It seems to me that in a world in which parents and kids have immediate access to each other through cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail and the occasional actual face-to-face encounter, parents should be able to exert a lot more control over what their kids see and hear than they actually do. In fact, I’d be willing to venture that my parents had much greater control over the content in my life till I left for college than most parents have over their elementary school kids now.
Whenever I see ads on TV for parental controls on programming, I wonder if we aren’t just lulling ourselves into some false sense of security that we can protect our children from that which we feel is inappropriate. Because these same kids can get on any number of wired devices and a whole sleazy, ugly world is available to them. No matter what restrictions you might put on this access, eventually someone out there who wants to get to your kids will figure out a way to climb over your restrictions. Or, your kid will take is as a personal challenge to overcome them himself.
In an era when most parents seem to have little real time to spend with their children, our information age demands that they give almost constant attention to their children’s access to the wired world if they really want to be the gatekeepers of the content they see.
As quickly as government passes legislation to give some control back to parents, advances in the world of instant communication make those laws obsolete. The kind of censorship so many of us grew up with - whether it was the Catholic Church rating books and movies or the government banning certain words and situations on TV - is gone forever, replaced with all information all the time, no filters, taste or common sense required.
Lucy and Ricky couldn’t even be in the same bed together, despite being married in both real and TV life. When she was clearly, obviously and enormously pregnant, they could not use that word to describe her condition. Now, sitcoms can portray a character who gets impregnated through artificial insemination with embryos from her brother and his wife, who also happens to be the brother’s much older Home Economics teacher. Seriously, wouldn’t the relationship between the brother and his teacher be illegal in most states? Clearly, it’s not the fifties anymore.
So we seem to have reached a point where parents and society can only provide so much protection to children. Beyond that, we can only hope to influence our children by modeling the behavior and morals we feel they should have. Unfortunately, the world seems to be working actively against even those attempts.
At a time when Congress was investigating 8 billion dollars that had been shrink- wrapped and sent to Iraq and was now missing, local and national media conducted a feeding frenzy of non-stop coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. What does that tell our kids about our values as a society? And that story bumped off the previous front page feeding frenzy over an obviously unwell woman who happened to be an astronaut.
Nowadays, no one, absolutely no one, is ever responsible for his or her actions anymore. The minute they are uncovered for the sleazebags they may be, they check into a rehab program. Even the actor who made homophobic remarks about a fellow cast member entered a treatment program, though one can only wonder exactly what a thirty-day treatment for homophobia might be. Perhaps it is associated with the three-week treatment Ted Haggard went through that converted him to a complete heterosexual.
When even the Jesuits attempt to shrug off responsibility for the actions of one of their priests in fathering children - apparently there is a hierarchy in their vows in which poverty trumps chastity - I truly despair that there is anyone left in this great big country of ours that we can point at and say to our children, “Now there’s an honorable person who leads an honorable and decent life,” who would also rate media coverage.
And that makes a parent’s attempts to teach their children right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral, so much harder than it should ever be.
I can only thank god mine are over and done with. But for those of you who still feel like you are periodically dumped into the center of the sun, check out Menohaven.com. A friend told me about the site so I went over to see what they’ve invented since I went through menopause to help the process along. Needless to say, since men don’t suffer from menopause or have hot flashes, science hasn’t come up with a way to let us glide through this period with a smile and a laugh. But other women have sure done a lot of research into products that at least keep you feeling human when the rush starts. Funny thing is that when I first heard about “the rush” I thought, being a child of the sixties, that it might actually be fun. I was wrong. The only time the rush of a hot flash is fun is when you are standing on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in January and you don’t need a coat while all around you are bundled up. Actually, I can remember more than one day where I actually did that when I lived in Barrow. The sad truth was that even forty below weather was not a worthy opponent for a feisty hot flash. Anyway, check out Menohaven.com for some fun stuff and a lighthearted take on something that normally causes us to want to rip the head off the person nearest us and shove it up their....ok, this is possibly a family blog so I won’t go any further. You who are affected know exactly where you want to shove it..
Like an aging Manson groupie who spent too much time in jail.
that you could take an eraser and just erase Brittany Spears from the world?
It was really weird. After my dog Mr. T died, Abdul, my African Gray parrot, didn’t call him even once. And he used to call him every morning when we got up. He’d scream, “TEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! C’mon. Go out. C’mon, T.” And suddenly, about two days ago, as I was sitting down here in the office, all of a sudden I hear him calling, “TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”. Just calling his name over and over. Needless to say, I got hysterical.
Could there be anything more pathetic and grotesque than the Anna Nicole Smith story as it plays out in all its sordid glory, aided and abetted by a national press that has clearly lost its values, focus and mind. And am I the only one who feels so sorry for that little girl? She doesn’t stand a chance at anything resembling a normal life...not now, not ever. What a terrible thing to do to a child. And she’ll never really know if the person who ultimately takes control of her destiny loves her or her money. No two month old should have to bear that burden.
So the minister who was hiring male masseuses and buying crystal meth now claims he’s been cured of all homosexuality after three intensive weeks with some other ministers who prayed for him. And this got me thinking. I’m a sixty year old woman and there are simply very few fish in my dating pool because most men are either married, gay or dating someone who could be my daughter. So if they can convert this guy from homo to hetero, can they do the reverse for me? I mean, think of the big dating pool that would open up for me. I wonder how much they charge?
