Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sadists, Car seats, and in-laws.

Pull up a chair, ladies and germs - it's time for MT to do a wee bit o' rantage. The end of the post is non-rant, but you're going to read a fair bit o' flame-and-fire beforehand. So. Forewarned, forearmed, half-an-octopus, here we go:

I'm a first-time parent as most everyone reading this knows. This means that - by my nature as a rookie - I'm very likely to listen attentively to any and all comments on the subject of children, birth, child-rearing, pregnancy, the joys of breast feeding, and the implications of the sudden and dire need of the female to pee. Not only am I likely to listen, I'm rather inclined to take such information, when delivered, to heart - or at least consider it seriously. I'm going to make the apparently either massive and fallacious or accurate-and-yet-naive assumption that most people know this, or remember a similar state of mind from their own experiences as a first-time-parent.


Seriously? WTF is the thinking there? This is the same bovine stupidity and unthinking behavior that humans display when they go "Wow, this tastes horrible....try it." No thank you, I don't want to share in your misery. Misery may love company, but I'm a whole hell of a lot happier NOT sucking along with you, thanks. So why in the hell do people think "Gee, here's someone going down the road for the first time, let me increase their stress, discomfort, and fear as much as I reasonably can with anecdotes of woe." Is that the goal? Do people genuinely WANT to see someone else's suffering? Is the average schmuck so sadistic that they, knowing someone else must be vulnerable, feel the roaring need to give them a swift spiritual and emotional plant in the cojones? What kind of sick, twisted bastard tells stories about extended childbirths, raging psychopathic wives, and children who don't let them sleep for weeks on end? It's not like I can take back the pregnancy at this point. Do they want to see me a miserable, unhappy parent that produces an unbalanced child? Is their goal to further the entropy quotient in the human race? What the hell is wrong with you people?

The next time you see a first-time parent, tell them a good story. Tell them how you made it through just fine. Lie if you must, but for chrissakes, don't add to their stress - people have imaginations of their own, y'know? Show some empathy instead of stupidity, and the world would be a better place. That's a message for the masses in all realms.

And while I'm at it, don't friggin offer me your nasty drink in the future. K? K.

Second rant. Less of a rant, more of a "WT...?"

We've got this car seat in the garage someone gave us. Nifty car seat, don't get me wrong. Eddie Bauer. (Since when did Eddie Bauer get into the car seat fashion biz? Anyhow.) Here's what I don't get. The seat is rated for infants - but the dimensions are as follows:

Up to 52 inches in height, up to 100 lbs.

For those following at home, that's FOUR FEET FOUR INCHES tall and THE WEIGHT OF SOME SMALLER FEMALE ADULTS. Dear lord. What child is anywhere near that size and still in a car seat? I've got a student or two in eighth grade who meet those dimensions - do we seriously intend to make them ride in infant seats? Can you imagine that?

"I know we're driving to your friend's 13th birthday party, but hold still while I strap you into your car seat, dear. Next year we'll let you put your high school bumper sticker on the side - won't that be fun?"

Can you imagine the psychological trauma? 52 inch, 100lbs ain't an infant, folks - and it sure don't ride in Eddie Bauer's finest. I'm forced to wonder if the engineer(? advertising agent?) who specced that thing seriously considered the dimensions of the occupant at the high end.  Personally, about the time you cross four feet, I'm-a let you ride in the back seat normal, k? Sounds good.

Finally, a reference to something positive. Amy's in-laws just left this morning. (Ooops. That's not the positive bit, I swear.) They're good people. Unlike most stories (that's another one - why the nasty in-law stories, people? We're stuck with them, don't make it worse?) about nasty in-laws, these two are pretty cool folk. They're still together after umpteen crazy years (seriously, we're talking, like, fifty or more or thereabouts) and they still giggle at each other and I swear she might even think he still hangs the moon. They have their differences, sure, but we all do. The thing is, they're really encouraging and really scary all at the same time. 

I've never been the most socially comfortable person to begin with - I always feel weird around 90% of the planet, for whatever reason, because I feel like I can't relate - but with these two, it's something else. They're like, the UBER parents. Dad's a housing contractor builder guy - the man built three of the homes Amy grew up in with his own friggin hands. How much more awesome-dad can you get than that? His only requirement of me is that I make his daughter happy, and he means it. He's straightforward, honest, speaks his mind and works until he sweats, and that's when he calls it fun. There may be five mechanical devices on the planet he doesn't know how to repair without thinking about it, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what they are. His innate mechanical handiness makes my own macho self-image curl up in a corner and cry out for momma.

