Presumed Guilty

An incident happened at the pumpkin patch the other day and I can’t get it off my mind. In fact, it has made me a little glum thinking about it. Here’s what happened:

Hapa Papa, his mother, and I took the kids to a local farm/pumpkin patch. They had a pit filled with dried corn kernels and Cookie Monster and Gamera were just getting in to play. A few minutes in, a woman comes and asks me if Cookie Monster is my son. I said, “Yes.” She said that Cookie Monster had lifted his shirt full of corn kernels and poured it down her daughter’s mouth, choking her.

My immediate reaction was to apologize and then called for Cookie Monster to come over. Thank goodness my MIL was there and she said, “I don’t think he did anything.” When Hapa Papa heard as well, (he was in the midst of getting Cookie Monster to come over, presumably to be punished) and also said, it couldn’t have been our boy. When I stopped to think about it, I, too, didn’t think it was Cookie Monster. After all, he had just gotten in the pit and I was pretty sure I didn’t see him go anywhere far or be gone long enough to cause mischief. Plus, it didn’t sound like something he’d do.

Well, that mother was indignant and huffed, “I have it on film. I have a picture of it on my phone!” So, I asked politely if I could see the picture. She said, “I have it on the phone. I saw him do it!” I responded, “I’m sure you did. But I would just like to see it.”

She shows me a picture of a kid in a blue shirt almost the same color as Cookie Monster’s but I don’t see him anywhere. I said, “I’m sorry, where is my son? I don’t see him.” She points to the shirt and says, “See! That’s his pony tail right there!”

Cookie Monster does not have a pony tail (or whatever little mullet pig tail thing the kid had). “Oh, that’s not my son.” The woman says, “Yes it is!” and points to the same boy playing in the pit. “That’s not my son.”

“Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” And with that, she slunk away.

Now, I’m not upset at the woman for thinking it was my kid. Shirts are the same color and there were a lot of kids. I’m just glad she had a picture so I could “see” it for myself. I don’t think it was racially motivated (you know, all Asians look alike) because the “guilty” kid was a white kid and Cookie Monster definitely does not look white.

No, I’m upset with myself for so quickly assuming that Cookie Monster did something bad. I’m upset that I didn’t stop to think whether or not the incident was plausible or in character for my son even though I was pretty sure I had been watching him and didn’t see him do anything wrong. I am upset with myself for assuming Cookie Monster was the bad guy even though he wasn’t. I am SO GRATEFUL my MIL was there to call BS.

I get it. I know why I immediately apologized. Who wants to be the parent who thinks their little monster can do no wrong? But the opposite is no better. I don’t want to be the parent who always makes my kid out to be at fault even when he isn’t. I want to think better of my own son and to defend him when appropriate. I don’t want my default to be, “What did my kid do?” Because Cookie Monster is a good kid. He can be a pain in the ass and disobedient, but in general, he’s a very good boy.

Thank goodness I didn’t get a chance to yell at him and ruin his good time before asking for proof. I’m also grateful that I wasn’t a complete jerk to the woman and asked her politely to see the pictures. I’m even MORE grateful Cookie Monster proved to be innocent.

My boy is a good boy and I should do well to remember it. My heart hurts that I was so quick to forget.

No Sick Days for Mommy

It’s not that I used to LIKE being sick. But staying at home, sleeping in, reading, and watching copious amounts of TV weren’t exactly BAD, either. Now that I’m a parent, and a SAHM, at that, it’s the WORST.

Because not only am I sick, I still have to take care of my children (who are also sick). My entire body aches, I can’t breathe, and all I want to do is climb in a hole and die. Ok. Maybe not DIE, but disappear and sleep for a LONG while. It’s a good thing I have a high tolerance for my children watching TV. We’ve been working on weaning the kids from TV and iDevices, but that’s all been tossed out the window. Especially since Hapa Papa is on vacation a business trip again. He even had the nerve to tell me he hopes that the kids and I are all better by the time he gets back on Friday. It’s not altruistic on his part. He just doesn’t want to deal with sick people. 😉

So, in light of the fact that I need to go sleep now and not emerge until Glow Worm’s 3am feeding, I am throwing the burden of a post back onto you, my lovely readers. What do you do when you’re sick and have to take care of the kids. Any survival tips?

