Big Mouth

One of the things that I remember most about being a kid is that at times my mouth felt big.  Really big.  Not in the figurative sense.  In the literal sense.  It felt physically big.  I thought it was really wide and if I didn’t look in a mirror, I imagined that it stretched across my face from ear to ear and that my little baby lips would blow up until all anyone could see when they looked at me was my gigantic mouth.

Insanely curious and maybe a little too outspoken, as some kids are, I was chided by adults for talking too much or being too loud.  I was too boisterous, too much of a tomboy, they said.  I should sit nicely like nice young ladies do.   To my young mind, that translated to a sense that grown ups didn’t like me or didn’t want me around.  As an adult, I realize it’s slightly narcissistic to be a child and think that adults with real problems like bills and Presidents on the evening news would take time from these lofty exploits to dislike a scrawny little yellow chicken with chinky eyes and puffy braids who didn’t ever seem to shut up.  But as a narcissistic five year old, well…that was my cross to bear.  Or maybe it was true.  Maybe I was just a douchebag of a kid.   Maybe nobody liked the loud, opinionated blowhard five year old who was so tiny, her clothes, already sized for a toddler, had to be tied to her little body with string.   Yet had the nerve to always be in someone’s face telling someone what she knew.

Maybe that’s why I always had an overwhelming sense of not being liked by grown ups or even other kids for that matter.   It would rear up periodically and sometimes stop me in my tracks mid-sentence.  To make matters worse,  any ridiculously small slight justified that sense and proved I was right.  There is nothing more dangerous than me when I am right.  For example, the day my parents told me that I was going to be a big sister.  Even at five years old, I knew what they were really trying to say.  That I was not enough.  That even my own parents disliked me so much that they were going to try again.  They were actually growing another child in hopes of creating one that they could like.  From that point on, everything became about the baby – the baby this, the baby that.  I was right about something so wrong and it hurt so good.

When my dad retired from the army, we moved from the base housing in Fort Dix into an apartment complex in nearby Mount Holly, NJ, while my dad finished up his last year at Trenton State College.  The apartment was on the second floor so we had to walk up a flight of steps to get to it.  That is my most vivid memory of my first impression of that apartment.  The stairs.  And that there were white people.  I’m not exactly sure why I started to notice white people at this time.  I’m sure there had to be white people on the base but I don’t recall any.  At our new apartment complex, there were two girls around my age, Cindy and Wendy.   The two girls lived with their parents in the end unit of Building A while my family occupied the end unit at the other end of the same building.   One of the sisters, Wendy, was in my kindergarten class at school.  She was the mousy older sister to the fiery red-haired, Cindy.  Fiery describes her personality, not just her hair.  People always referred to them as a set like salt and pepper but Cindy was always the salt.  She came first.  They were never Wendy and Cindy even though Wendy was older. Even way back then, the younger Cindy was a boss bitch and was, frankly, bad as hell.  Keep in mind that I was five when we moved so Cindy was just three, maybe an early four so I wouldn’t be surprised today if she was somewhere serving time for armed robbery.

One day the girls and I were playing outside on the lawn between our two apartments while their mother and another neighbor chatted nearby.  As we set about the serious business of organizing our game of whatever, Cindy pulled on my arm pretending that she was going to whisper something in my ear but instead she blew into it.  Hard.  Spit flew out of her mouth and hit the side of my face.  I let out a yell that was certainly too loud for little girls playing in the courtyard of Building A.  At the end of my yell, I heard Cindy and Wendy’s mom tell the other adult disapprovingly, “That girl has such a big mouth!”  Just then, I could feel the weight of my mouth. My lips felt too large and it felt like they were spreading across my face.  I remember the shame I felt that others could see my growing mouth.  It wasn’t just my imagination.   Even though I could never catch it in the mirror, I knew it was really happening.

