Let us muse.
What not to say
I was in a car accident last night; I’m fine, unharmed, though my car is a bit worse for the wear. Today I received this message from my mother on my facebook wall:
the thing about becoming an experienced driver is watching out for everyone else: especially the ones who don’t follow the rules, and believe me, there will always be plenty of those so you always have to be on the defensive for those guys! Unfortunately following the rules yourself doesn’t guarantee your safety, not by a long shot, you have to anticipate what the other idiot is going to do! That is a skill that takes years to perfect!
Thanks Ma. You know nothing about the circumstances, all you know is I had an accident, I’m not hurt, and that it was the other driver’s fault as far as I could tell. Yet you neatly managed to turn that back on me, to make it somehow my fault that it was their fault, turn this already terrifying ordeal into a guilt-inducing one as well. Now I’ll have these words in the back of my mind whenever I do manage to drive again, telling me to always be tense and afraid because at any moment, blam, someone could hit me out of nowhere and it’d be my own fault for not knowing that they were a bad driver ahead of time. This is why I have anxiety issues.
My mother could be an entire book of blog posts by herself except that I can’t write it.
I was going to leave it there, but then I received the following gem:
“I’m sorry you always take everything I say on the negative”
Wow. Are you fucking kidding me? That’s the most fake apology I’ve ever seen. Not only is it the classic “I’m sorry you took my totally innocent statement badly” cop-out, but it’s also use of “always” with regards to one incident and more guilt-trip.
Holiday money-saving tips
I hate those articles with titles like “How to save money around the holidays”. Inevitably, they’re tips on pinching pennies in areas I don’t perform. Real Simple Magazine is the most egregious example I’ve seen this year.
Tip 1: Save costs on catering by…
Hold on. Catering? Who caters Christmas? Seriously, I’m dying to know who’s throwing a catered Christmas party and how can I get in their good books. They suggest asking people at Williams-Sonoma; if I could afford to shop there I wouldn’t be looking for money-saving techniques.
Tip 2: Save on flowers…
Are you kidding me? Flowers? I’m not worried about flowers, trust me.
The next three are more reasonable but also more questionable. Save on trees by haggling – retail workers everywhere despise hagglers who refuse to take the listed price as a given, because often the prices are set by someone above them and the lowly cashier can’t do a damn thing about them. I wonder what the statistics are on independently-owned tree lots and chains. Besides which, a good fake tree will get you more bang for your buck if you’re habitually pressed for cash.
Save on wine by comparison shopping. Yes. Comparison shopping is good. Not particularly exciting, but good.
Save on mailing gifts by squishing things into a smaller flat-rate box. That’s almost sensible, except for the bonus tip:
About a week before Christmas, some carriers may automatically send packages out next-day within some regions of the country, regardless of whether you paid for expedited service.
Ha ha ha are you shitting me they’re not even promising two-days on a letter in the same TOWN anymore, let alone packages. The post office is going fucking broke. They’re not doing anyone any favors. And if you’re using a more expensive service to ship than USPS, well, you’re not saving money, are you? So there’s that.
The Lion King II
I love the Lion King. After years of going back and forth, I even begrudgingly like the sequel. But one exchange has always bothered me:
Kiara: If there’s so much I must be / can I still just be me / the way I am? / Can I trust in my own heart / or am I just one part / of some big plan?
The song Simba had been singing to his daughter had been meant to be comforting, emphasizing how they’re all part of a larger cycle that includes their forefathers and eventual descendants so nobody ever has to feel alone while shouldering the heavy burden of kingship. It’s deep and meaningful to him, as a man who lost his father at a young age and worried he wouldn’t be able to live up to the responsibilities of kingship and fatherhood, and he wants to share that meaning with his daughter so she doesn’t feel as alone as he did when he lost his own father. Which is all fine, and touching, but Kiara’s never known loss or loneliness like that. She’s got a different issue on her mind: does the fact that she’s part of a large family with a deep history and a destiny mean she loses the ability to be an individual? Does her family’s tradition of kingship mean she can’t make her own decisions in life but must slavishly follow tradition? In the face of this overwhelming dynasty, is she a unique and important individual or just a mere cog in the Circle of Life?
Simba’s response, however, is major Parenting Fail:
Simba: Even those who are gone / are with us as we go on; / your journey has only begun. / Tears of pain, tears of joy/ one thing nothing can destroy / is our Pride, deep inside / we are One.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand in a parent, it’s being so blinded by your own needs that you fail to view your child as a separate individual, assuming that their needs are equivalent or subordinate to your own. As Horton said:
A person’s a person, no matter how small.
Children are not fully grown adults, and in many cases don’t understand enough about the world to make good decisions. But that doesn’t mean their fears, their pain, their concerns, their triumphs and their failures, their joys and their sorrows are any less real and important to them; their lives are no less important than adult lives, and their daily experience shapes them to no less degree than adult experiences shape adults, probably more so. The best thing you can do for your children is to listen to what they’re telling you rather than assume you know best.