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My Irrational Fears

Last Sunday, all three kids and I got stuck in an elevator on the empty campus of our local community college. Even though we were stuck for at most a few minutes, I had to seriously refrain from freaking out in front of the kids. If I had snacks or water with me, I would’ve been a little more OK. But I didn’t. All I could think of was my kids and I being stuck in the elevator for hours and them starving and crying and me having to breastfeed all THREE of them. As it was, the elevator got unstuck and we exited. No harm, no foul.

However, my brief stint in the elevator caused one of my big irrational fears to resurface. I’ve already told you about my fear of being murdered and Cookie Monster or the other kids turning into Dexter. This one crops up every time I am sleep training my kids. The elevator incident reminds me of the Korean American family that got stuck in the snow on a mountain pass coming back to the Bay Area from Oregon. The husband left the car after a few days to go find help. He got lost and died of exposure. The wife survived and fed her two daughters (aged 7 months and 4 years) by breastfeeding them until they were found. Even that was barely enough.

Ever since that story, I have stashed tons of water and snacks in my minivan – along with a first aid kit, multiple blankets, toys, diapers, and a travel potty. I am terrified of being stuck in the snow or a desert or ANYWHERE without access to food or water. In light of that, I am glad that I have been pretty much lactating almost the entire time for the last four years. If we run out of food or water, at least I can breastfeed my children. Thank goodness the body knows to make milk at the expense of everything else. I don’t care if I end up a desiccated husk as long as my kids are more alive than I am.

Keep in mind that we are NEVER anywhere near mountains, snow, or the desert. Maybe, on the yearly trip to LA we go through the grapevine and are in the fake mountain pass, but seriously, SO many people drive by there on an hourly basis that it would be impossible to be stuck long enough for me to have to resort to breastfeeding my entire family. But as Hapa Papa likes to say about me, I never let the facts get in the way of a good story. And in this case, the story is the unlikely scenario of death by exposure and starvation whilst getting our asses kicked by Mother Nature.

I’m also sure that Hapa Papa and I would argue about whether or not he should stay with the family or leave to find help. And I am sadly positive that he would likely die should he attempt to leave. (I know, I know. I am completely insane and morbid and just really messed up in the head.) This is why all my children will be forced into either the Boy or Girl Scouts. SOMEONE in my family is going to know how to start a fire, tie some knots, know which berries to eat and which to avoid, and have some USEFUL SKILLS so that we can survive a natural disaster or the impending zombie apocalypse (and it sure isn’t going to be me).

Of course, we should be prepared anyway. I have my two week survival kit of dried/dehydrated foods, first aid, and water purifying tablets. I need to remember to have extra water in the house, too. But I figure it will likely be in my minivan so it should be ok. Unless of course, the zombie apocalypse happens when Hapa Papa takes my car out for an errand. Shoot. I better buy some water for the house.

Whenever I get in this fearful frame of mind, I start scouring the internet and Amazon for things to buy JUST IN CASE. I deeply consider buying straws that can purify water and filter out 99% of contaminants and seed vaults. I curse my town for making it very difficult for me to raise chickens. (We’re allowed to. However the coop has to be twenty feet from every dwelling wall and/or fence. Since our lots are so small, it is physically impossible to have one – unless, of course, we put the coop in the fifth dimension.) Since we can’t raise chickens, I’m pretty sure we can’t raise goats. I am concerned we don’t have any pets because then what would we do for meat? I briefly consider buying shot guns (only to freak out even more about gunshot wounds and my kids killing themselves or their friends or each other accidentally).

I realize there is a very thin line between preppers and super granola-organic people. I find myself mentally crossing that line.

I freak out that my mother lives 6.7 miles away from me and works 4.7 miles away from me. I freak out even more that Hapa Papa works 44.2 miles away. If there is some type of breakdown in social order and for some reason, no one can drive, it will take forever for Hapa Papa to walk home. OMG, he would surely die. Because of looters and a general lacking in sense of direction. Hopefully, he will be smart enough to walk the freeways. But he’s a nice man and I don’t know if he could survive. I calculate that if he doesn’t immediately head for home (thereby taking advantage of the slim window before all hell breaks loose), I may never see him again. Is that cruel to think so little of his survival skills?

