iamtheinvisiblehand

Posts Tagged ‘parent

I’m behind the news as usual, but I was lucky enough (?)  to catch about 45 minutes of the interview Lance Armstrong gave Oprah a few weeks ago and even though it was just a tiny piece of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I caught the gist of it.

Like everyone who has seen the news in recent years, I’d heard a lot about the accusations against Armstrong regarding the use of steroids that allowed him to win 7 Tour de France. I guess I was always a little suspicious, especially since he was a cancer survivor, and now that I’ve seen the toll cancer treatment takes on its victims,  for a while there I was truly impressed despite my doubts.

But after seeing his interview, if I had to say one thing is that although it was supposed to be some sort of act of contrition to come clean about his doping past, I have never seen more a more calculated and rehearsed speech in my life. And Oprah, with all her years of experience said that she had been surprised by his candour, or something like that. I may not be an expert journalist or have a degree in Psychology or in any field remotely related to human behavior. I am, however, a consummate introvert. I’m  the girl sitting in the corner quietly, paying attention to everyone else, observing their attempts to attract attention and be in the spotlight for a while. I may not have many personal or social skills, but I am definitely a good judge of character. And I can say, without any doubt, that Armstrong did a fine job at fooling everyone.

It was clear that he was mortified for getting caught, but not for what he’d done. That he’d lied over and over to everyone and that when anyone hinted at the possibility that he’d been doping himself he’d retaliate like a spoiled child who is denied the pretty shiny toy he wants and showed no mercy until he got his way, no matter what the cost might have been for others. And for that he showed no remorse, no regrets.

He mentioned his kids, and how he’d finally come clean because he saw that he could no longer have them defend him when all the accusations made against him were in fact true. And again, what I saw was that he was almost angry he’d had to tell them the truth, but not truly remorseful. And you know, now that I’m a mother, I’ve learned one thing that has guided me through a lot of situations, and it’s this: if you can’t tell your kid about it, or have to lie about it and risk them getting hurt as a result, it’s probably not a good idea. If we do something that we become ashamed of and can’t afford to let our kids know about it, then we’ve definitely done something wrong.

He also said it was impossible  to win the Tour de France without using steroids, or whatever it was he used to win. That was a hard slap in the face for all the others who have competed honestly and trained long and hard every year to win that competition. What would legendary cyclists like Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon think about that? For that matter, what about all the other cyclists who never had the chance to win the race while he was competing because he was on drugs and they were not? Furthermore, the other competitors still fought their way through the competition even though they knew they slim to no chances of winning while they had to race against Armstrong, and that is a tough psychological component to beat.

I’m not naive, and I’m sure doping has become more common in competitive sports than it used to be before. Nevertheless, Armstrong had no right to imply that everyone was doing it if he was not going to present proof to back his words. Actually, I’m kind of shocked no one from the race-cycling industry has come out yet to set the record straight, but I’m pretty sure they won’t – and can’t afford  to – stay quiet for much longer.

Anyway, after all has been said and done, I’ve concluded the many of us out there simply chose to believe that he was a hero, the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be like, because he is the ultimate survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. What’s really sad is that I’m sure that he would’ve been just as highly regarded and respected no matter what his ranking was at the end of these competitions, because he’d already accomplished su much and gone so far. It is definitely much easier to see a hero, even though we know deep down that there is nothing more than a liar there.

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I’m not biased or anything, but as a moviegoer – especially now that I’ve slashed my movie outings from once or twice every weekend to once a month – there are certain crowds I just wish I didn’t have to put up with while trying to enjoy a movie.

I’ve narrowed them down to these 4:

1. The giggly girls. They manage to giggle about every single thing, but they are especially annoying during suspense or horror movies. I remember vividly a couple of stupid girls sitting next to me during Shyamalan’s “Signs” who just couldn’t stop giggling even through the scariest parts. And don’t get me started on the fits they have when there’s some kind of skin exposure, or if the actor is cute, because sometimes it’s not even worth enduring the rest of the film.

