or, How I Checked Out a Book About Making Organic Leather Goods at the Library Last Week
Me: There’s this thing called the economy, and it works kind of like the weather. Sometimes the sun is shining and we all get to go outside and have jobs and buy houses and eat fancy lunches at Olive Garden. Sometimes it rains, and everyone stays inside and eats lots of hamburger and watches too much America's Next Top Model on basic cable. Right now, it’s raining out. It rains and rains and thunders and then rains some more. A lot of people (including us, soon) cannot even afford to have basic cable, because of all this rain. This is a metaphor, of course, you see that, right? It’s not really raining; some jackass monkey man spent all of our money on toys to play soldier on the other side of the world and then a balloon popped and some bad men gave themselves bonuses…you get it?
So, when I was a teenager, like your sister, we were all looking forward to graduating high school, launching multi-million dollar web-ventures of our own, and walking around for the rest of our lives with sun shining out of our asses. We did not expect unfavorable atmospheric conditions to begin just as we had to leave the house to find money to pay off our nice college educations.
Wendy: Life’s not fair, is is it?
Me: Right. I digress. It did rain, and here we are, and I don't want to cry about all the evaporated expectations. And if you are going to watch The Lion King six times every day, can you please stop channeling Scar?
I am trying to be like my grandma here. She was born in the Depression era, and raised four kids in the Philadelphia projects while her husband was in the military. (Don't get your Dora panties in a twist, I'm only nominally comparing my situation to hers. We are a few steps away from being there. I know that.) My point is that my mom remembers having a good childhood, and they did not have fancy lunches anywhere. My grandma had a good attitude. She made raisin smiley-faces in the oatmeal seem like a very special,
magical treat. For dinner.
She also drank and smoked a lot. I don’t plan to do that. I can do the raisin thing, but you’ll have to settle for a more lucid, if less overly cheerful mom. Sorry.
Wendy: Are you a happy monster?
Me: Yes. That’s about the size of it.
Anyway, I know that you don’t really need the excess of things to which kids have become accustom. If we can't actually live at the Disney Store like you want to, you'll be fine. If they never give us a mortgage so we can buy our house, if we have to actuallyleave this house and rent a much smaller one with less yard, if you get one birthday present this year instead of three…you will be fine. You were never going to have a constant shower of expensive stuff anyway. I'm not worried about the stuff you are going to miss out on. That stuff will not make you a better, smarter, happier person.
I am worried about not being able to tuck you in at night because I’m working nights at the mall. I’m worried about taking a job an hour away and not seeing you during daylight hours at all. I’m worried about putting you in daycare where people do not know that you deserve to be loved every minute of every day. I’m worried about these things affecting the way your dad and I see the world and, mostly, I’m worried about you growing up with broken, unhappy people all around you. I don’t want that for you. I am determined to prevent that from happening.
I also don’t want to hear about the apocalypse coming in 2012. Dear Hollywood, can you not make twenty movies about it between now and then? Can you just let us raise our kids on hamburger and over-cooked optimism without having to also contemplate how we will feed them after Global Warming Eats Us All?
Wendy: Lions eat antelope.
Wendy: What’s antelope?
Me: It’s kind of like a deer.
Wendy: Oh. Can we eat antelope?
Me: No, but we can eat deer. Let’s become organic farmers and eat deer somewhere in the mountains. Would you like that?
Wendy: I like to eat deer.
Me: Good. I’ll teach you how to tan hides. After I learn how to tan hides. I love you.
Wendy: I love you so much, Mommy. Can I have a blue lolly-pop?
Me: Yes. Blue lolly-pops are free at the post office.