Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sometimes Breaking up IS the Answer

I heard someone say today that “Breaking up is never the answer” Really? It’s not? EVER? Come on, there are many people I think we could all agree should just throw in the towel. Spencer and Heidi, Tom and Kate. You know who they are. I think, though, that each of us knows people in our own lives who we just wish would throw in the towel. Maybe they are being hurt emotionally. Maybe they are a different person when they are with their significant other, and it’s not a nice person. Maybe they are just wrong for each other, and everyone sees it but them. Whatever the reason, it’s often painful to watch, and gets to a point of eye-rolling obviousness.
This particular blog isn’t going to tell you how to deal with those people. There’s really no way to “deal” with them, as they are deluded, and you can’t fix what refuses to admit it’s broken. (You can, but they struggle, and the parts don’t screw in quite right.). It’s an open letter to every person who is in a relationship they shouldn’t be in. Maybe you can print it out and mail it to them. Maybe you shouldn’t though. My advice, while always close to divinely inspired, is not often well received. Apparently, it tends to come off as “judgey”. Anyways, Oswego.

You say you’re in a relationship. That’s nice. You’re happy, you say? You love him/her so very much, you say? I sincerely doubt the first, as you are locked out of the house with no shoes and it is raining. The second I’ll buy. (You have to be careful with deluded people. They’re skittish. Like deer. You could lose their trust at any moment) Lets come in out of the rain, shall we? My self-righteousness is getting wet.

Now that we’re in, let’s talk. I’ll skip the inane chit chat and cut right to the crux of the matter. I think perhaps you are not so happy as you believe. Now, now, stop arguing and listen. I want what’s best for you, darn it. In all seriousness, here’s the deal. There’s a time to fight for a relationship, and there’s a time to cut and run. Now would be the latter. I figure though, that you won’t hear it from me, so I’ll let you tell you. Your subconscious knows, even if you don’t. Find a quiet place, away from all outside influence (the woods are nice, or a bathroom with a lock), and answer the following questions and consider the following points. Before you start though, get the whole “Listen to your heart” nonsense out of your head. Just because your heart is saying “yes” doesn’t necessarily mean the correct answer is “yes”. Ask any battered woman. Or perhaps that woman who married the Eiffel Tower. Actually, don’t ask her. Just look at her and learn. Love is as much about being smart as it is about being sentimental, possibly more so. You can love someone who is a motivational speaker and who lives in a van down by the river, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not the right person for you. So use your head. So now, we are not listening to our hearts, we are using our heads. Ready, set, go.

1. Relationships should not be a fight
. Yes, relationships are sometimes a struggle, and there will always be things the two of you need to struggle through together, and yes, you will always have the occasional argument. But if every day is a constant battle and struggle to keep from falling to pieces, there is an issue. A relationship that is already crumbling from within is like a tooth that is rotting from the inside with decay. That tooth is coming out regardless. You only have to choose to recognize it and pull it early on or to ignore the problem and wait until it finally rots away on its own. The first will hurt, certainly, but it will hurt only for a while, and then heal. The second (ask anyone who has waited through this situation) hurts not only as the tooth continues to decay, pain increasing more and more every day, but also the subsequent root canal is, I’ve heard, one of the most painful things ever. You see? Relationships are like teeth. Brush and floss.

2. What kind of person are you when you are with your significant other?
No one is perfect, and you will always have faults, but when you are with the wrong person, those faults become magnified. Do you find yourself becoming jealous? Controlling? Angry? Picking fights where there are none, just to fight about something (been there, done that, by the way)? Most importantly, do you like the person you are when you are with this person? Remember, you have only you to answer to at the end of the day, and if you don’t like that person, you’re pretty much sunk for life.

3. Do you want to be like this forever?
The minor things? Those will come and go, and even if they don’t, they can be dealt with, because they are minor. But what about the big things, especially the big problems? Does one of you have trust issues? Is the other overly-controlling? An overactive temper? A tendency to belittle you to make themselves feel better? These big issues are things that may (and probably will) be with you for the rest of your life. Not to say that people cannot change, but deep-seated issues haunt people, even people who have overcome them. If there are huge glaring problems now that you have been unable to work through with this person, or if one of you is unwilling to change, it may be time to be done. You have to decide if its worth it. Keep this is mind. A bad relationship eventually reaches a point where it turns toxic, and at that point, there is nothing worth salvaging other than your sanity and emotional well-being.