2. The teen boys. Not only do they fail to pay attention, but because they get bored after a few minutes, they start talking to each other – LOUDLY – or throwing their popcorn at unsuspecting viewers behind or in front of their seats. As if that weren’t bad enough, they keep asking one another what is going on, because none of them seems to be able to grasp the essence of the movie. And I’m not talking about serious or complicated movies, like say, “Inception” in which if you don’t pay attention you can easily get lost, no. I’m talking about “Puss in Boots” or “Transformers”. I mean, how thick can you get?

3. The parents with the bored child. Sigh. You can spot them easily because the child is already showing signs of a meltdown even before the movie has started. At some point, the child will get uncomfortable, either by having to sit still for 2 hours or by the insanely loud audio theaters are using these days, and the tears will come shortly after. In the end, they just waste their money because they have to leave before the child has a full-blown tantrum. I feel bad for these parents, having suffered this myself, and in their defense, there is truly no way of knowing beforehand how a child is going to behave during the movie, no matter what their behavior was five minutes before entering.

4. And last but not least, the phone-addicts. I mean, not only is it spelled out in huge letters across the screen, cinemas usually get the star of the upcoming blockbuster to tell people to TURN OFF THEIR PHONES. And still, these people think that the world will come to an end if they turn they wretched thing off.  Even if, let’s say you need to be available for whatever reason (even though it’s hard to believe a person can’t be spared 2 hours of their precious time, but whatever, it happens) , you can silence the device and still enjoy the movie. If it does ring, at least it will be silent and you can swiftly leave the theater to take the call. These people, however, never do that. Not only is their phone left on, it is not even silenced. To make matters worse, the phone is more often than not stashed at the bottom of the purse (in the case of the ladies) or in some unreachable jacket pocket (in the case of the men), so it takes them about 4-5 rings before they can get to it. And then, they answer it. IN THE THEATER. LOUDLY. And no matter how many “shhhhhes” they get, it’s like they’re in their own little world where there is no one and nothing else but the phone and themselves.

I’ll just have to forget about Saturday night screenings and stick to Sunday morning screenings, as teenagers and phone-addicts don’t usually get up that early.

from topnews.in

I was doing my usual “tour of the news” this morning when I found the following headline on msn.com:

White births are now the minority in the U.S.

America has long known this moment was coming, and now it’s official. According to the Census Bureau, white births are now the minority in the United States. Data released today shows that white births represented 49.6 percent of all births between July 2010 and July 2011, with births of minorities tipping the scale at 50.4 percent. Overall, white Americans are still the overwhelming majority (63.4 percent), but, as the population ages, it’s expected their proportion will ebb rapidly
I know governments must keep track of what’s going on, even if only for the sake of statistics, but really?
I’ve always been part of the “minority” wherever I’ve been: as a child in the West Indies, I was part of the white minority. Later on, in South America, as a foreigner (even though I’m a citizen) mainly because of my name. As an adult in Europe, again, the immigrant minority. And even though the only place I ever truly had a hard time was in Europe when I was trying to get a job, I have to say I´ve never thought where a person came from or what their color of skin was should make any difference at all. We can’t control the place where we were born or the color of skin we inherit, so why should it be an advantage or a shortcoming, especially since it has nothing to do with the kind of person we are?
I’m not going to get dragged into the whole “immigrants steal jobs from citizens and don’t pay taxes” discussion because that is not the point here, even though I do have a lot to say on the issue, seeing as I’ve seen and lived enough of it to have an informed opinion. I will say, however, that even more disturbing than the way the headline was written, were the comments made by the people who read the article.
I can’t believe there are still people out there who think that belonging to a certain ethnic group makes them somehow better or superior.
A famous Argentinian comic book character named Mafalda once said: “it’s amazing how far humanity has come and how little intentions have changed”. She couldn’t have said it better.
The world is one big melting pot composed of several smaller ones in each country, there is no denying that. We are all a mix of foreigners blended with the indigenous populations of the places where they finally settled (except maybe the pioneers), so where exactly does “purity of the race” lie or that annoying sense of entitlement come from?
If we are still focusing on this, then as a people we deserve no better than our current fate. If we continue to disregard the lessons of past mistakes, then history will definitely repeat itself with a vengeance.