I think of my friend and how her husband said that if they and their two small children were being chased by zombies, he would grab the children and leave her behind because there would be no way she could carry both kids and run away fast enough. As a result, her biggest contribution would be to slow the zombies down. As much as I deplore his lack of chivalry, he makes a certain kind of brutal sense. I despair because I have THREE children. OMG, I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ARMS!!

I have to stop this line of thinking right this instant because even as I’m writing this, mocking myself, I feel the rising panic and tears stabbing at my throat and OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Now that I’ve walked away from this post and surfed the web, browsed Facebook, grabbed a drink and some snacks, I’ve calmed down enough to return. Seriously, I had to take a ten minute break.

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I know the Mormons are supposed to keep a year’s supply of food and necessities in their house. They are some smart people.

In closing, allow me to quote the famed philosopher, Xzibit. “In God we trust but just in case keep it loaded and locked.” (Foundation)

My Genius Business Idea

You know what we need more of? Drive thrus. It doesn’t matter for what. We just need more of them. You would think that in my suburb of soccer moms and mini-vans, some clever shopping plaza owner would’ve built one long drive thru with multiple entry and exit points down the back of a building. I don’t care what that place is selling – I would go there and buy it. Drive thru pie in the face? YES, PLEASE.

Before I had children, let alone THREE of them, I appreciated a drive-thru (especially the drive-thru pharmacy), but I didn’t see the need for most of them. How hard could it be to get out of your car and WALK somewhere? How lazy a nation were we? Drive thru Starbucks? Ridiculous.

I knew absolutely nothing.

How was I to know of the perilous drive in the afternoon with a tired kid who is talking and screaming and hey-mommying non-stop until the second you pull into a parking spot to wherever you were planning to go and you turn around and WTF they are totally passed out? Then, you go through the no-win inner dialogue every parent in this situation has agonized over: Do you wake the kid up or go home?

If you wake the kid up, you run the risk of them being super cranky while you’re in the store running your errand and then they won’t nap at their normal napping time (or maybe this IS their normal napping time and you were just an idiot for hoping this wouldn’t happen). But if you go home, you don’t get your thing done – and wouldn’t you know it as soon as you pull in the garage and close it, blissfully anticipating a baby-free hour or two for your own little nap, your damn kid opens their eyes and wants you to play with them.

And that drive-thru Starbucks? I have friends who are willing to drive to a town half an hour away just so they can get a Starbucks without having to schlep their kids out of the car, wait in line, get their order, somehow carry both their drink and kid back to the car without spilling everything on the ground, shoving their kid back into that stupid car seat, and go home. A five minute endeavor turns into at least a half hour excursion (usually punctuated with pleading, swearing, and weeping – in that order).  That’s probably why McDonald’s coffee is becoming more popular – they have a drive thru.

In the town next to mine, they have a drive-thru dairy where you can pick up eggs, milk, and some groceries. Sure, you may have to pay more, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. I have yet to avail myself of this because I am infinitely lazy and just DELIVER MY GROCERIES ALREADY, COSTCO!!! Safeway will deliver groceries over $50, but I feel too much shame to attempt it. As if I don’t get enough boxes on my front porch from Amazon. Now, I’m so indolent, I can’t make it to Safeway? It’s really only the neighbors judging me that prevents me from doing this. If I lived in the boonies with no one to see or know, you bet your bottom dollar I’d be best friends with the Safeway delivery guy.

Oooh, even better. Star Trek replicator technology. Let’s get to work on that, shall we? 3D printing is close, but not quite there yet. In the meantime, a drive thru is far less difficult and certainly not rocket science. Get to it, people.

Inappropriate Bible Stories FTW

A few weeks ago, I complained about how Sunday Schools teach Bible stories that make either the Bible completely unappealing because everyone is a saint, or it sanitizes stories that are incredibly hard to digest and process. Well, today, I’d like to remind us of the stories I WISH Sunday Schools would teach – not because they are appropriate for children but because they are awesome.

Most people, when they think of Bible stories, don’t really consider comedy and potty humor to be part of them. They think of the Good Samaritan or Moses and the Red Sea. You know, morality plays or epic situations. And there are many of these types of stories to be found in the Bible. Otherwise, people usually think the Bible to be full of rules, lists of people who begat other people, and a bunch of overly religious prattle.

But that’s not true. Yes, there are boring bits, but personally, I think there are far more interesting snippets that if we learned them when we were younger, we’d be utterly hooked on the Bible because it is a crazy book!! (I’m not even including the insane acid-trip that is the book of Revelations.)