His wife, Amy's mom, is the same way. She cooks. She sews. She housekeeps. She mows the friggin lawn, and keeps the books for the family biz. The woman leads a group outside of the home in her town, and she even finds time to talk with Amy every other day or so and play with her grandkid a lot. She and Amy get along better than anyone I've ever seen - they have half-hour gigglefits with no apparent reason or sanity behind them - and she is literally one of the most "I can make the world better with a hug, a smile, and apple pie" people I have ever met. She raised a woman I consider to be one of the wonders of the world (I mean, c'mon, Amy puts up with ME, y'know?) and a son who by all accounts is pretty friggin impressive himself - he's never given me cause to complain.

The perfect housewife, the uber-house-building all-American dad, two kids, dogs, and they'd have a picket fence if it made any sense where they lived. 

Yeaaaahhhh...... and I'm gonna raise a kid to fit into that world. Me. The product of a dead biker and a drug-dealing-child-abuser-who-teaches-bitter-community-college-courses. Suuuuuure. I don't even say the Texas pledge, folks - my All-American ends with the first 30 seconds of the school announcements every day. How in the world am I supposed to resemble (forget compete, I ain't even in the minors for that league, sucka) anything like the kind of parent Amy's dad is? Now Amy, she's the spitting image of her ma and will no doubt continue to the family tradition of Uber-Momness.... but she sure ain't got another version of her dad carrying the other side of the load. My idea for fixing something is to give it a swift kick and buy a new one. I'll work up a sweat working, but don't expect skilled labor.

They're great people, but dang - talk about a high bar. At least when my kid decides he loves his grandparents better than his parents (c'mon, they all do that for awhile) this one will have a reason, neh?

Eh. Long post. Sorry about that. Sadistic people who tell you horror stories about their life suck. Be encouraging or shut up. Car seats need a dose of realism. I'm never going to be half the parent Amy's parents were, and it makes me a little nervous and in awe every time I'm around them.

MT out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shabot shalom? and other mysteries I'll never uncover

So Amy likes doing social things. I got invited to a bar-mitzvah (probably mangled the spelling there; Jewish coming-of-age-ceremony) by one of my students quite some while back, agreed to come, and promptly filed it away in the back of my head under the category of "if by some miracle I actually feel like it on the day of, and remember, and have clean clothes of the appropriate type, and don't have to pick my nose, yeah, sure, that'd be cool."

Unfortunately, being married to a socialite means when you accept social committments... you're actually expected to go. 

Dude. No one mentioned this in the fine print. (Okay, I lie. I've always known, but I continue to protest.)

So off we went. Lot of my students there, too. They seemed surprised to see me, and I was a bit surprised to see some of them. I guess they're a little surprised that one of their teachers feels a personal connection and commitment to them - and I guess I was a little surprised that they felt that kind of committment to each other. And let me tell you, two hours of people singing in a language you don't understand to notes they know and you don't is a gut check; you gotta like someone to wait that out. They did. We did. I'll also deny making any jokes in my wife's ear over the proceedings. I am NOT, repeat NOT irreverent. Really.

So the kid in question - I have to admit, as kids go, this dude's pretty clean-cut, honest, wholesome. He's the one I'll mention in my substitute notes as "the kid to ask for an honest answer on whatever issue." He says sir out of habit, and really is just a strikingly well-behaved dude. Don't get me wrong. He's still a teenager and loves his mischief and is a goof - but his heart is as clear as I've ever run into at that age. It's pretty impressive. I wouldn't bring this up so much except that, as teachers, you kind of eyeball kids and wonder which one yours will be like. Physically, there's just no way - he's neither heavily built nor tall, and Amy has both in her bloodline, and I'm the midget in a clan of giants by way of chemical interference during puberty, so there's no doubt that my 5'11" height is "fake." But this kid's parents apparently have some pretty sharp insights on how to raise a proper boy. It's funny... parents often come to their children's teachers on advice for how to handle their children.  Truth is, in some cases, I'd rather go to them.  Think I just may, too, when the time comes.

"Hey. Your kid possesses the impressive and unique qualities of neither being a freak nor a complete reject. How'd you pull that off?"

Flattering in its own way, I guess?

So Miss Amy's bump is starting to become noticeably more pronounced; the ball is picking up speed down the mountain, as it were. If I'm just glancing at my gorgeous wife, she doesn't look any different, but I don't have to inspect her long to pick it out anymore. I imagine before too long, even my permanent-mental-image-of-gorgeous-Amy will be able to pick out the changes on a glance. Part of me wonders what this will do on the hormonal level; I strongly suspect that any guy who says he finds his wife sexier when she's immensely pregnant is lying. Those qualities which most men find sexy are, by natural process, gone late in the pregnancy. That doesn't mean I won't still find her attractive for who she is, what she means to me, and so on, but it will obviously change some qualitative factors. I don't know by how much - it hasn't changed anything yet - but I'll admit I'm curious about it. I'm very analytical and "cold-minded" about the world around me, but I'd be a fool not to recognize I'm a creature of my body's own chemicals, too. Should be interesting to see how the two very different sides of Medieval Teacher react to the changes ahead.