4. Why are you here?
This is possibly the most important question, and the one that requires the most honesty with yourself. Are you sticking around because, even with all the problems, you are comfortable? Is it the security of knowing that you are with someone? Are you terrified of being single? If your answer sounds flimsy, even to you, it may not be good enough. So many people, once a relationship has lost what made it good, stick around because they are afraid of what waits in the dreaded boat labeled “SINGLE”. I promise, though, that boat isn’t so bad. You find out a lot about yourself, and meet a lot of really cool people on that boat. God uses that boat to work on you and make you into who he would have you be (I know, Mrs. Overbearing talking about God working. I am not perfect either, and I talk a good game, but really, all I want is for you to be happy, because I love you, darn it). Don’t be so afraid of being single that you miss opportunities you could have if you would just jump off. I was so afraid of being single that I held onto a relationship six months after I knew it was over. Turns out, God had better planned for both of us, we just had to let go. God always has better, if you let him give it to you.

Here's the deal, my friend. In the end, you can know you are with the wrong person, but it takes courage to admit it, desire better, and walk away. That part is scary, it's hard, and it's heartbreaking. You will probably cry, you will think life will never get better, and you will be tempted to call "just to talk". Don't. This causes only pain and anger. Allow yourself to heal. Allow THEM to heal. Give your heart time to stop hurting and learn to live life single. Erase them from Myspace and Facebook, delete the number from your phone, get rid of all the pictures, gifts and memorabilia. Healing starts when you stop opening the wound.

The End. Hopefully, they will live happily ever after, though, we hope, not with one another.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If your marriage isn't sacred. don't blame the Gays

Are you sitting down? You should be. It’s about to get intense. Here’s the thing. I’m a conservative. I’m a Southern Baptist. I voted for McCain. I’m Pro-Gay Marriage.

See? I told you it was intense.

Here’s the thing about gay marriage. Actually, here’s the thing about marriage in general. Marriage is not a constitutional right, so get that idea out of your head right this moment. Marriage, for all intents and purposes under the law, is a legal partnership between two consenting adults (Yes, I agree to limiting the definition of marriage to two, and only two, adults. Let’s not get silly. We’ve all seen the wonders of polygamy.) Yes, a marriage is entered into with love and trust and emotional attachment and all those other wonderful, gushy things, but my marriage contract doesn’t mention any of that. My marriage contract, as far as I can see, is a legal document. I had to swear an oath…raise my right hand and repeat after the clerk of courts, even.
Marriage (again, under the law only) provides couples with protection in the event of the death of a spouse, tax exemptions, the ability to share insurance, adopt children, ect ect ect. There is literally NO reason to exclude a citizen of the United States from something that is given to the rest of us over something that is, at it’s base, a purely moral, and mostly religious issue. It seems to me that this resembles the miscegenation laws a bit too much. Remember? When a black woman and a white man (or vice-versa) could not marry because of the color of their skin? Or even, and this is a bit of a stretch, but go with me, the fight in the early 1900’s that secured the vote for women. Men beat these women in the streets because they found it morally reprehensible that women would want to take a hand in their nation’s politics. American History is littered with inequality based on the argument of morality and tradition.
It is not enough anymore to deny marriage to certain individuals based on the beliefs of the religion you practice. I mean really. If a national law allowing gay marriage did pass, how would churches feel if they were then required to marry homosexuals? You would hear pastors in pulpits across America screaming “Separation of Church and State!” Government and Religion in our country are not meant to mix, as much for the Church’s protection as for the Government’s. The Government can make no law restricting or dictating the practices of any religion, and Churches cannot expect Congress to uphold a practice that is discriminatory simply because it goes against the words of the Bible.
So what is the Church to do? Well, for one, if you find homosexual behavior morally reprehensible, don’t marry them in your church. Simple. There are at least 200 churches, notaries and justices of the peace in Jacksonville ALONE. Homosexual couples aren’t going to be offended that you won’t marry them.
Sidetrack! Actually, I can't say that. Maybe they will be offended, but homosexuals who would be offended, listen up. No church is, or should be, required to do anything that goes against their moral code, and you can't be offended every time someone disagrees with you, that would be exausting, and also pointless. In fact, how much integrity can a religious institution have that will go against what they truly believe in order to be politically correct and earn the few dollars that an officiation fee would bring? Come on, No one is required to agree with anyone else, and really, if they find your behavior morally reprehensible, why would you want them to marry you anyway? Remember that the fact that someone doesn't agree with you doesn't make them judgemental. It makes the different.
Where was I? Ah yes, churches that won't marry homosexuals on moral grounds, and homosexuals who may or may not, but shouldn't be offended. Point is, there are other officiation options. Also, Church, listen up for a minute, because this is important. Isn’t our goal to win souls to Christ? How good a job are we doing by telling homosexuals “Jesus Loves You! We Love You! But we don’t want to have the same rights under the law that we have, because Jesus says you don't deserve them. Sooooryyyyy” What makes the church think that outlawing gay marriage will somehow achieve the goal of winning people to Christ, which is, I thought, supposed to be our primary focus?
“But Rai! What about the sanctity of marriage?!”
What about it? If your marriage isn’t sacred, don’t blame the Gays. Maybe you need to look at your own life and decide what’s going on to make your marriage less than sacred. The governemt doesn't make a marriage sacred. A marriage is sacred because of what it means to the two induviduals entering into it, not because of how the government defines it. If your marriage suddenly loses sanctity because Gay Gary and Lezzie Linda* are allowed to marry their respective partners, it can't have been that sacred to begin with.
“But Rai! Don’t you believe what the Bible says about Homosexuality?!” Actually, I do. I don’t approve of the lifestyles of my homosexual friends. There. I said it. But, to be fair, I don’t approve of the lifestyles of a lot of my heterosexual friends. I’m judgey that way. (Ask me about my plan for your life. I dare you) That doesn’t mean I’m going to ask them to turn in their voter registration cards and social security numbers until they’re ready to ascribe to my version of morality. I love them, because that’s what Jesus told me I'm supposed to do, and I leave the legislation to offer equality to everyone, because that's what it's supposed to do.
Point is, we have to stop seeing the law as a way to push the religious agenda. The law is there to protect the citizens of our country, and to provide equality for as many as is possible. It is not there to evangilize, to win to Christ, or to proselitize. That's OUR job, and if we're expecting the law to do it for us, we are being lazy.

