This trait came from my dad. Or the nature that spawns this trait is from my dad.
My dad never ever just pays a parking ticket, speeding ticket, or any other kind of ticket. He always goes before the judge and pleads his case. He once spent a weekend in jail so that he wouldn’t have to pay a fine for speeding.
I am also that kind of asshole. I’m a little less inclined to go to court to give those mouth breathers (in my mind, every person with authority is next-door-to-comatose stupid) a chance to judge me to my face. I’m more likely to pay the fine but send a searing letter that nobody will read. Yeah! Take that!
I get this little tingling in my fingers, and my knees go weak, and I get so irrationally angry whenever I see police lights in my rear view, or whenever somebody is telling me to do something or not to do something just because they can.
We’ve been watching John Oliver’s New York Comedy Special on Netflix. Unrelated to authority, I think John Oliver is incredibly cute. Like wanna-see-him-naked cute. I think it’s the dimples more than the accent. Which is queer for me, because I’ve always fancied myself a bit of an anglophile (you can all blame Roald Dahl for this. He has been my standard for good reading & jokes since 1985). But in J.O.’s case, it’s definitely those deep, deep dimples. And the cute glasses & hairiness. And because he’s smart and funny. Right.
But Eugene Mirman, who is cute in a totally different way from John Oliver, said on one of the episodes, “There are two things I’m afraid of, authority and _____.” I forget the second thing because I didn’t hear it because I was busy thinking about my own feelings about authority, and whether I would describe them as fear.
Maybe I would. Maybe that ass-cheek clenching moment of gut-sink adrenaline surge every time I get pulled over, or even waved on by a traffic rent-a-cop, is fear instead of hate. Maybe the hate comes later. Maybe Eugene Mirman taught me something about myself.
But every time I drop Child off at school, and I watch her get swallowed by that monolithic, public grade school, I swallow a little bit of the bile of this fear, and I remind myself that I’m a grownup, and I tell myself that institutions are good for people, and whatever other psychobabble I can croon to myself (like a mother to a baby–sometimes my inner life is creepy like that) to help me resist the temptation to run over that kindly, old, crossing guard who loves the children.
But he is telling me how to drive with his smug reflective jacket and white gloves. Who does he think he is? This is one of the many, may reasons I’m glad that we walk to school most of the time. Fewer impulses to control. I have no power in my fists. Only in my 1.9 liters of Nissan Versa fury.
And the principal, who I initially liked more than last year’s, even though I finally decided that blowhard was okay, but showy and disingenuous in that gelled-hair-I’m-in-my-30s-with-3-kids-and-I-have-a-real-job way, which is really more about insecurity than actual douche-baggery, right? I mean maybe.
Anyway, this new guy. Mr. F____. He’s nice enough. Ish. I went to pick up Child about 3 days ago. As I walked up the hill, I saw her going back and forth between the stairs and the mouth of the school, plucking the elbows of grownups. I thought, “what the heck is she doing?” As I got closer, I saw the urgency in her movements and the wide-eyed panic, and I thought, “Oh shit. Somebody’s unconscious.”
As it turned out, some little boy was crying because he ran into a light post.
When I got to child, she was plucking Mr. F____’s elbow, saying, “Elroy got hurt and he is crying” and the weeping boy had attached himself to Mr. F_____’s belt, and Mr. F_____ said to Child, “Where is he?” and child laughed and said, “He’s right there.” and pointed to the blubbering 50 lbs attached to F____’s belt.
Mr. F____ asked Elroy (not his real name), “Were you being safe?”
Not, “Are you okay?”
“Were you being safe?”
Pretty sure the kid was just playing. Six year olds do not process the safety of their actions. They are like the extreme sports of the under-ten set. Child likes to hang out by the stove. She chooses the moment I have something that’s at least 300 degrees F tenuously grasped in an oven mitt to pluck my elbow. I invariably screech, “Child!” and she invariably says, “Sorry!”
Saying, “Think before you act” to a six year old is like asking an Ostrich to quit laying such damn big eggs.
So Mr. F____’s reaction to Elroy’s little booboo seemed inappropriate.
And of course, I thought to myself, Mr. F____ is a douchebag. Of course he wasn’t being safe. Wouldn’t a better question be, “what have we learned?” Assface.
Six year olds will get it if you connect the dots for them. They are not good at connecting their own dots, though.
I am uncomfortable having such strong reactions to people just because of what they represent. I want to like people. I want to think Mr. F____ is doing a good job considering that he spends his whole life policing people who don’t shave or menstruate. But I also want to think that he might’ve learned a thing or two about child behavior, development, etc. in all his years of schooling.
And I want to send my kid to some hippie school where they talk about thinking as an activity, and kids only get punished for things that really deserve punishment, and there is extreme emphasis on self-directed learning and critical thinking and reading for knowledge. Or home school her with a cadre of hippie tutors who I’ve hand picked from the catalogue of awesome Ivy-League child-development experts who are also kind and cool and not anal or overly permissive–who strike the perfect balance between firm and fun.
But the economic reality of the situation is that I will probably keep sending Child to public school, and she will do fine, and that will be good, because public school is much more like reality than hippie school, even though she’d learn more and have a better brain. But really? What good is a better brain? Better brains just mean you are more frustrated when people behave stuipdly.
In other news, watch out your inbox for junk mail form g-mail security. They are lying. They are not Gmail security, because G-mail does not have a hyphen. Mark it as spam. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. See? Noticing details in written language has its benefit s after all.