Friday, March 16, 2007

June Cleaver never knew Pink Floyd

There is a comment that my husband made to me, many years ago. It was a comment that he thought was funny, enduring, and of course, enlightened. He made it more than once. Even after I told him to shut up, and then later told him to shut the fuck up. I don’t think he would make it today and I highly doubt that he even remembers making it to begin with but I can recall everything about it.

Now, many moons ago, I didn’t want to have kids. My own mother told me “For your children’s sake, I hope you never have kids.” (Yeah, about that little comment mom, I could have said the same thing to you.) And when I found out I was, in fact, pregnant, let’s just say that it took a little while for me to get used to the fact. While most people find out that they are pregnant and can go back to work and tell all the girls and there are squees of delight from co-workers, I had the humiliating experience of being winched off the back of a moving LNG tanker in the middle of the South China Sea because I kept passing out and feeling like I was on the verge of death. No, it wasn’t death, just a coffee bean sized job-altering multi-cellular glob of daughter. Yeah, I was a pretty, pretty pregnant mamma.

So, after getting used to not having a job anymore and getting to know the human-type person I had helped to bring into the world, I decided that my main job now was to be the kind of mom that I wished I had. (Funny side note: When you have been informed by an OB/GYN that your innards are not conducive to making babies, check out that diploma on his wall. It might just be his Am-Way sellers certificate). Because I am so damn pig headed and I have an internal mechanism that is pre-programmed to prove other people wrong, I was determined to prove to my mother that I would not raise a neurotic child that was full of fear and loathing. Nothing could top the fabulous job that she did. (Did I mention that my mother was dead by this point? Yeah, quite the fucked up thought process, eh? Got to prove a point to a dead woman…)

So even while working full time, I made it a point to do “stuff” with my daughter, and eventually my son. We did scads of educational things, I did Montessori activities at home, we went to play groups, we went to museums, and whenever the kids were interested in any sort of topic, I’d do my best to encourage their interest. I know more about dinosaurs, rockets, and quantum physics than I ever thought possible (the quantum physics thing came a little later for my son, I think he was four.)

It was in this crazy process of being constantly amazed at the unfolding of a child’s mind that my husband said:

“Remember when you said you weren’t the mothering type? Now look at yourself. You’re June Cleaver.”

How would you take this comment? Any normal woman would probably take it as a compliment. They would probably realize that the consummate “mother” image for the last 40 years or so is June Cleaver. They would probably be flattered.

I believe I actually did get to the bathroom before I broke into tears. June Freakin’ Cleaver? Me? The girl in the leather mini-skirts and “fuck you” boots? The feminist that was blazing her own trail and answering to no one? The woman that didn’t need anything or anyone, only her brain and her determination?

I had never been so insulted in my life. June lived to make her husband happy. June lived to raise her children. June never thought about June. June never looked at Ward and said “I don’t give a damn how your day at the office went. Fuck you, your cocktail, your kids, and your little dog too.” In other words, June lacked two things that I hoped I had: a spine and an imagination.

To this day, when I see that Leave it to Beaver is on t.v I burn with the fury of a thousand suns. I am sooooo not June.

Perhaps the biggest reason I am not June? I view my family as an interlocking, yet modular unit. We are four individuals who happen to care about each other and live under the same roof. I can teach my kids, advise my kids, and love my kids, but I am NOT my kids.

Where is all of this heading? Once again, straight up my ass.

The old phraseology was “Soccer Moms”, the new phraseology is “Helicopter Parents”. These are the parents that insist that their kids get into the best schools, even if that school isn’t right for their kids. They write their kid’s college essays and sue the schools when their children don’t complete an assignment and get a “bad grade”. (Oh yeah, the kid was already way above 4.0.) They call around for their children to find out what businesses are hiring (I have personally spoken to a few). In other words, they ARE their children. The kids? They end up going to schools that aren’t right for them woefully unprepared for the realization that the world does not revolve around them. They don’t understand that just because they didn’t turn in an assignment on time, the professor won’t take that call from mommy and then give them another week to finish. They enter the workforce and can’t grasp the fact that just because you’ve worked at a place for a month, you don’t get first choice when people are signing up for vacation and your co-workers have been there for twenty years. How is this helpful to a kid?

But am I any better when I go into my kid’s parent/teacher conference humming “The Wall”? I want my kids to do the best that they can and so far, they’ve done great. The best thing that I’ve taught my kids? Actions have consequences and sometimes you have to shovel a lot of shit before the flowers grow.

So, I’m ducking out on parent/teacher conference this time. It seems like just yesterday when I went to the last one! And the one teacher that I love to death will call me with a phone conference. And the other teacher wouldn’t be able to find her own ass with both hands tied behind her back. We have about 2.5 months to go before I won’t have to deal with this woman anymore. All I can say is that she makes me tired all over.

And June? She’d never say that.

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