Category Archives: end of western civilisation as we know it

Teach ‘Em, Then Trust ‘Em

Why are we making our children overly-sensitive and incompetent?

Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:


My rebuttal:

obama with water gun

Exhibit 2:


My rebuttal:

Guys. Life is a series of gambles, you buys your ticket and you takes your chances. Most of the time, things turn out okay. My own mother was the most protective one in the neighborhood. But she allowed me to hop on my bike and ride through the neighborhood to Gessner, a very busy road, to catch tadpoles in the bayou. (It was still a real bayou under that bridge, then. Not a concrete drainage ditch.) When I got my Friday allowance I biked to the 7-11, where nefarious teenagers dealt doobies in the parking lot. Inside, 25-cent comic books waited for me. (Fine. She was not aware of what the teens were doing, but I didn’t bother them, and they didn’t bother me.)

While my own kids were growing up, we were fortunate to live mere blocks from a small shopping area. And a well-traveled hiking/biking trail. When they hit the age of ten, away they went. With a friend or sibling, but parentless.I knew where they were. They knew when they were expected back. If they weren’t, they knew embarrassment would ensue.

Were there close calls? I know there were for me, and I bet there were for my kids, too. But sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath, calculate the risks, and trust the universe.

Or end up parenting those kids for the rest of your life.



osama bin laden, no more

So they got him.

I saw the people dancing in the streets, singing patriotic songs. Joyful. And I tried to put a word to my emotions.

Is “finally” an emotion?

I can’t stir myself into being elated at anyone’s death.

Although I can’t say I’m sorry about it, either.

book banning backfire

When Freckles McYoungest was in eighth grade, her Catholic elementary school got a new principal. It was a shame, because the old principal had been there since before Freckles had been born. Mrs. Original Principal had ushered BoyWonder and Bottled Lightning from preschool through their Wonder Years, and we’d hoped she’d shake Freckles’ hand when she received her eighth grade diploma.


Because we soon found out that the new principal came from the only diocese IN THE NATION that refused to comply with the National Bishops’ guidelines on sex abuse. You know, about being transparent, educating kids and caretakers about safety, advocating for kids and not protecting the perpetrator, stuff like that.


That is a sign of CONSERVATISM in the extreme.

And so the weekly newsletters came home with inspirational stories about martyrs torn to pieces by wild beasts and how Caesar wore their intestines as a belt, and the virginal peasant girl who refused to let the duke kiss her hand so he flayed her alive for Jesus, or whatever. WITH XEROXED HOLY CARDS.

Yes, yes, but when are the high school entrance exams?

Then the day came when she went too far.

Our small but well-kept library, due to the efforts of our excellent, no-guff school librarian, had one copy of…

The Golden Compass.

Holy God.

It would have escaped the attention of Principal Throwback if The Parent hadn’t complained.


Well, hysteria on Principal Throwback’s part.

She sent home a three-page *special edition* newsletter on why she was removing the book from the library. But why stop there? She banned kids from bringing the book to school. She also urged us not to allow our children to read the book, or any book of Phillip Pullman’s, because he was an ATHEIST. And she attached reviews from Commonsense Media, and other documentation to prove his atheism.


As I read through the papers, hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

I asked Freckles’ if she’d heard about it–she hadn’t. I gave her the papers. I know. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to do that. Phone calls were made. By Freckles. And other children whose mothers do things they’re not supposed to.

Enter a girl I will call Fleur. A genius kind of girl, a leader, with spiffy parents. She had read Golden Compass, and was not at all pleased with being told what she could and could not read. And that atheists were dangerous. Also, that the eighth graders were too weak-willed to use their own brains.

Oh yes, you would love to know this girl.

She organized.

The libraries and book stores–new and used, were cleaned out.

Because every eighth grader carried around a copy of The Golden Compass at that school. All day. For weeks. And none of the teachers stopped them.

How many read it? Probably not many.

But they could if they wanted to.

book banning begins at home

Today’s banned books story involves my mother.

Was she a crusader for free speech and the right for all men and women to express their vision?


A movie came out when I was 11, called Marooned. It’s about astronauts who have a malfunction aboard their space capsule, and the race to get them home. (Apollo 13, anyone? But that was a few years later.) I bought the book, but Mom wouldn’t let me read it until she read it first.

She blacked out several pages.

I have no idea what she covered up.

I also have no idea what else was in the book, because she killed any desire I had to read it.

A few years later, I bought the book, Deliverance. Well, she snatched that puppy out of my hands before I could get through the living room. I was 14.