I tried to act like I didn’t hear what Cindy and Wendy’s mom said.  I tried to keep playing but eventually the weight of my mouth and the shame of it all got the better of me.  I ran across the courtyard and up the stairs to our apartment and stood in front of my parents, gasping for air with my hands on my hips.  I stared at them willing them to look up and see my mouth. I panted even harder to get my dad to look up from studying or my mom to look up from cooking dinner.  Neither one did.  I announced breathlessly that I needed water.  My mom handed me a glass and gave me a once over.  Saying nothing, she returned to washing the rice.  I waited for her to say something about my mouth but…nothing.  I gulped the water loudly and released a long, loud “aaaaahhhhh!”  Still nothing.  I slammed the cup on the counter and announced, “Finished!”  As I turned to leave the kitchen, my mother called out,

“Genie-yah…”

Finally!  I turned quickly so that she could see the gravity of what was happening to my mouth.

“…put the cup in the sink!”

I faced her squarely now, gleefully anticipating her panicked reaction to my huge mouth.

Nothing.

Sulking, I went to the room I shared with my older sister and waited.  Eventually my mouth returned to it’s normal size so I moved on with my life.  I lived with the syndrome, though, of the big, heavy mouth throughout most of my childhood.  People constantly saying I had a big mouth and the feeling of heat and heaviness as my mouth stretched across my face.  Even though everyone pretended they didn’t see anything unusual on my face, I often retreated to a private place, perhaps the bathroom or even inside my head trying hard to become invisible until I could feel my mouth return to it’s normal size.  By five years old, I already knew that my mouth could become too big to bear and that I should retreat until it returned to something manageable.

 

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“Which Is Better — To Have Laws And Agree, Or To Hunt And Kill?”

My memories of early childhood are riddled with mean American kids, slanting their eyes with their fingers and pretending to speak Chinese.  Chasing me around the schoolyard and forcing me to say certain words so they could laugh at what I now know was probably a pretty heavy accent.  Long recesses spent alone with books and toys while the other kids got together to heckle me in a language that I didn’t fully understand.

I even had a teacher, in a misguided attempt to Americanize me, force me to drink milk until I threw up on the floor in front of the other kids.  I can still hear her saying, “We drink milk here and you will drink it, too.”  Good old Mrs. Jan Brewer.  I wonder what ever happened to her.  I heard she moved to Arizona or something…

When I complained to my parents, the higher priorities of keeping five growing children fed, clothed, educated, safe and – in one sister’s case – reasonably dry were hastily explained as I was ushered back to my room to start my homework so my mother could turn food for four into dinner for seven while my father studied through the night to finish college.

So, there I was left to my own devices.  And you know what?  Like millions of kids before me and millions of kids since…I figured it out.   Somewhere I survived the bullies and to be quite frank, I developed life skills: a thicker skin, a stronger backbone, a smarter mouth, a more resilient ass and a gag reflex that is easily triggered by dairy products and racist assholes.

Listen, I get it.  Bullies are different now because they got guns.  I’m not talking about those kids.  I’m talking about a mean bigger kid who teases your kid relentlessly and pushes his head into the toilet every now and again.  That kid is a kid.  Your kid is a kid.  Kids gotta deal with kids.  If your kid can’t handle kids, then your kid damn sho’ can’t handle life.  Life will beat the hell out of your kid better’n any bully I know.  Your kid has to learn to bob and weave, to tuck and roll, and, when necessary, to fight.  He has to learn that there are winners and losers…and that, if he wants to be a winner, he’s gotta make that happen.   Those who figure it out rise to the top!

Now it helps if you got some shit to give him to give his ass a head start.  Cuz I met your kid…and well, let’s just say, I fought the urge to stick his head in the toilet myself.  So, if he has a trust fund or a nice car, it’ll help.