I went to my daughter’s school yesterday for a conference with my daughter’s teachers and the psychologist. 

The meeting with the teachers was to give us our daughter’s report card; we met with the Psychologist for something else, I’ll tell you in a minute.

Anyway, the report card basically stated what we already knew: our daughter has a hard time concentrating and staying put; she’s a chatterbox and gets easily distracted; she also has a huge, dominant personality that is difficult to handle. However, all learning goals were achieved for this term, regardless of all the BUTs.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyone with a 5 year-old knows that part of being a 5-year old entails focusing on something for a few minutes and moving on to something else just as quickly. Granted, some kids are more focused than others, but I’ve rarely seen kids this age truly engaged in anything for more than 15- 20 minutes. So no surprises on the report card.

The Psychologist was there because we were worried about our daughter’s pre-adolescent behavior (mommy I don’t love you anymore, etc.), so she had been doing some tests and talking with our daughter to figure out what was going on.

And so there was a hint at ADHD. Hubby and I decidedly ignored it, so the Psychologist dropped the subject as soon as it had been brought up, mainly because our daughter doesn’t entirely fit the profile.

Growing up, I took care of a 6 year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD . The kid could be a handful, but once you found ways in which to keep him busy, he would indeed, keep busy for long periods of time, albeit always under a watchful eye because he could turn his bedroom upside down in a matter of minutes. He loved reading, puzzles and building stuff, so that is basically what he’d get to do after, say, finishing his homework.

Based on my experience, ADHD exists, but it is harder on the caretakers than on the child. The child has no way of grasping that he/she has a condition that makes it difficult to focus and stay focused.  I also believe it is getting harder with every passing day, because kids are exposed to a million things each day, a lot more than we were at their age, so it should be more difficult to concentrate.

I’m not in denial, because I know my child isn’t perfect, but I don’t think kids should be slapped with ADHD at the slightest indication of poor concentration. What’s worse: it seems that most of the parents of my daughter’s classmates were told that their kids also got easily distracted and had a hard time focusing. So what is it, then? All of our children are on the road to ADHD or is it a generational thing that we, as parents, will have to deal with?

And then came the rest of the conversation.

It appears that our daughter has a strong personality and is always on the dominant side, a natural leader. But of course, since she is not always the most well-behaved child, she often steers the other kids into mischief. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not the devil reborn either, not even close, but she certainly does enjoy telling others what to do.

This, obviously, is a problem for any caretaker, be it a parent or a teacher. As the parent, I can tell you she can be quite difficult to handle at times. However, I firmly believe a strong, assertive personality is rather a good thing if we manage to deal with it properly. She knows what the rules are at home and she usually follows them, so I know that as long as there is structure and that she respects it, she’ll be ok. I refuse to be the one that crushes her spirit, bans her spontaneity and makes her become a follower instead of the leader. Sure, achieving the balance is hard, ongoing work, but hey, who said parenting was easy?

Anyway, at the end of the conference, adding insult to injury, the Psychologist suggested we have another child as a way to harness our daughter’s rebellious tendencies.

Wow.

Even though the question was dealt with swiftly, because it is a real physical impossibility (due to my hormonal, metabolic and spine-related health issues), I can’t see how this even concerns her at all.

First of all, in what world does having a second child help resolve “behavioral problems” with the first child? I thought people had children because they wanted to have  a family, and love them and raise them and give them what they need so they could grow up to be decent human beings.