*I apologize for the use of Gay Gary and Lezzie Linda. They are close friends and said it would be ok.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have two daddies. Not in a California, Vote-Yes-On-Prop-8 kind of way. In a complicated sort of way.

The father I've known my whole life, Victor, is an amazing man. I am proud of him, and take every opportunity to allow the words "Air Traffic Controller of the Year, 1993" to escape my mouth. See? I just did it again. He met my mother when I was only 18 months old, and married her when I was 2. This man did not have to be the father he was to me. He loved me unconditionally, never favored my sister, who was his daugter biologically, and cried as he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. I was always and forever his little girl, bloodlines be damned.

My biological father, of whom I have very few pictures, and none in digital form, was Chris Walls. My mother's high school sweetheart, and a man who, I've heard, was incredibly amazed with his little girl. The Lord called him home when I was 19 days shy of my first birthday. I have virtually no memories, and those I do have could very well be invented memories born from pictures I've seen and stories I've heard. I have a copy of Alice in Wonderland, his favorite book, with a note from my grandmother telling me so. I have a copy of Treasure Island with the name "Christopher Walls" written inside. I have a photo album that shows me the orgins of faces I make, smiles I've seen in the mirror, and hair that gives me trouble on a daily basis. It is an interesting feeling, to have a father one has never met. There is no sense of grief, persay, becasue one cannot grieve for what one has never known. There is, however, a sense of loss, or, more appropriatly, of a missing piece that I will never get to know. I feel almost cheated out of meeting this man. So many people, my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles and cousins, have memories of him, while I, his daughter, have none. It is like only knowing half of where you come from, while the other half is clouded in mystery.

It is a complicated emotion. I love my father more than anything in this world, and I would not trade him. How does one grieve the lost peices of her heritage while not undermining the love she has for the man who raised her? I have asked myself if I would trade what I have for the ability to know Chris, but quickly abandoned the question because I realized it's pointless. Whether I would or not is irrelevant. I have been dealt this hand, and nothing changes it, whether I would will it or not.

His death cannot, because of my age at the time, pain me, although as I have grown older, there has come an unfamiliar ache and occasional, unexplainable tears when I thnk of this man who gave me parts of who I am and was then called away so suddenly.

I call myself blessed. Two men loved this little girl, and two men formed who she would become. God has given me a blessing in this, if sometimes a bittersweet one.

If any of his family read this, I would ask for your memories. I have none of my own that would allow me to know him, and if you have them, I would accept with utmost gratitude. I also hope that my ability to be candid does not offend or anger. It has taken me a long time to find the ability to put these thoughts into words, and my ability to write far outdoes my ability to speak.