All I know is that we are getting our first wave of adults who were once children raised by overprotective parents who turned everything into a cause and fought every battle on their behalf.  I gotta say, it really sucks.  They grow into squishy-bottomed grown ass folk who don’t know how to deal with any adversity at all.  Who drop out at the least hint of challenge.  And, of course, as red-blooded Americans, the rest of us just want to pinch their arm fat until they cry (which, trust me, doesn’t take long at all.)   It’s just not good for scoiety.

Before you all cuss me out, I’ll go on the record as saying – bullying is bad.  Not good.  Bullies suck and nothing makes me happier than watching one get his or her ass handed back by a little mousy kid who finds within himself the resolve to stand up and fight.

But while all of this anti-bullying stuff may sound great in theory, kids have been “self-socializing” since the beginning of time.  It’s adults who can never figure shit out.  Granted, this could go both ways.  I have visions of my little nephew, Piggy, running through his kindergarten class, wearing nothing but clam diggers and screaming “I have the conch!”…

Wow, on second thought, what the hell do I know?  I don’t have no damn kids.

As you were!

Who’s Afraid Of Dating The Big Bad Wolf??

Has it come to this?  Singles, I know the pickins are slim but damn!  The statistics are frightening and the reality can be discouraging but we have to make sure for our own sanity and perhaps our own safety that we don’t mistake being somebody’s somebody for being anybody’s somebody.    Not everyone deserves the opportunity to impact our lives and the lives of the little ones who depend on us.

This is a real tragedy.  (click here)  Devastating!  Let’s not waste the lesson in it.  I’ll admit you never know what folks are experiencing until you walk a mile in their shoes but I’d like to think that, as a therapist, I wouldn’t marry any student – especially if the class I taught was anger management.  The suspect just got out of jail, then had to attend anger management class.  And if I was going to marry someone who has to take a special class to manage his anger, I’d like to think I wouldn’t pick a recent graduate.  Perhaps I’d pick someone with an advanced degree in anger management.  Maybe someone who passed the practicum with flying colors or published a paper on it.  We certainly wouldn’t be moving his tassel from one side to the other on the way to the altar.  The last thing I need is to finally find my soul mate only to be stabbed 57 times with a butter knife because I didn’t pass him the gravy the first time he asked.

Not to trivialize this…because the real tragedy is the child who lost his mother and the tremendous hurdle he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to clear.  Perhaps he’ll continue the cycle of abuse, certainly he’ll have anger of his own to conquer.  With a bit of blessing, the remaining adults in his life will squeeze out of this horrific experience the only possible teaching moment – violence is not a means of communication, for anger or any other emotion.

Ahhh, Glasshoppah, Once Again, The Student Has Surpassed The Teacher…

According to this article, [click here]  Levi Johnston has come forward to clarify the accuracy of personal statements made about the Palin family.  In other words, he claims he was lyin’, y’all.

I read his apology and found his words to be eloquent and apropos.  It was a honorable apology by he who has grown into quite an honorable man.

We should all be so lucky to have our teenaged daughters knocked up by such an honorable young man as this.

Little Johnny Can’t Read Because One Of The Three R’s Was Hijacked For (R)ight-Leaning Agenda.

 I just reviewed the bio of each member of the Texas State Board of Education. The recent decisions they made about the curriculum (click here) are no surprise when you learn that of the 15-member board, only 6 have any hands-on teaching experience within the community they profess to serve. Why on earth is it a logical decision to ask non-educators to make decisions about school curriculum? Clearly, the key decision makers in Texas must have been educated, well, in Texas. (Please note the punctuation lest my comment could easily be misread as being “educated well in Texas” which the Texas SBOE has just turned into an oxymoron)

Now having gotten that question off my chest, I gotta look at the process and call it appropriate. I’m not being critical of the process at all. Texas has exercised it’s just right under the Constitution to make this decision…and the Constitution, my friends, is no specific lover of children. So, we as a country just need to prepare ourselves for a coupla generations of ignorant ass poop-flingers from Texas. Only this time, let’s not make ’em President.

