Sunday, July 29, 2007

Running With Scissors

(Wherein the author circumlocutes in an effort to avoid running down the in-laws immediately as this is is wife's blog and there may be some trouble in the non-binary relationship at chez Mo, but fails, as the allusion to the topic of the post is evident both from its title and the throat-clearing introduction through which he is presently struggling, and in an effort to avoid the subject he will, of course, attempt to discuss his own life, his family, and the perilous nature of memory.)

I just finished reading Blood Meridian. I am tempted to now begin each post as McCarthy did his chapters: Post 456...- talks around takes the stick - additional circumlocution in the form of literary reference - Self-disclosure - kindergarten - mean teachers - tight pants - parents - false memory - in-laws - dinner - safety lapses - self-recrimination

I grew up in a nice, safe, expensive neighbourhood on the west side. That is to say, it was a hive of WASPS or people who weren't but had white collar jobs to match our flesh tones. My dad, he grew up on the east side. He may have run with a gang of delinquents at some point (Our Gang, I imagine) before he, uh, became an accountant. My mom, she was an air force child (back when Canada's planes were new), and a high school drop out before she, um, became a teacher. They desired gentility and security, thus the picket fence. Nonetheless I was branded a juvenile delinquent by my kindergarten teacher. I was 5. "Precocious" my dad would say. Mom, on the other hand, reviled the evil and senseless teacher who did not understand me and would upbraid me in front of my peers on a regular basis. I can recall one lengthy lecture wherein I was instructed as to the proper manner in which I was to carry scissors. Humiliating. In fairness to the teacher, I developed into a fine juvenile delinquent, and I credit her for recognizing my early potential.

Tight pants. Love them? Hate them? Discuss.

So it went through much of my schooling. I was, in point of fact, disruptive or detached and a cause for worry to parent and teacher alike until I finally finished school at the age of... 28. The folks were supportive although dad did question more than once my pursuit of an arts degree. In hindsight, I agree with his assessment that it was a pointless exercise and I would have been served better by taking a career-oriented degree. The problem was those programs would have interfered with my desire to attain perfect dissolution. In any event dad still tells me I was expelled from kindergarten by the instructor whereas mom tells me she withdrew me after seeing how the nasty lady was treating me. I have no recollection of these events.

Why the avoidance of the subject, to wit, my in-laws? I am now a parent. I have two neat kids whom I love and whom wear me out daily. As a parent I am obliged to make decisions about what my kids wear, eat, sit on, ride in, with whom they interact, where they will be schooled, and other parlous subjects such as safety with sharp objects, such as scissors. In this house scissors are behind closed doors and usually at an altitude, or in a location, unavailable to the kids. Scissor use is monitored fairly closely. When our daughter wishes to perform her little wood-cutting projects (as she is wont to do) we watch very closely, after all, she is 2.

Some would say Mo and I are a little too risk-conscious. Take, for example, Mo's parents. They say it a lot. Every time my concerns are dismissed, or those of my wife are dismissed, a red mist descends over my eyes... a red mist. The black bile rises. I feel blue (which matches the language I use in the internal conversation which begins on the drive home from their place). Visits to their home are colourful affairs.

Yesterday E. had a day trip to her grandparents. To wrap the activities Mo, Me and A. joined them for night dinner. It was excellent. For once there was a meal the kids both sat down to eat. I wanted to eat it. Mo Ma got it right and I was awash with warm fuzzy feelings and self-chiding thoughts about how I am too hard on her, the well-intentioned old bat that she is. That lasted a good 15 minutes.

It came time to bathe the kids before packing them into the van for the ride home. E came down the stairs from the sewing room where she is now quite often 'helping out'. There she was carrying scissors (improperly, i might add) and complaining of a sore finger. She pricked it with a pin. A pin... a pin! I took a look in said Mo Ma's sewing room and indeed many a pin was to be found. Many a pin... and seven pairs of scissors (eight if you count the pair E had), a hem puller, a box cutter, a handgun, and a small nuclear device... I had no idea when we arrived all this stuff was lying about at kid height and that E had ready access to this material through the course of our visit (the increasing number of holes in her shirt should have tipped me off, I suppose).

It was in a state of shock that I reported this to Mo as she bathed our son. It was then I noticed the open can of comet on the table next to the tub. Comet. Open. Kid's eye level. Open. I had no idea & c...

I love my in-laws but they are beyond the reach of reason. What can I do?

P-man out.

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Blogger Mad said...

Not a damn thing.

Helicopter parent?

Insist that your kids wear safety gear and granny and gramps?

i'm at a loss.

11:09 a.m.  
Blogger N. said...

I don't know how to deal with the fundamental lack of respect shown by your in-laws and mine. It only gets worse when the kids are vocal enough to side with their grandparents, as was the case in the spring when my 5 and 3 year olds took turns driving a full sized massey tractor around my in-laws farm.

I did manage to convince my mom to put batteries in the smoke detectors for the times when my kids sleep over.

11:26 a.m.  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I'm as unhelpful as the other commenters - I am blessed with fantastic in-laws.

And re tight pants (of a slightly different type): all I can think is what my father says. Nothing's right when your underwear's tight.

8:00 p.m.  
Blogger mamakie said...

We face similar concerns with my mother - she is an avid quilter and has been known to leave her pins casually stuck into the couch when sewing....of course leaving them behind when she gets up.

I think grandparents forget the things that are dangers to small children. I also find myself living in a 4 year old world (my eldest) and forget the things I should be remembering to be more aware of as dangers for my 2 year old.

As for the tight pants, it's just wrong. Great picture though - I plan to pass along the link to many so that they too can share in my disgust.

10:57 p.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Clearly your only recourse is to go in ahead of time with a preemptive strike and lock down every cupboard door and batten every hatch before you enter with the kids...

My mother is just as bad. we visit her place rarely, and make her come here, instead.

10:26 a.m.  
Blogger L. said...

Here is a story about in-laws and bio-hazards. When I was in Kyoto, I asked my mother-in-law for a vegetable peeler, to peel a carrot I intended to feed raw to my toddler. She handed me a peeler that was.....crusted with the germy patina of centuries. I believe it survived the Onin War. It was not a particularly well-made peeler -- it seemed to be some kind of tin, with a handle that may once had been wood, but had fossilized into something else.

She took one look at my face and pulled out a BRAND NEW PEELER from a drawer, and handed it to me without a word.

A few years later, on our last visit to Kyoto, I noticed her making dinner one night with the old grimy peeler. But because she was cooking the stuff she was peeling, I didn't complain.

I never saw the brand new peeler again.

9:02 p.m.  

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