Here then, are two Bible stories that I submit for your edification. One that I find terribly intriguing and the other I find awesomely hilarious. What this says about me is uncertain except perhaps that I have somewhat deranged sensibilities.

1) Angels have sex with human women and make Nephilim babies!!

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. […] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

– Genesis 6:1-2, 4 (NASB)

WHAT??? This is like, barely making it through the first few chapters of the Bible and we get freaky angel/human sex that results in GIANTS!! I mean, I get why they gloss over this detail in Sunday School but OMG! The original urban fantasy novel!! And it’s just matter-of-factly summed up in three verses. WHY? Why wouldn’t they include more information on this? Instead, this is just served as the backdrop and setup for Noah and the Great Flood. BORING! I want more crazy angel sex!

2) Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah

Here’s the tl;dr version. After a long drought in Israel (which Elijah announced before it happened as God’s curse), Elijah wanted to prove to the Israelites that God was more powerful than the false gods they were worshiping. So Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to a very public demonstration. He has two altars built and completely drenched in water. Then he has two bulls sacrificed, one for each altar. Whoever’s god can light the sacrifice on fire is the True God.

Elijah lets the prophets go first and they beg Baal and Asherah for hours, cutting themselves, sweating, dancing, and pleading. Elijah mocks them and gleefully says, “You’ll have to shout louder than that […] to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” (1 Kings 18:27 TLB, emphasis mine)

I don’t know why this is my all-time favorite story but I suspect it has something to do with Elijah asking if the gods are out dropping a deuce and are therefore indisposed and cannot be bothered to send fire for the sacrifice. It is literal shit-talking!

Why don’t they teach this version of the story in Sunday School? Most translations use the euphemism “busy” instead of “pooping” – which is a shame because OMG, HILARITY.

I mean, really! The Bible is terrible and bewildering – full of totally fucked up people and unbelievable setups and resolutions. And yet somehow, this long, continuous and continuing epic love story of God pursuing completely undeserving people is how God chooses to communicate (in writing, no less!) to us. (And not because we’re so great – but because He’s so great. Of course, your theological mileage may vary on that interpretation.)

Can you imagine if we taught this in Sunday School? No kid would ever complain about the Bible being boring again! Off the top of my head, I can recount at least two or three more stories that reference pooping or peeing (of course, because I am twelve), a few that involve gruesome humor, and many more that are achingly beautiful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Furthermore, we’d get a far more nuanced, sarcastic, and scathingly funny God. (And yes, compassionate, passionate, loving, and gentle God, too.) Far better to reject a God we are a little more accurately depicting than to worship a god about whom we are completely deluded.

What about you? What are your favorite (for any reason) Bible stories and why?

I Don’t Like You and It’s OK

When I was in college, I was very involved with an on-campus Christian group called InterVarsity. They were really big on this thing called “intentionality” (a totally made up word, but whatever) and used that as a basis for ministry. Basically, it was to intentionally befriend certain people who were open to being influenced and then pursue the hell out of them without it seeming like you’re stalking.

So, if I chose you to focus on, I would invite you to events, eat with you, hang out with you, go do stuff you liked to do but I would personally rather eat nails than do, etc. It seems kinda creepy and yucky and fake, but if you think about it, that’s how most friendships work anyway. Sometimes, it’s serendipitous and things just gel and you naturally want to hang out all the time and do stuff together, and in college, that’s really easy to do and seem natural and spontaneous. But in the real world, outside of the lovely bubble that is endless free time, it doesn’t work that way at all. To be friends once you start working or have a family, that takes a lot of effort. At least one person in the friendship must go out of their way to initiate and “pursue” a relationship with the other person. Otherwise, the friendship stalls, doesn’t deepen, and sometimes, withers and dies.

The group was also big on “reconciliation” and any time there was conflict, negative feelings, or weird interactions, we were encouraged to reconcile with each other. That involved having long conversations resolving issues both big and small. Of course, since I was crazy and overly dramatic in college (Hapa Papa would interject at this point and question the use of “was” in this instance as he maintains that it is still an ongoing situation), this meant I was constantly reconciling with people.

Furthermore, I took it to mean (and I’m pretty sure that’s not how the leaders of IV thought to interpret it) that if I didn’t like someone, that was something I needed to work on. In other words, if I didn’t like someone, I should be even more intentional (not to mention more reconciling) with the people in question. So, I would often feel terrible over not liking a person and try to force a friendship.

It took awhile, but after college, I gradually gave myself permission to dislike people. I slowly realized that it was utterly stupid to try and force chemistry with people. If I didn’t like someone, who the fuck cares? (Keep in mind, I absolutely do NOT think that IV told me that I couldn’t dislike people. That was just my own weird application of intentionality and reconciliation.)

Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to like people – not even to like God. (And quite frankly, I often don’t. *Looks nervously upwards.*) After all, according to Jesus, we are first to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Deut. 6:5) Then, we are to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18) (Matt. 22:37-40, NIV) It says nothing about like. (Or “like like,” for that matter. Yes, I am permanently a thirteen year old girl.)

Once I gave myself permission to not like a person, I realized I, in fact, disliked a LOT of people! (Ok, not a lot, but a lot more than I had originally anticipated being that I thought myself quite the easy-going and friendly person. Again, Hapa Papa would vehemently disagree with this personal assessment. Does the man even like me at all? Or does he know me a little too uncomfortably well? Marriage is really harsh on a person’s delusions.)

More importantly, I realized it was okay to dislike people. More than okay. Perfectly normal and valid. After all, you cannot help the way you feel. You can, however, help the way you act. So I decided to change my philosophy since I obviously disliked people anyway regardless of whether or not I thought it was acceptable. I decided that I didn’t have to like someone. I just had to love them.

I started to feel much better.

Not only was I more authentic in my feelings and no longer in denial, I could also move forward and better interact with people I didn’t actually like because I saw the situation as it was versus what I fabricated in my mind. In this case, it was a little easier to love a person once I knew I didn’t like a person. Sounds totally ass-backwards, doesn’t it?

Here’s why: when I actually like a person, it is very easy to be nice to them. You know, by being civil, showing interest in their lives, their comments, their whatever. The socially acceptable ways of behavior flows naturally and beautifully. It is lovely. But when I dislike a person, it is extremely difficult for me to behave. So when I was operating under the misunderstanding that I liked someone, I was constantly frustrated when behaving well was incredibly hard and didn’t happen naturally. But once I realized I actually disliked them, I could now approach the person and intentionally be good. (A sad commentary on my character, I realize.) Also, I could avoid them like the plague.

So what did I mean by having to love someone? I hate to be cliché, but I will have to resort to the classic 1 Corinthians 13 version of love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV

I most often hear this passage at weddings and as much as I find it useful to apply in my marriage (though often unsuccessfully since I am quite impatient, always self-seeking, and definitely full of Hulk Smash anger), it also comes in handy for forcing myself to behave like a good human being to people I don’t actually like very much should my strategy of “avoid at all cost” not be applicable.

Anyhow, I realize I have digressed quite a bit. But my whole point is merely to say that I am glad I figured out it was okay to dislike people and not have to fake friendships anymore. I’m glad I no longer have to waste time torturing myself over a feeling. I’m grateful that I am not commanded to like people and only to love them. I realize that love, as defined by 1 Corinthians, is quite a tall order. But let me just say that it is considerably harder to force a feeling. Much easier to have a straight forward course of action (even if the acts themselves are difficult). At least one is more plausible than the other.

“They look like good, strong hands”

There has yet to be a dead horse that Hapa Papa won’t beat and this quote from The NeverEnding Story is merely one of them in his repertoire. He takes secret (well, not so secret anymore) delight in making me cry just from saying these six little words, “They look like good, strong hands.”

GAH.

I can’t even fully articulate WHY hearing these words from Rockbiter chokes me up. Before Hapa Papa is even halfway done saying it, I am already yelling at him to stop it already. It’s just. I can’t. Blergh.

It’s just so sad. I think of my kids and failing them utterly regardless of how hard I try and them slipping away. I think of all the horrible tragedies that could befall them and I feel so small. So powerless.

It perfectly encapsulates my terror at all the things in the world that I cannot (and perhaps, should not) protect them from. It’s the saddest scene in the whole movie.

Oh wait, it’s not the saddest scene in the movie after all. It’s tied with Artax in the Swamp of Sadness! GAH^2!!

Now leave me be. My entire face is leaking.