To be fair to the makeshift educators, I’ve met some of these kids. I know what you’re up against cuz I gotta say…these kids comin’ up today, well, let’s just either some of them have extra chromosomes or methinks we’ve room for improvement in our education system. It’s not their fault, it’s ours. We haven’t taught them the basics – how it’s harder to swallow your food before you chew it (biology,) how just because a glass door is clear doesn’t mean we don’t have to open it first before running through it (physics,) how you shouldn’t drink something just because it smells good even if Daddy lets the car drink it (Daddy?  what’s that? anywho…) how tellin’ your Aunt Kym to shut up will get you dropped like a bad habit (survival) Without this basic knowledge, I agree with the Texas SBOE, we can’t hardly ask these babies to use any critical thinking skills during the hours of 9:00a and 3:00pm. (Now, before you get mad at me for calling the babies out, look over at your kids…is one of ’em doin’ something dumb right now? Tasting the soap because it looks creamy, perhaps? I know, baby…I’m on YOUR side)

Now that I’ve said that, let me also say – I think both sides of this equation suck. The Texas SBOE is not changing a system that’s in fine working order. The current curricula seems to be leaning a little far to the left. That’s the problem with leaning too far in any direction, you galvanize the other side and the pendulum will eventually swing far in the opposite direction. I’m no educator so I don’t know…but can’t we just present the children with all of the knowledge and let them make age-appropriate decisions for themselves? Can we just teach them that almost everything they encounter in life will come with multiple perspectives and that their job is to look at all sides and follow their conscience? Must we force feed them our own narrow-minded views and myopia? Are we so afraid of intelligent children that we’d rather feed them a steady diet of video games, overly processed foods and already chewed information?

I don’t know much. And I ain’t got no kids. But I do know that ignorance is a hell of a legacy. If you think we got it bad now, come back and visit fifty years from now after we’ve sanitized our new generation of leaders of the ability to think and innovate and evolve. This is the foundation of America, a country founded by thinkers and believers. Oh! And slaves. Why do we keep forgetting the slaves?

Don’t Listen To Them, Listen To Me! I’m A Republican, I Know Spanking.

Spanking is a strong predictor of violence in children before the age of 5.  (click here)  Really?  And here all this time I thought it was a strong predictor of who’s NOT going to be robbing banks by the age of 9. 

Listen, I know these are smart folks.  I know they work at Tulane and they’re doctors, these are not stupid people.  I suspect that they are not sexy people either but that’s a post for another day.  What we need to rap a taste about today is these damn kids that are completely out of control…and I think these studies are to blame.

NOW, you know good and HELL WELL (for emphasis and for your information, I did a pregnant pause between HELL and WELL cuz I meant it!) that these bad ass kids need a good, old-fashioned foot-in-your-ass, knock ’em out with one punch…and then wake ’em up with another punch beatdown every now and again.  But instead they’re getting time outs and that, my good educated people, is why they stay cussin’ their mamas out in front of the candy shelf at the cash register, in the line at the bank, at the Jiffy Lube (where I once saw a child cuss his mama OUT like she stole his winning lottery ticket for telling him “that we agreed we weren’t going to play with our privates outside.”  He cussed her out so bad, I couldn’t bear her shame.  That was just too much trauma for me, I had to leave the damn Jiffy Lube in a jiffy but sho’ nuff without the lube!) at the table at The Olive Garden — you name it, these kids are large and in charge.  Although Michelle Obama is working on the first problem, we gotta get a handle on the second.  That’s right, I’m calling your big, bulbous, bossy, badass babies out!

