Sunday, July 24, 2005

Just call me "Mom Schmuck"

I must have “MOM SCHMUCK” written across my forehead.

This weekend, I have faced the following quandaries.

My daughter’s friend slept over. I made it really clear we would be going to church that evening, and we’re in the car ready to go and the girl didn’t have any shoes. On further questioning, not only did she not leave the shoes in the house, or forget to bring them, she didn’t have any shoes period. I know I live in Kentucky, but still, what parent doesn’t even bother to go to the Dollar store and get their kid a pair of flip-flops? We don’t live on the side of a mountain, as you might be imagining right about now, but in a town. We have stores. There’s a Dollar store within walking distance. Well, maybe not within walking distance if you don’t have shoes, it’s about two miles.

The same mother just never came to get her child the next morning. It is now 1pm. I’m wondering if I’m expected to feed her lunch. The mother never even called or discussed the sleepover with me. Of course, their phone is out of minutes, but it seems like it would be worth a walk over since we just live down the block.

Another girl has called about five times this morning, asking to come over. My daughter doesn’t really like her, and we already had three girls here, so I suggested if she called again not to pick up the phone. This same child has called and left nine messages on our answering machine when we weren’t home. I don’t feel eight-year-old children should be allowed to pester people this way. Approximately five minutes after let the phone ring without picking it up, the child was dropped off at our house with no confirmation whether it was okay or not.

Now I know all of this is my fault. I should put my babysitting rates on the door, or simply say no. But I have to wonder why I would never do these kinds of things, and other parents appear not to care. I have never just left my kid at someone’s house after a sleepover waiting for a phone call to come pick her up. I always verify what time I should come, and leave phone numbers where I can be reached. And I never just drop my child off at a friend’s house without talking to the parents about it.

Seriously, they must think I’m a schmuck, and I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe I should move.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When I send my daughter out to play, I think of Shasta

I've resisted writing about Shasta because I don't want to contribute to the continued specter of the manufactured terror of the nightly news. Plus, child abuse is painful to think about, and I worry my thoughts will become too large and burst out of my head, or somehow draw bad energy to our lives. I know it’s crazy to think this way. And that is the best description for my neurotic mommy thoughts about my child’s safety. Crazy, neurotic, over-the-top.

I've done all the things paranoid mothers do. I've searched through the sexual predator registry, aware it is only a list of those who've gotten caught and had the decency to keep their listing current. There may be predators living in our neighborhood that haven't got caught yet, and I have no way of knowing. Terror lurks behind every neighbor door.

It may be hard to believe, but some of the mothers on our block are more fearful than me. One girl is not allowed to play outside at all, while another can only play outside with her brother. I think imprisoning a child in their own home is another form of child abuse. But I can also understand it.

I've decided to defy the news stories, letting my child play outside with groups of children, nervously looking out the window and checking on her every twenty minutes or so. I know if anything ever does happen, people will blame me for not watching her every second. It only takes a few minutes to snatch a child, but I also don't think it’s wise to watch every waking moment of my daughter's life. It’s sending her the wrong message, that girls aren’t free or liberated in any way, they only exist to be snatched and molested and killed. I don't want to send that message. How could we exist in a world like that? So I pretend everything is okay, and slowly drive myself insane with worry.

Back to Shasta.

I couldn't help but go read Duncan's blog ( I wanted to see if I could detect his insanity. Could I tell if the person writing in the blog had the potential to do what he did? I felt desperate to have the intuition or piercing insight to see his insanity in his posts. My daughter's life could depend on my discernment.

In the blog, it's obvious that he is a convicted child molester, but I never got the sense he would commit the crimes he's been accused of. Not all child molesters are murderers. Of course, they murder the soul, but bludgeoning parents only in order to take their children is a different level of perpetrator. I have to admit I couldn’t tell by the postings that his future would be splattered on the nightly news. He seemed somewhat normal. He also seemed honest somehow, to let us know up front who he is. There were spelling errors. The postings didn't say anything too outrageous. We bloggers suffer from the ’look at me, look at me’ syndrome, and I’ve read more outrageous posts in other blogs. I couldn't be sure if he was trying to get attention as a blogger, or if he was a madman crying out for help.

I've wanted my daughter to play outside and enjoy her childhood. My reasoning is that my child probably has a greater chance of being hit by lightning, and I let her play in the rain. At, it says, "According to NISMART-2 research, which studied the year 1999, an estimated 797,500 children were reported missing; 58,200 children were abducted by nonfamily members; 115 children were the victims of the most serious, long-term nonfamily abductions called "stereotypical kidnappings"; and 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions." As far as sexual abuse, the site says, "Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood, yet less than 35% of those child sexual assaults are reported to authorities."

The other day, my daughter and two of her friends went 'missing' for about 45 minutes. I'm embarrassed to say that when they showed up sporting dolls and smiles I went berserk. We don't live in a big city, btw, we live in a safe small town in a rural area of Kentucky. I don't pretend that this makes us safe.

Completely panicked, I yelled at her, mentioning a news story from the day before, of the three children getting found dead in the trunk of the car. Later, I wanted to gasp my words back, but it was too late. I couldn't help my outburst. I had to make her understand the danger, forgetting my pledge to make her feel safe and secure so she could feel free to reach her potential. Maybe my wishes for my daughter's sense of security is all a pipe dream, maybe young women will never feel safe in our society. But I feel obligated as a parent to try.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I hate my pets

I hate fish. Not for eating but for pets.

I have to say the fish actually seem to like me; they swim to the side of the glass every time I come near. Either that or they're looking for food. One of our fish is a simple orange goldfish we've had for three years now. It started out at two inches and has doubled in size. Just right for eating. Of course, we won't be eating it because we're vegetarian. I didn't really think it would live that long, and I guess it is a testament to my loving care that it has survived.

I thought fish were a good idea, a lot less smelly and need less attention than a cat or dog. So anyway, the reason for my ire about the fish is that the aquarium filter has mysteriously stopped working and the water is a cesspool. It smells horrid and the water is murky. I'm not sure how much the filter will cost, but probably not less than $15 and not more than $40. Since I spent every dime I had on our vacation last week, I don't even have money to replace the filter until Friday.

The point is that I don't like the fish, will never like the fish, and resent having to care for something so slimy. Don't even get me started on the lizard and its strange requirements. I was happy the lizards didn't smell, but unhappy to learn that the crickets they eat do smell. And you have to go buy them once a week, feed them to the lizards 'live', and listen to the chirping all night.

I think maybe it would have been smarter to get a cat. Cat litter is messy and smelly, but at least I'd care about it and it would give some loving back for it to be worthwhile.

Yep, should have gotten that kitten.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Grandma has taken to bringing my daughter clothes when she comes over. I guess she feels like I don’t dress her properly. Yesterday she brought a red ribbon for my daughter to wear in her hair. My daughter is long past the age for bows, so imagine my surprise when she let her grandma put a bow on her. Later she said she was embarrassed, but I think she kind of liked it.

We’re at odds on this issue. I’d prefer my daughter didn’t wear the cute dresses and bows. She’s a tomboy, and likes sports. But my daughter thought it was a novelty to wear a cute little bow, so what do I know?

I guess I felt a little damaged by all the tacky little old-lady outfits I used to have to wear. And my mother would always encourage me to ‘smile.’ Later, I felt like I didn’t want to always smile. Smiling implies you’re happy, even if you are being insulted or treated like dirt. You shouldn’t have to smile all the time. But my daughter doesn’t mind. I guess this is some generational divide. In any case, she really does look cute in those bows.