I recently watched my African Gray parrot Abdul dealing with something that scared him. I’d put him on my counter while I was cleaning up from dinner and getting some fruit and vegetables ready for bird breakfasts in the morning. I cut up a pineapple and, thinking it might amuse him to tear up the top of the pineapple rather than the drawers in my kitchen island, I put this down next to him.
I don’t usually bring pineapples into the house so this top appeared fairly threatening to him since he’d not seen it before. Despite this fear, he clearly wanted to explore it. He was torn between the desire to get closer and all the instincts of a prey animal that say stay away, it may be something that wants to eat you.
He circled the pineapple top warily for a few moments, glancing from me to it as though hoping for some reassurance. Then he started whistling. Not any particular tune, just whistling the kind of nonchalant whistling you might do if you were a little nervous about something but didn’t want to let anyone know you were scared. He’d saunter jauntily towards the pineapple top while whistling and get almost up to it, then take a detour to the left or right. He’d run a few steps away, then turn back, start the tuneless whistle again and ever so casually saunter towards it.
Eventually he made it all the way to the pineapple leaves, bit a few of them and walked away obviously disappointed in how dull the subject ultimately turned out to be. My kitchen drawers were clearly much more fascinating.
I turned sixty recently and I feel great empathy with Adbul’s approach to that pineapple top. It mirrors my approach to this new decade - whistling tunelessly while casually sauntering towards god knows what at the other end. I’m staring at the world past sixty and for the first time in my life, I’m not at all sure about what’s to come.
I didn’t mind turning forty or fifty. Those birthdays breezed by me without causing me to stop for even an instant. But sixty, well sixty is something different. Sixty is when you can no longer even pretend to middle age, let alone youth. Sixty is when you are smacked in the face with the reality that you are probably not going to live to be 120 so you definitely have more time behind you than ahead of you. Sixty is when you are so thrilled when someone under thirty tells you that you rock that it becomes the highlight of your week.
Sixty is when you are caught in the headlights of your own mortality as you realize that the generation that famously said never to trust anyone over thirty is now twice as old as that.
In actual fact, life has pretty much continued uninterrupted since I turned sixty. No one has run down the street pointing at me and yelling, “Look at that old lady. I can’t believe she’s so old and still able to walk.” So at least that fear has been alleviated. And I still can’t collect social security so the government apparently doesn’t think I’m that old yet. But that niggling in the back of my mind that says something is different won’t go away.
I’ve reached the age where I have to accept that I will never be the young pretty thing in the room and no one will ever marvel at what I’ve achieved at such a young age. They are more apt to be wondering why it took me so long to achieve what little I’ve accomplished. And although I look forward to the future with some degree of enthusiasm, it is now mixed with a large amount of trepidation. I keep waiting to wake up one morning and find my leg fell off in the middle of the night.
I am well aware that I am not my grandmother’s sixty. I’m not even my mother’s sixty. I’m the new sixty. I work out at Curves three times a week. I walk my dogs three miles a day. My time is filled with work and volunteer activities and six birds and two dogs who want my constant attention. I feel alive and vibrant most of the time. The rest of the time, the aches and pains of sixty are in full force and I make those awful sounds getting out of cars or going up stairs.
At fifty I knew I was still young. At seventy I imagine I’ll more easily accept that I’m old. But sixty feels so unsettled and in between the two that I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. So I guess I’ll just get up tomorrow and continue doing what I was doing when I was fifty-nine and let the chips - or legs - fall where they may.
Just enough snow has fallen on the underlying ice to make my walks with the dogs a slip sliding disaster waiting to happen. Thank god that between them they are big enough to anchor me when I start to fall and yank inadvertently on their leashes. With poor Mr. T, he was so small that when I yanked, we both went down.
Let’s see, 8 billion dollars of shrink wrapped American money that was sent to Iraq on pallets in the back of some huge airplanes is missing and Bremer is apparently blaming it on the Iraqi’s not having a good accounting system. But the front page news, the news that is mesmerizing America, is about some Marilyn Monroe wannabee who probably overdosed and died while three men squabble over who screwed her last and fathered her child.
We deserve George Bush as president if this is the way we prioritize things. He can’t be blamed for sending this country to hell in a handbasket when we seem to be doing it so well all by ourselves.
I still cringe when my AARP magazine arrives. I think they should put it in a plain brown envelope. One day I found I had left it in the bathroom where I’d last been reading it during a few moments of leisure and suddenly flashed back to my mom’s bathroom when she used to keep her’s there. I’m always surprised when trauma like that doesn’t kill me.
I finally got that disposable camera film developed and here are pictures of the newest additions to my family. I did my best to wipe out the glowing yellow eyes that came with the pictures so if their eyes look a little odd, it’s my fault. They really aren’t devil dogs...though on a good day, Blue can act as though she’s trying out for the part.
The photos pictured show:
1. Blondie doing what Blondie does best...lying on her back waiting for someone, anyone, to walk by and scratch her stomach.
2. Blondie, having given up on a belly rub, relaxing on the downstairs bed.
3. Blue patiently waiting for any crumb of food that might fall from my desk area.
4. Blue and Blondie expecting that at any moment I will stop being lazy and get up and give them a walk.
I foolishly thought if I left my grill out for the winter I’d be able to get to it to do some cooking. I don’t think so anymore.