Folks, let’s not ignore history.  The fact is, for generations, our folk have been hands on with the babies.  No one is saying to beat these kids to a pulp but you can take a child and smack some sense into them every now and again without worry that they’re going to get all O-ren Ishii on your ass for calling the shots when they get out of order.  The truth is there is wisdom in the old ways.  Despite this article’s assertion that your child’s fear is something to be avoided, the truth is actually different:  your child’s fear is to be cultivated and then harnessed.  Fear of getting burned is why they don’t touch the stove and that’s a good thing because it leads to a safe, productive outcome.  The same logic applies.  You want that fear to work for you.  Don’t listent ot them folks who tell you that your kids shouldn’t be afraid of you.  Yes, they should — particularly before this big, corn-fed boy outgrows your ass and you completely lose control.  You gotta get the upper psychological hand early. 

I totally get that when it comes to kids discipline is not “one size fits all.”  It takes a combination of methods throughout your child’s formative years.  Developing your child’s social and behavioral boundaries will likely be a lifelong endeavor as you reach each milestone ahead of him or her.  Indeed, as much as your child watched and learned about work ethic when you left him early every morning at the breakfast table, he will watch you finally crawling the last mile to a hard-fought retirement.  As you gather your things and walk past your child’s curious gaze, eyeing him lovingly as he turns back to his bowl of cereal…smack the back of his head so his face hits the Cheerios and make sure the milk splashes.  Why you gotta be the only one goin’ to work?  That grown m#%&% is sittin’ at home eating Cheerios while you take your ass to work because 40 years ago, yo’ dumb ass chose the time out rather than the knock out!

Big Mac, Filet o’Fish, Foreign Baby, French Fries, Quick Adoptions, Thick Shakes, Takebacks and Apple Pies!

I blame this on Angelina Jolie and Madonna.  (click here) What the HELL would make you think you could adopt a baby from Russia, bring him to the U.S., screw his little psyche all up and then send his ass back because he’s not actin’ right?  If everyone who’s kid acted an ass could pack him up and fly him to another country, there’d be no damn kids in America! See, these celebrities will make you think this adoption mess is quick and easy but there is nothing, I mean nothing,  like pickin’ up a quick, little foreign ass McBaby only to find out he got plans to burn yo’ house down…with you in it.

Don’t get me wrong, adopting a kid is easy…when your paper is long.  You can have all kinds of nannies, psychologists and Mexicans to smooth out the rough spots.  But if you’re just ass out, then be prepared to be rode hard and hung up wet once or twice throughout the process.  After all, look at what you did – you took a seven year old from the only home he’s known, put him through a 14 hour plane ride to a strange country…Tennessee of all places, where he really stands out without a cousin to hump or BB gun to shoot ‘coons off the fence.  (Twenty bucks says you can’t guess if I’m talking about a rodent or not) He’s got no idea what’s going on – no more friends, no more vodka, no more bear wrestling.  So, of course, he smacks you a couple-twenty times.  It’s a stress reliever, little Nikolai got the KGB on his ass, nonstop Miley Cyrus on the radio AND dude in the next trailer looks decidedly like Jason Bourne.  Who wouldn’t start a small fire in the living room under these conditions?

And what the hell is wrong with the woman who adopted him?  Damn, even if I wanted to return a sweater to the store, I would accompany it back to the store.   I hate to say it…no, I damn don’t!  I LOVE TO SAY IT!  I hope her ass is arrested.  She needs to catch a case behind this one.  That child was in her custody, legally he is her child, even if he is a little psycho.  In this country, you can’t put your 7 year old on a plane to send him to another country into the custody of a perfect stranger without spending some time in a cell spooning with Frankie the pre-op Latin King who tries to lure you outta your knickers with the pruno she bought for 40 loosies and the birthday money her husband put on her commissary.  Wait!  What the hell were we talking about?  Oh, yeah!  Should this lady be allowed to get away with this because the kid is not American?  C’MON!! We gotta do better than this, people!

But in a broader sense, isn’t there something wrong with a chick who can turn a sick child away like that? I mean, ain’t we supposed to be hardwired to be all tender and shit?  At the very least, she coulda tethered him to a pole out back until the meds started to kick in.  I swear!  Some broads just ain’t fit for motherhood.