It appears that the notion of having an only child is far from beneficial, because only kids have way too much of everything and tend to be dominant and selfish because they have no one to challenge their turf. I thought having an only child meant I could dedicate more time to her instead of having to clone myself trying to be available for anyone, and providing solid financial security (at least for her education) .

Does that mean that children who have siblings are easier to handle? Are they not dominant and selfish as well, in addition to other stuff? Is it true that having more than one child guarantees that the siblings will have a close relationship and accompany one another?

I have 3 sisters, and I honestly don’t think that it was a pivotal fact that made me the way that I am, even though it probably played a part. I also disagree that just because you have a sibling you will automatically be close and will accompany one another. Again, even though I have a cordial, healthy relationship with all my sisters, I don’t consider them my friends and I don’t even consider them close to me. Sure, there must be people out there who are on both sides of the spectrum: there are those who consider their siblings their best friends, and those who want nothing to do with their siblings. Generalizations don’t seem to apply here either.

And there’s another reason why, even if I could, I wouldn’t want another child.

I already have the life I always wanted. I manage my own business, which allows me to organize my schedule according to my needs. I get to spend as much time I want with my daughter and husband. I get to take care of (almost all) our family’s finances. If I had another child I’d have to start over again and things would never be the same.

And I’m not being selfish here. I’m just well aware that I would never be able to give that second child the same type of life I’ve given my daughter, and that would definitely be unfair. Sacrifices would have to be made, and I’d have to make all of them.

I’m not really complaining about my husband when I say this, it’s just the way things are.

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you that last week I was reading some magazine, and I found a picture of Ben Affleck with one of his kids (maybe Violet?). Anyway, the caption said something like “Look, how sweet of Ben, babysitting his daughter”. I almost choked. Babysitting? I thought Ben was the father of his children and as such, what he was doing was called parenting, not babysitting. But see, the common mistake here is that since the mommy is supposed to take care of the kids, she is the one doing the parenting and dads are only babysitting. Great.

And that is exactly the underlying issue here. When children are involved, mothers are always expected to step up and take over, while no one expects the dads to do much of anything. Again, I’m not criticizing or generalizing, but let’s be honest, even when dads pitch in, the feeling that they are already doing enough is so ingrained, after centuries and centuries of being told that their duties entail taking care of the family (financially) without really being involved, that it’ll take a few more centuries for them to shake off those teachings completely. 

If another child comes into the picture, guess who’ll have to stop working, at least for a few months and probably start over again. Guess, who ‘ll have to keep doing everything as before and add another million tasks to her everyday life. Guess who’ll have to make sure our daughter doesn’t feel left out and jealous with the arrival of a new baby. Guess who’ll have to suck it up if she never gets her life back.  All of this is added to the smaller things mothers do everyday and go unnoticed, like setting up and taking the child to medical appointments; knowing the date of every single past and upcoming event; knowing which medications and how much they need to take; knowing when your child has had a bad day or is just out of sorts; knowing exactly what clothes are too short or which shoes are too tight. You get the picture. 

It may sound cold, putting it this way, but honestly, I’d rather learn to deal with my spirited daughter and not jeopardize everything we’ve already accomplished as a family. I’m aware of my limitations and I’m not about to ignore my instincts just to see if things could get better. If I knew, without a doubt, that having another baby was not going to be a task that was exclusively mine, that I could maybe drop a few duties to handle everything else, I’d rethink it, although I’m sure my decision would still be the same.

So no, no more children here. AND, no more psychologists either. Three is OUR perfect number.

I don’t know where the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” came from or whom (the darn who/whom dilemma – TBD in another blog!) we should thank for coming up with it, but it is 100% accurate.

Our family, or at least the people we are close to, are the people we should respect the most and be grateful for every single day, and yet I find that  it’s the hardest thing to do. 

I mean, think, for instance, how many times you’ve evaded a call from your mother. Or how many times in your life you’ve been decent towards your sibling (s).