She read it.

When she tossed it back to me, about half the book was blackened. Whole pages were ripped out.


Haven’t ever read that one either.

Maybe I didn’t miss much, and maybe I wouldn’t care for my own 11 and 14-year old kids to read those books. I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never had the stomach to go back and see for myself.

When my kids have wanted to read books I wasn’t thrilled with, I read them first, too.

But then I handed them back, and said, “Tell me when you get to page 89. I want to talk to you about that.”

And we talked.

I don’t really blame Mom for what she did. She had a World War II moral sensibility, trying to raise a teenager in the 1970s. Must have been pretty scary. But censorship closes you off. Skews your insight.

It keeps your world small.

let them go

Okay, all you parents who are easily offended, line up.  You are about to get schooled.

There seems to be two types of parents these days.  We’ve got the morons who pay absolutely no attention to their kids, figure their responsibility to their spawn ended the day they plopped them out.

I’m not talking to you.  Your kind has always been around, and should be euthanized immediately.

No, the kind I want to talk to have some hope of being salvaged, because most (certainly not all) have their children’s best interest at heart.  So open your ears, suckers–message coming in:


Holy Mother of Perpetual Motion, how do you think your kids are going to mature into independent adults if you don’t let them experience life on their own?  If you structure their days, make their decisions, keep them safe every moment and never let them take a risk, how do you expect them to grow up?

This year, I have:

Met a 16yr old boy who didn’t know how to pump gas.

Encountered innumerable 16yr old boys whose curfews were 11pm or even 10pm.  On a weekend?

Been inspected by scores of parents, who don’t trust their children’s judgment on whether our family maintains a safe environment.


Honest to Stinky Pete, when do you think your kid will learn to rely on himself?  College?  Because let me tell ya Stella, by then, it’s too late.

If you want your kid to make good choices when he/she goes to college, be a good judge of character, have street smarts, know how to think on his/her feet, be able to take care of him/herself–then your kid has to start doing it a lot sooner than the week before they leave for Wotsommata U.

We live in an area where the kids can walk to an ice cream store, dime store, toy store–and that’s just what we let our kids start doing with a friend at the age of 10.

When they were 12, they could go to a different movie in the cineplex than the parents went to.

14, we dropped them off and picked them up from the cineplex.

15, they could stay out at supervised friend’s homes until 11:30.  I trusted THEM to tell me if the parent was present, and if there was any nefarious activity going on.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t talking to them, watching them, inspecting the house from the car when I picked them up.  PARENTS, JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T HEAR FROM ME, DOESN’T MEAN I’M NOT PAYING ATTENTION. I know what a drunk kid looks like, or a high one.  Come on.  I grew up in the ’70s.

16, they were driving.  Boy, did their world open up.  Bottled Lightning drove a carload of friends to Fort Scott for a ghost tour at Halloween.  And she drove them to Omaha for a day trip to the zoo.  Yes, I let her do this.  The friends’ parents let them go.  And today, they are all brilliant, self-sufficient college students, world travelers. Freckles McYoungest has laid out her proposals for road trips to me.  When they have come to fruition, I will let you know.

Heck, the first summer after his freshman year of college, Boywonder cranked up his 30yr old Honda Civic and tooted off to Gettysburg for the big Battle re-enactment.  His Missouri unit backed out at the last minute so he drove, literally 1,000 miles, without knowing a soul.  He met up with some North Carolinians and had a great time.  BECAUSE MY KIDS KNOW HOW TO MAKE THEIR WAY ON THEIR OWN.

So Helicopter Parents? Please. I’m beggin’ you.

Power down.

sing for your supper


We have returned from the Valley of Pigflu.

Hope you are well too. Though what I’m writing about today makes me a little heart-sick.

Seems nursery rhymes are dying out. The London Telegraph reports that modern parents find them old-fashioned and uneducational.  Harumph.

I sensed the first stirrings of this 20 years ago, when Boywonder was young enough for playdates.  When the living/rumpus room was a wreck and blocks had gone from stackable objects to missiles, I would settle the boys down on the couch for a book or two.  Out would come good ol’ Mother Goose.  Boywonder could recite the rhymes with me–and Visitor?  Never heard ’em before.

Child abuse!

Nursery rhymes were a huge part of my childhood.  Song lyrics.  Games.  Books.  What an easy transition from memorized poems to reading those poems on the page.