If you have memories that I can borrow, email me

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stranger Danger

I am a nanny, currently. For the past three years, I worked at a childcare center, and worked in every age group offered. Before that, I babysat...and babysat..and babysat. I devoured texts on children, on child development, on child psychology, ect ect ect. My AA is in education, and I will be getting my CDA next year. Clearly, children are my forte, and I adore them.
Which is why it suprises people that I detest the Stranger Danger program. Detest it.
Stranger Danger doesn't have an actual website, but McGuff has the basic idea here

Don't get me wrong, Stranger Danger teaches good enough concepts. Don't talk to strangers, never take candy or a puppy from someone you don't know, Always stay with a group ect ect ect. But there are some major flaws in the program.

The first problem with Stranger Danger is that it tells children what to do to NOT get abducted, but not what to do IF it happens. A child doesn't have to talk to a stranger to be abducted. Someone who wants to abduct a child isn't going to be detered by the fact that their target won't speak to them. If an adult wants to grab a child, they are going to, and Stranger Danger doesn't teach what to do if you are grabbed by someone. It kind of leaves kids hanging at the end. "Don't talk to strangers, but if that doesn't work, you're SOL" There are three completions to the concepts Stranger Danger teaches
The program is on to the right idea, because it does tell kids to run and to yell. Getting closer, Stranger Danger. Telling a child to run is well and good. Telling them HOW to run is better. An adult is almost always going to be faster than a child, but a child who knows how and where to run has a better chance.
Rule #1: Run fast, toward the nearest house, store or building, and NEVER EVER look back. When you get to a house or building, POUND on the door and scream that you need help. Screaming while you run is helpful.
Looking back slows you down, and if you're being pursued, seconds count. I don't recomend telling a child that last part. Don't look back is enough.

Secondly, it tells children to yell. Tell me, adults, if you see a child struggling with an adult, screaming his lungs out, what will your immediate thought be? Not kidnapping, that's for sure. A child struggling with an adult, screaming? That's a temper tantrum.

Rule #2:Scream words.
"You're not my Daddy!" "I need Help!" and "Amber Alert!" alert people to the fact that there is a problem, especially in a crowded place, like a mall, where there is security.

Thirdly, Stranger Danger never tells kids to get violent! Isn't the first rule of rape that if you fight back, most rapists will leave you be (I don't know how true that is, but that's what we were always told)? Even with no martial arts training, a child can inflict damage and pain when they need to.
Rule #3: Kick, Punch, Hit, Pinch, Bite. You won't get in trouble later

Even with those glaring holes, the biggest problem with Stranger Danger is that it teaches kids to safegaurd against something that, in all liklihood, will never happen to them. Stranger sbductions account for a miniscule percentage of all abductions. In 2001, 3200 to 4600 children were abducted by non-family members, and 62% of those were stranger abductions. Keep in mind, that means that 38% of these children were kidnapped by someone they knew. In contrast 183,200 to 354,100 children were kidnapped by FAMILY MEMBERS, and most of these by parents. This means that, in 2001, 1.09% of all abducted children were abducted by strangers. The other 99% were abducted by someone they knew, and probably trusted, and the vast majority of those were by parents.
You can't safeguard against parent abduction (well, you can, but that goes into choosing a spouse and such, and that's completly a topic for another day), but you can make sure your children know to never go anywhere, with anyone, even their best friends mom, unless you have approved it first. You can make sure they know that they never have a reason to be alone with an adult unless you have told them it is going to happen. This is a sticky situation, but one that can be dealt with.

Rule #1: Let your kids know that you will let them know if someone besides you is supposed to pick them up, drop them off, or take them anywhere.

Rule #2: Have a password or a passcard that must be told to or presented to your child if there i an emergency and you cannot pick them up. Change the password any time it is used. Older children do well with this, because they can remember that the password changes. Younger children would do well with a laminated passcard that simply says "I Can Pick Up Billy!". The Adult must get the card from you and give it to your child to let them know they really are allowed to pick up your child.

Rule #3: Have open communication with your child. Tell them that no adult should ever tell them to keep a secret from you. Make sure they know the parts of their body that no one is allowed to touch without their permission, and make sure they know that they can always tell you if they feel like something happened that shouldn't have.

You cannot completly safeguard against kidnapping, but you can take actions, beyond Stranger Danger, to ensure that your child knows how to activly avoid abduction.