I, for once, am guilty on all counts, and it’s not that I don’t love these people: it’s just that sometimes I just can’t stand them. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Now, I know, say in the U.S., it’s common to send your elderly parents to a nursing/retirement home according to their needs and what the kids can afford, but that is not as common in other latitudes, no matter how practical it may be. On this side of the American continent, it’s quite rare to do such a thing. Of course, it’s also quite rare to leave your parents’ house before you’re 25-30 and you only do so if you’re getting married or have a decent job that pays you enough to support yourself.

Even though my mother is fine and quite able to fend for herself, she is well aware that if and when the moment comes, she will be placed in the nicest home we can find for her, because none of us is willing to sacrifice our relationship (and by that I mean the relationship between her and her daughters) for the sake of not feeling guilty for not taking care of her ourselves, when we are clearly not capable of doing so properly. 

My grandmother, however, is another story entirely. She just turned 94 and although she is as lucid as she was 30 years ago, her body just won’t do her bidding anymore. Since she lives with my mother, my mother has had to hire someone to take care of her around the clock. Needless to say, that is the one expense that takes up most of her pension.

My mother would never allow herself to place her own mother in a home because the guilt would probably kill her, and my grandmother would probably die of boredom and depression, thus increasing the guilt of my mother, etc..

But you see, the true contempt here is not between my mother and her mother, but between her brothers and her and her brothers and their mother (my grandma). You see, all this time my mother has been taking care of my grandma, her brothers – my uncles – have barely even tried helping her, and I’m not restricting this to financial issues.

Brother # 1, the one who helped her out and was definitely closest to her, was killed almost 9 years ago, so that was that. Brother # 2 is the most miserable miser I’ve ever met: although he worked his whole life in the banking system – in Senior positions, by the way – for reasons unknown, he has always claimed to be broke (which I know for a fact is a big fat lie). He is so thoughtless and stingy that knowing that my poor grandma can barely chew on mashed potatoes, when it’s his turn to buy her lunch on the weekend he buys her a sandwich. Brother # 3 helped her until he lost everything he had when Stanford Eagle fell. The guy had invested his own money and his company’s money there. And despite being quite a far way from classifying as broke, he now claims he is so he won’t have to help out. And Brother # 4, well, even though he helps with grandma’s diaper and medical bills, he is not doing half what he could, seeing that he might as well have won the lottery with the amount of money he makes.

Money is just one part of the problem. The other is that they rarely visit her (grandma, their mother) or talk to her or show their concern for her. I think that that’s the worst part. When they do show up, they watch TV, read or talk to somebody else, but they don’t really interact with her. They know that she is there, but she might as well be another painting on the wall with the amount of attention they pay to her.

Having been raised by my grandma between ages 8 and 13, I know that she wasn’t the most affectionate or patient caretaker and I can’t imagine what a full childhood with her must have been like and what my mother and her brothers must have endured. But still, she is their mother, she raised them and she was there for them when they needed her. Why, then, are her boys like this? How can anyone be so cold towards their own mother, especially now that she is 94 and completely helpless. Why is it that now that she needs them they treat her like a nuisance?

I’ve even thought it might be a gender thing, but I don’t like generalizations so I’ll avoid them altogether.

The other  part that has caught my attention is that my family’s case is not the only one – it’s now more like an epidemic. Everywhere I go, and almost everyone I know has the same issues with some elderly family member and I think that that is just plain sad. And it’s sad not only because of everything I’ve just mentioned, but especially because it shows quite clearly that somewhere down the road we lost our humanity and our compassion.  We are no longer grateful. We don’t want to be burdened with things that we feel are not our problem. We no longer care that we have a family, that we are part of a larger structure and as such can’t just ignore what happens to each and every part of that structure.

The hardest part is that I know they love their mother. They just can’t and won’t be bothered.



  • None
  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

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