Rhythm and rhyme.  Babies learn motor coordination in poems like Pat a Cake and This Little Piggy.  Surely nursery rhymes pattern young brains to appreciate Ode on a Grecian Urn and Leaves of Grass later in life. Listen to the rhythm:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

I don’t know about you, but that nursery rhyme makes me feel like setting a 2-year-old on my knee and bouncing her around while she giggles.  And don’t forget to pinch her little fingers and toes at the appropriate parts.

I could always pull several dozen nursery rhymes out of my skull at the drop of a hat.  When Bottled Lightning was four, she and I had a nursery rhyme-off at the car repair shop.  Now that I think about it, that’s damn weird.  But, hey.  That’s how we roll.

My nursery rhyme roots go back to my grandmother, who was born in 1885.  She grew up educated, but very poor.  Eventually, she became a leading member of the DAR and a well-known genealogist.  At that time, it was a woman’s only way out of obscurity.  Her grandmother recited the rhymes to her, and I will recite them to my grandchildren.  Imagine.  The very same poems, entertaining seven generations.

I can’t end this post without adding my favorite nursery rhyme of all time.  I don’t know why, but this is it:

Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea,

With silver buckles on his knee:

He’ll come back and marry me,

Pretty Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe’s fat and fair,

Combing down his yellow hair;

He’s my love for evermore,

Pretty Bobby Shaftoe.

Tell me your favorite nursery rhymes.  Come on, guys.  Don’t let me down!

i hate to make you read this: critique guilt

I feel guilty.

Critique group yesterday.  Chapter 10 gallops along—pathos, intensity, drama.

Fearless leader reads with vigor and gusto.  Including the “fudge” word.

Only it wasn’t “fudge”.

And Lord, the name-calling, including, “baby-lick”.

Only it wasn’t “lick”.

And by golly, Fearless Leader read it like she meant it!

At first I laughed, but then, I was mortified at what I had done to this tableful of  refined ladies.

Week by week I have spooled out my story, made them care about my rogue’s gallery.  They’re willing to go along for the ride. (Because they’re  really good sports.)

Over nine chapters they’ve learned my main character’s story:  hardship, trauma, sacrifice.  So when the big moment came, and the “f” bomb exploded…


They were ready for it!  Judging by the reaction, you might say they relished it.

Because the words MEANT SOMETHING.  They were meant for anger, for the ultimate put-down, like they used to be.  They weren’t scattered through the text to be cool.  They didn’t pop out three and four times a paragraph instead of “um” and “uh”.  The two offending words were each used once, strategically, and for great effect.

Okay, then.  No guilt.

But then I think about Fearless Leader, her impeccable pageboy, her sweet smile, her lady-like voice, barking out those words…

I still gotta cringe.

Creepy or Inspiring?

Alrighty then.  I’ve watched these things for about an hour now.  Can’t decide if they’re amazing homages or horrible desecrations.

Let me know what you think.  Because I really can’t sort it out.

i’ve been sick…

…but here’s a little something to tide you over.


r-e-s-p-e-c-t-i-n-g food

Indigenous people know where their food comes from.

There are myths and legends about the animals they eat, because the hunters understand the hunted. People who live close to their food source thank their prey for laying down its life.  They use every bit of the animal, respecting the sacrifice and honoring it by wasting nothing.  


Such people also have an intimate undestanding of the plants they eat.  For instance, Native Americans consider corn, beans and squash to be the Three Sisters.  They plant them together.  The corn makes a stalk that the beans can climb up, the beans capture nitrogen that enriches the soil for the corn, and the squash produces copious vines that keep the others’ roots cool and help conserve water: 

In late spring, we plant the corn and beans and squash. They’re not just plants- we call them the three sisters. We plant them together, three kinds of seeds in one hole. They want to be together with each other, just as we Indians want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us we know we will never starve. The Creator sends them to us each year. We celebrate them now. We thank Him for the gift He gives us today and every day.

– Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)

 Now, consider how Americans obtain their food.




The farmer raises the cow, then ships it to a feed lot, who auctions it to a purveyor, who sells it to the slaughter house, who chops it in big pieces and ships it to the grocery store, who packages it in little saran-wrapped packages with styrofoam trays.

Then you buy it.  Do you know which cow your beef came from?  Did you live in relation with it?  Do you even know what part of the country…or world your meal came from? 

Do you know what a whole cow looks like, put together without the plastic?


When food becomes disconnected from its source, it loses its value.  People who don’t respect food overeat, eat things that are bad for them, and waste food.  And our bodies show it.


%d bloggers like this: