Thursday, February 16, 2006

ARRGHH!!

This is a little rant that may give you some insight into my background.

I'd like to start by saying that I love my parents very much. They raised me to be a loving, responsible adult, and for that I am grateful. However....

Valentine's Day, Z and I took cards over to my parents. Dad is 76, Mom is 73. They're both healthy and quite active. They spend 4 days a week at their remote northwoods cabin, where they cut wood for their barrel stove, snowmobile, and enjoy the birds and wildlife. My parents have 1 major fault; they're very closeminded. EVERYTHING is either right or wrong to them. Shades of gray don't exist.

We TRY to stay on "safe" topics of conversation with them, but there are times when this just isn't possible. Tuesday was one of those times.
It all started with a conversation on the rebuilding of New Orleans. Mom has decided that it shouldn't be rebuilt, because that would eliminate their "evil" Mardi Gras celebration. Mardi Gras IS an occult celebration, you know. Z patiently tried to explain that Mardi Gras was French for fat Tuesday and that it was a Catholic celebration before the start of Lent.

When that didn't work, Z tried changing the subject to his homeschool English lesson: Haiku. Mom can't understand why kids today have to study Japanese poetry. Her generation didn't study stuff like that; the old English and American poets were fine for them. I tried to explain that Haiku was a very simple form of poetry that ANYONE can write. It's a great place to start when introducing kids to poetry.

This topic segued into a conversation on Hiroshima and how some people think dropping the bombs was a bad thing. I said that I'd read an article that said MAYBE we were engaged in peace negotiations with Hirohito when we dropped the bombs and that MAYBE it wouldn't have been necessary. Rule #1-NEVER discuss WWII with my mother. She's very passionate on the subject and often doesn't have her facts straight.

My Dad changed the subject by asking if we were going to the movie on Tuesday night. What movie? The gay cowboy movie, of course. I should have seen this one coming. I told him that L didn't want to see it, but I wanted to rent the video when it comes out. They think it's wrong to make a movie on this topic. They did acknowledge that SOME homosexuals are born that way, BUT why encourage this behavior in a movie? I guess I should be grateful that after 20 years of arguing this topic with them, that they have finally decided that SOME people are born that way. They used to think that ALL gays CHOSE their sexual orientation.

At this point Z decided that we should be getting home so he could finish his schoolwork for the day. Smart kid; quit while you're behind. Z saved me from going into a rant on how horrible I think it is that the local evangelical and Baptist churches have boycotted our new doctor, who recently moved here with her partner and their new baby.

When we got home, I took 2 Tylenol with a rum and coke. Much better!
After I got rid of my headache, I made us our Valentine dinner of broiled shrimp, linguini with garlic butter and parmesan cheese, and broccoli with cheese sauce. Dinner with my sweeties and SANE conversation saved the day. Z is STILL giggling about his Grandma thinking Mardi Gras is occult. Laugh it up kid, you didn't have to live with them!

44 Comments:

At 2/16/2006 7:49 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Your parents are probably very frustrating for you. Quite entertaining for us, though. My mother has gotten more and more liberal through the years. She's 75 and more fun all the time.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day. :-)

 
At 2/16/2006 8:01 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Yes, Squirl, it IS better to laugh than bang my head against a brick wall!
My parents USED to be fun. I miss that!

 
At 2/16/2006 8:56 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

My mom has been gone for three years, and I still have nightmares about not being able to please her!

 
At 2/16/2006 9:22 PM, Blogger European said...

Ahh, parents. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em (biologically speaking).
What I find particularly sad is the whole boycotting the gay doctor thing. I'm okay with persons being of the opinion that homosexuality is bad/wrong/sinful/etc.; what's important is how you act on it. And a church making waves like that and spreading hatred and ignorance makes me hopping mad. Jesus told people to love each other as God loved them (the most important commandment). And sorry to brake the baptist hearts, but God loves homosexuals, too. If I were attending that church, the Sunday they told me to boycott that doctor would be my last one there.
*steps off soapbox*

 
At 2/16/2006 9:49 PM, Blogger scrunch said...

dinner with sweeties??...that's sounds so, uhmmm, unmasculine? Thought I was a hunka hunka burn........never mind; you can call me sweetie all you want..wench (honey)

 
At 2/17/2006 4:18 AM, Blogger Faltenin said...

