The Lady With the Pink Hat

About a week ago some controversy was spurred over a trend that is growing across the country, that trend being the No Children Allowed Restaurant.  More and more, restaurant owners are responding to the complaints of clientele who would prefer to eat their meals in peace, rather than have it ruined by some bratty kid whose parents are entirely hands-off on the discipline.  On the surface, this seems vaguely reminiscent of the old “one bad apple ruins the entire bushel;” although, to be fair, those without children at the dinner table have just as much a right to eat in peace as those with them have to let their kids run the show.

Some varied responses have been made to this.  Some have agreed, even those with kids, because they recognize the fact that parents these days just don’t believe their child should be disciplined (or, possibly that their child can do no wrong).  Some have disagreed on the basis that, while they recognize children can be completely out of control, it seems inherently wrong to refuse service to people just on the basis of the fact that they happen to be in a particular group of people (dare I call them:  the birthers).

We’ve talked about this before, the notion of people acting as though they are the only people on the planet, and so everyone else should cow-tow to their desires.  And, in fact, it seems to be happening more that people in society feel a sense of being entitled to do whatever they want, even if it means that they and their children are infringing upon the rights (and even safety of others).

Today I was at the library with my father, who happens to be a candidate for full hip replacement surgery.  Nearing his seventies, his bones have become so brittle that even the slightest fall could result in a fracture of his hips.  He even has a handicapped placard for his car.  While at the library, a child was running around and screaming while his mother was nowhere to be found.  Inevitably, the child ran into my father, nearly knocking him over.  My father looked down at the little boy and said “watch where your going, where is your mother?” and the kid ran off without another word.  Five minutes later, though, this lady in a pink hat stalked up to us and started yelling at my dad – in the middle of the library – for daring to respond to her son, who can clearly do no wrong.  After calming the situation down (although I did say that she should learn to be a parent as she walked away), she went off with her bratty toddler and we went about our business.

Despite the fact that the situation was calmed down, though, and the kid and his mother eventually got kicked out of the library because the little terrorist was ripping books off the shelf and screaming, this raises again the issue of the No Child Restaurant.  Had my father (or any other older person that spends a fair amount of their time at the library) been knocked over, he very likely would have broken a bone at the hands of a little boy that was allowed to run all over the place.  And had my father broken a bone, the only people that would have been liable for it in the end would have been the library.  Worse than him running all over the place, though, was the lady in the pink hat:  his mother.  Without knowing the situation or the health or the beliefs of other people, that woman has taken the position that so many other parents today take, which is that the safety and happiness of others is of no matter as long as they can do whatever they want.  That poor, little boy is on a surefire course for destruction later on in life and his mother has done nothing but teach him that he can be a monster, and to raise his voice if anyone questions that.  One day, that little monster will hurt someone in a place other than the library, where the only one liable is him; and then they will all have to pay the price of a mother that simply doesn’t want to deal with an unruly child.

When considering how to act in any public place, it seems we need to remind ourselves that public means that other people will be there, with entirely different situations than ours.    Not everyone thinks a screaming and destructive kid is the cutest thing next to teddy bears.  And sometimes, it can even be dangerous.  To those that still don’t understand why some restaurants have chosen to have a policy that no children be allowed, consider the actions of the lady with the pink hat.

Oh Mama

My mother and I pictured right

This will neither be the first, nor the last, time that I blog about my mother.  It’s no secret:  my mother lives an interesting lifestyle (and by interesting I, of course, mean insane).  In twenty-nine years she has given me one bizarre scenario after another:  from crazy boyfriends that claim they’re going on tour with Madonna, to setting me up on a date with a bartender when I was only sixteen.  Today’s phone call did not fail to meet the bar she has set up until this point.

Around 12:30 this afternoon, as I was rushing out the door, I received a phone call from her wherein she announced that this morning her boyfriend and she went down to the courthouse near his trailer in New Mexico and got married.

