I like to argue, but I don't like to fight. I like to get into the heat of having strong different opinions, and having them dashed, and then turning around and dashing someone else's opinions. This is a big part of hanging out with them. Another big part of it, is that they LOVE my kids. They put in special movies for them on the big screen TV, they look forward to changing diapers, and they wrestle around on the floor with them. It gives Pete and I a much needed break from chasing our own kids around. Sometimes I wonder if the family thinks we always are so lax about the kids behaviour, but I rest assured knowing that if I was lax, my kids wouldn't be so lovable.

One highlight from Thanksgiving, and then I'll move on. Pete and I sat at the kids table with our kids, and Pete's cousins who are 16 and 19 years old. We didn't talk about what we were thankful for before the food came out, because it's hard to be thankful for anything when you're hungry. So once we were all quietly chowing down on turkey and stuffing, I began by asking the 19 year old what she was thankful for. After her, I asked her younger sister, who gave a straight answer and then went on and on with petty thanks (ex. my new phone, brown hair, that so-and-so is not here [this may not have been her actual petty thanks, but this type of thing). I moved on to Pete, who gave the appropriate "Daddy thanks" of being thankful for family, and having them so close even though we're so far away from where he was born and grew up. Next was Lucian's turn, and the 16 year old was still being silly, now accompanied by her big sister. Lucian didn't answer me at first, so I repeated the question, and he looked at me and said, "I want Chelsea to listen so I can tell her that I'm thankful for Chelsea!" I was touched. Chelsea was touched. Chelsea's big sister Samantha, was jealous. I had been expecting all week that he was going to say that he was thankful for Santa Claus because he would bring DACS Digital Arts and Crafts Studio this year. So that's my holiday update.

Playgroup update time. Remember when I said I needed a new playgroup because Lucian was too big for the little kids at the old one? Well, I didn't exactly start taking him to a new playgroup. I hadn't found one in time for this past Wednesday, so I took him back. This time, the other moms went too far. They didn't stop at just yelling at my kid. They put their hands on him. They waggled their fingers in his face. They pushed me. And as you're reading this I imagine you're saying to yourself, "Ohhhh, so she hasn't been writing because they don't have wireless internet in jail. Got it." But no, sadly, I didn't go to jail. I should have. Because that would have meant I did something other than shout in these women's faces. It would have meant that I taught my kids that NO ONE is allowed to touch them outside of our family. Instead, I taught my children (according to Pete) that there is a time and place for knocking a bitch out, and that playgroup, in front of other children, is not it. Which means that I'm hoping to teach them that Sweetbay, or Target is the time and place. Because if I ever see any of those bitches out in public away from playgroup, I'm totally going after them with all my South Jersey charm. I did, however, get banned from playgroup for two weeks. Apparently, the overseer of the group could tell, I was one teensy, tiny push away from killing some hoes.

My father in law says that the reason other moms don't like my kids is because I dress funny. I wear rainbow thigh-high socks with shorts, I wear two different color Chuck Taylor high tops, and I wear t-shirts with teenage girl pictures on them (neon skull and crossbones, rock'n'roll instruments, etc). I never leave the house with out a hat, usually a Jeff Cap, or a Pork Pie hat. And most grievously, I never wear make-up, or spend a minute on my hair. My nails are never filed, or painted, not even with clear top coat. In FIL's opinion, the fact that I'm a "free spirit" makes them hate me, and since they hate me, they hate my children.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. First, I don't know if he's right. I wonder if I'm really a bad parent who has failed to teach my children how to behave properly. The thing is, as soon as I start thinking this way, I take my oldest to play miniature golf, and he remembers to say thank-you to the the lady that handed him the club - without being prompted. And when I took him to the local (private) park, his brother threw a tantrum because he wanted to ride in the power wheels jeep, Lucian came to me, and told me, "Val's crying. Maybe I should ask him if he wants to play with me." And then he promptly went over to his little brother, got in his face, invited him to play, then took his hand and coaxed him over to the jungle gym to climb and slide together. So, I believe I have come to the conclusion that I have good kids. I have been raising them well, and they are well behaved and thoughtful. Val has even been known to come over and hug his big brother while Lucian melts down. Pretty impressive for a boy who turns 16 months tomorrow.

Second, I wonder about what I should/can do about this. I have always been an outcast. I was never popular in high school... let's face it. I wasn't popular in grade school either. I always chalked this up to moving around a lot and having been raised in a cult. (Jehovah's Witness's) It's hard to make friends when the people you're told to respect consider the kids you go to school with heathens and mongrels. When you're taught that being a good Christian means that everybody in the world should hate you and ridicule you, it's hard to want to change how you present yourself to your schoolmates. I was fairly popular in K-2, but then we moved in the middle of the school year, and it never seemed quite as easy to make friends. Even after I decided that religion of any sort was not for me, that I would live by the Golden Rule without having God and Satan to fall back on, it was still difficult for me to find people who "got" me. Of course, it was never hard to find guys who wanted to sleep with me, and usually once I got them in bed, they realized that even though I was quirky, I was also smart, funny, and interesting. Then they introduce me to their friends, who also had to warm up to me, but eventually, I would have a circle of friends. The circle would remain loyal to my boyfriend when we broke up, but sometimes I was able to really connect with one or two of the circle and find friends of my own.

The point is, I never changed who I was in order to make friends, or be liked by my peers. I still dressed wacky at work, and when I went out on the town with my built in friends. Mostly, they learned to like my style. Some of them see it as being rebelious against society's conformist regime, some see it as my way of warning others that I am not a follower, and should not be recruited to go along with something mindlessly. For me, I see it as fun. I like to have fun with my clothes, my socks, my kids... there's a lot more to it than different color shoes. I think that more women would understand if they realized that their decision to wear make-up, or cute(matching) shoes fell into the same category. Sure there are some people who wear make-up and designer labels because they want to fit in, but mostly I think they do it because it's fun for them. And for me bright colors, rainbows, and clashing patterns are fun.

So what do I do? I want my kids to be able to have fun with the other kids at the park. I also want to feel happy when I pick out my outfit for the day. Should I change the way I look to appease the other moms at the playgroup? Do I stay the course and wait until my kids go to school where they can make friends without their mommy's around to tell them who they can and cannot play with on the playground? What if by not changing my look I ruin my children's chance at a normal childhood? Would it be worth it if they grow up learning that they can do or be anything they want and that true friends won't judge you based on what color shoes you have on? Or, is it better that they learn this lesson on their own, when they get older and want to dress funny themselves. I'm not big on conformity. I like to get stared at when I walk through the mall. I like that people look at me and wonder if I'm sane. But I also went through life on the outside of the cliques. I never had more than two friends at the same time. I was miserable about it, whenever I thought about it. I wanted to be popular, but I wanted to be popular on my own terms. My little brother is going through this right now. He's 15 years old, and he wants desperately to be popular. He also really likes the "goth" clothes, and even some "goth" music. So, the kids at school tell the teachers that he has a bomb strapped to his chest and that he's hiding a gun in his locker. They tease him mercilessly, and they knock him around a good bit, too. He's not prepared to dress differently, or to listen to Fallout Boy, but he does want to find a circle of people who have similar interests... and it's hard for anyone to look past his goofy black exterior.

So which is more important to me? That my kids be popular, which I really have no control over, or that my kids know that I'm not a conformist, and in the end, I'm happy with who I am, and who my friends are. If they are observant, though, they'll also see that I wish I had an easier time making friends, and that I want friends- but don't have them- here in my new neighborhood.