Unlike the false alarm that Amy was coming out of the yuck phase earlier this month - heh, I wish - she really does appear to be coming out now. This arriving at the same time as we're both getting over a bout of coughs and icky stuffs, it works out well for everyone. Tip for fellows: Wives can't take the majority of aggressive anti-sickness drugs when pregnant. This means they stay contagious longer, greatly increasing your chance of getting sick. So wash more often, take preventative stuffs, etc, because unless your wife is uber-friggin-stinkin-cool like mine, she won't want to take care of you while she's pregnant and miserable. This will probably frustrate you, and while that frustration may be justified, her position of "I'm miserable too" is equally justified. Bear this in mind and avoid sickness when she is as much as possible.

Thanksgiving is due up fairly soon. I'll probably post something about that. I keep meaning to post more often in this thing, but the early stages of this pregnancy bit are a bit slow-going, and honestly, I didn't want to dwell unduly on the misery of the first trimester. I'd hate for my blog, as my students call it, to turn "emo."

Life continues onward. Mental note to talk about the strange and various gear you get when babies are on the way, including the biology-defying car seats.

MT out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dreams, Social Events, and Life in General

So life continues onward.

Had my first "baby dream" last night, I guess - the ones that actively involve you, your wife, and some infant-presence. In this case, I was being presented with The Unknown One (sounds much more impressive than "the baby") for the first time, and The Unknown One decided to demonstrate his very new masculinity by peeing on me. Apparently this is in point of fact a fairly common parental experience; my subconscious must take delight in tormenting me with "joys" yet to come. (Seriously - who the hell dreams of getting peed on? In any context? WTF is that about?)

Wife's becoming wife again. That isn't to say that the pregnabeast isn't making occasional appearances and she's not in psychohormone mode about cleaning or some other randomness, but at the very least morning sickness is now more of a weekly occasion than a daily one. This is having the expectable effect on the rest of our lives, which is a good thing. Still no sign of the most famous change of the second trimester (Heh, you wanted to know that, right? Hey, I'm writing this thing for posterity and future poor schlubs like me who have to figure out what's going on with their wives. Deal.) ...but I'm holding out a bit of hope.

So we went to a party this weekend, Halloween shindig one of my coworkers put together at her place. Normally I'm not keen on parties - in what I'm sure is another "Thank you Captain Obvious" moment for those who know me, I'm really not very social at all -  but I have to admit I had an okay time at this one. Part of the problem I have relating to...well...ALL.... of my coworkers, and indeed 99% of the teaching population in general is that I have absolutely nothing in common with them.

Average Teacher:
- Conservative
- Churchgoing
- Football Watching
- Sports-Loving
- Non-Academic-Fiend
- Non philosophical-debater-type.
- Probable Greek in College
- Watches television as a major pastime
- Believes video games are a major contributor to the misbehavior of children

- Independent Semi-Liberal
- Non-Atheist, but my views on religion, belief, and Church (three different things) are more complicated than the US Tax Code
- I'll watch one football team, ever, and only if I see it on by accident
- Interested only in unorthodox sports (fencing, archery, dodgeball, extreme sports)
- I'm quite content to discuss academic topics ad naus
- I'm also quite content to debate world topics (not politics) extensively, but people seem to drag any debate on the world back to tired old partisan politics
- Vehemently anti-Greek in College
- Hates most television, believing it to be a major contributor for the misbehavior of children
- Plays video games, and is actively involved in the development/creation of same you might say that the average teacher - 99% of the teaching population - and I have NOTHING to talk about after the weather and "children-in-school-these-days."

It seems I finally have a commonality with some teachers, though: this whole pregnancy bit. The wife did most of the talking, but here was a subject I could also add to/contribute with and not either be making stuff up completely, or be totally certain my views were "the enemy." I actually found myself enjoying talking to people that historically I've always felt very awkward around; not because I had anything against them or because of their conduct - far from it, they seem to think I'm a decent fellow for some reason - but because I actually had some common ground. Me, the Yankee-Born, Beach-Bred Non-Conformist, in the middle of the heart and soul of Red-Blooded Biblical Conservative America.

So at the end of the party, something truly bizarre happened - the wife wanted to leave before I did. Granted, the pregnancy probably played a huge part in that, and I'm sure I'll be back to my anti-social self before terribly long, but it was a strange evening.  I guess the whole point of this segment of blogging is this: having a kiddo gives you things to talk about with people you never really would've felt comfortable around before.

So life continues onward...dreams of getting peed on and all.