There are a myriad of reasons why this is a problem.  To start, she’s known the guy for roughly nine months, although every time I have mentioned that to her she reminds me that they both grew up in the same area so “essentially have known each other all along.”  Of that nine months, my mother has spent roughly six actual weeks with him, physically (the remainder of the relationship being over the telephone).  He told me six months ago that he was going to visit his daughter at school in Texas, only for him to reveal to everyone last week that he really had not communicated with any of his four daughters in over twelve years.  But it gets worse.  Since he and my mother met, he has “intended” on selling his home in New Mexico, but one debacle after another comes up, including a scene where the real estate agent reportedly punched out the guy at the bank of a prospective buyer; right now the story is that the real estate agent is in jail for an unrelated offense.  The crowning glory of the lies this guy has told was when he announced to everyone in my mother’s family that he was diagnosed with malignant cancer.  When I questioned a few things he said (mainly that his doctor supposedly said it would be alright to continue smoking two packs of cigarettes a day), three hours later he “miraculously” received a phone call with the news that his biopsy had incorrectly shown a malignant cancer, and it was really just a bacterial infection that a five-day course of Zithromax would clear up.  The line between fact and fiction with this guy is beyond blurry, so quite obviously my response to the whole situation of them getting married earlier today can be summed up in something I said to a friend in response:  I don’t know if I should be sending her a card or staging an intervention.  

So that’s the update on my mother, now to the relevance of it all.  In previous times that I have blogged about my mother, people have given me mixed responses.  Some have said that the candid humility I share my life’s story with is humbling.  This I consider a compliment:  my experiences with my mother and the characters she involves herself with are truly dysfunctional; to hide them would be to do nothing more than contribute to that very dysfunction.  For every time my mother has done something nice for me, she has followed that up with ten steps of hurt.  From abandoning me when I was ten, to exposing me to sex way earlier than any kid should be exposed; from stealing money and things from me, to spreading lies within her family about me and my contribution to her hardships – my mother has run me and my family through the gamut.  Talking about things that have happened is by far the healthiest thing a person can do in a situation like this.  And, anyway, beyond finding solace in honesty, if my mother didn’t want people to be talking about the things she does, well faithful blog followers, then she shouldn’t have done them.

But there has been another type of response to the blogs I have written about my mother, specifically more negative ones.  Some have said that I have gone against the very essence of a family’s value; that in a family these things happen and you just deal because it’s family.  Others have said that I owe my mother life and for that she can lie, cheat, steal, scandalize, abuse, use, and abandon me and my family all she wants.  On the day of my mother’s wedding, when she has ignored the advise of others and yet still expected them to come to her aid, I think now is the time to address these more negative responses.

One person said that I “should be ashamed to spread the business” of my mother around “like she’s anyone other than the person that gave me life.”  In response to that I simply reiterate that I carry myself with the utmost level of honesty that I can, so to lie about it would be against the very fabric of who I am.  To further that, I would have to argue that financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, I have repaid my mother for the life she gave me about fifty times over.

Another person responded that “one day” I will “regret such hostility towards her,” to which I question exactly where anyone finds hostility in honesty?  Here is where the real lesson comes in:  somewhere, somehow, our society morphed into this family-values-loving culture that defines everything by what is right for the family, rather than what is right for the betterment of our souls.  There are so many dysfunctional situations out there, in so many families, that are simply glossed over or turned a blind eye to merely for the sake of preserving the family.  And while it’s true that the reason why I continue to tolerate my mother’s shenanigans, time and time again, is because she is family, at some point I most certainly will say that enough is enough.  I will not regret it, either; in fact, no one should regret making the decision to be honest and true to themselves and their happiness.  There’s an old saying:  “some of the worst people I know are members of my family.”  I think this applies to a lot of familial situations and to stand by and let it go on is one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can do.

There are a lot of things in this world that are wrong and it is only in our refusal to confront those things head-on that they continue to persevere.  It’s time for everyone to stand up to the bad mothers, the emotionally distant fathers, the dysfunctional cousins, the rumor-mongering siblings, and every other injustice that they see happening on a daily basis in their every-day lives.  Blog about it, write about it, Tweet about it – whatever it is you need to do to prevent yourself from becoming no better than them.  That is the real lesson to be learned here, faithful blog followers:  in truth and what is right, rather than in lies and what is proper, is where we find our salvation.