"Mardi Gras is occult"

hohoho

what do they say about Halloween???

 
At 2/17/2006 7:18 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

European said: " If I were attending that church, the Sunday they told me to boycott that doctor would be my last one there." My sister attended a church that told the congration how they should vote or be damned. She stopped going as regularly, but can't quit entirely because her husband is so into it.

As for parents, I was raised by a female Archie Bunker. When we started out in NY, it was the Jews, the Puerto Ricans and the Sicilians who were targets. When we moved to NC, the blacks became the target. When we moved to TX, the Hispanics were the target. We used to tease our mom when racial slurs would emit from her mouth. Like when she'd be driving through Austin traffic, "Wow, mom, you've hit a new record, 8 racial slurs in less than two miles. Ooo, look, there's an Indian family in the next car! Quick mom, make a comment about the guy's turbin or facial hair." She would get so mad at us for laughing at her. But I think it's helped her see the ridiculousness of her prejudice. She's more tolerant now than she was, and a very liberal Democrat which speaks volumes. I think prejudice stems from ignorance and the more you're exposed to "the other" and begin to understand it, the less fear you have for it.

 
At 2/17/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger SME said...

Ugh. Well, I guess I shouldn't tell Grandma that:
A. I listen to jazz every Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras would be fine with me if there were fewer drunks and boobs involved.
B. I don't think we should have dropped the bomb; Japan was already vanquished.
C. I saw Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding, and it wasn't bad at all. I also saw Capote. And I watched "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" once, and totally agreed that squiggly mirrors are tacky.
But, I console myself with the thought that Grandma and Grandpa are just stubborn and sometimes confused. Grandma mixes up Nazis and Communists all the time, for instance; she thinks Himmler or somebody banged his shoe on the podium.

 
At 2/17/2006 2:34 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

GWB, I'm pretty much a disappointment to my parents too. Mostly because I married the WRONG man.

You and me BOTH, Euro!! What part of LOVE don't these churches understand?

Sorry babe(how's that?)!

Faltenin, for some reason Halloween is fine! Hey, I don't expect it to make sense anymore.

LOL, VV!! I would have LOVED to have done what you and your siblings did to your mother! Unfortunately I'm an only child and had NO moral support. :(

SME, you DO realize that it's MY FAULT that 1/2 of your closest friends were gay, don't you? We were too liberal in your upbringing. That's what I get for marrying your Dad. ;)
Be nice to me or I'll tell Grandma how subversive you are!

 
At 2/17/2006 5:47 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

OH you poor babies and lucky that you have Z!!!

Totally sympathize...I still have nightmares about my dad and he died in 1989.

 
At 2/17/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, this is why I'm such a stickler about letting our kids have thoughts of their own.
L and I have really cool philosophical discussions with the kids all the time. There doesn't have to be a right or wrong answer, just thoughtful discussion.

 
At 2/17/2006 9:45 PM, Blogger SME said...

Wait, did you make my friends gay, or did you make me have gay friends? I'm confused. ;D

 
At 2/17/2006 10:17 PM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Oh my goodness. That was such a funny read although I'm sure while you were livin' it, it wasn't funny at all. I'm glad that my parents are cool enough to know that we just all have different opinions about stuff. We don't really talk about religion or politics or anything that could divide us because we have so much more in common that we can talk about. Like the kids or movies or work or music.
Families are just like that.
You love them the most and then again, sometimes, you hate them the most too.

 
At 2/18/2006 7:34 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

This time it WAS funny Sadie. It's usually frustrating. Z and I had a really hard time keeping a straight face. If we would have laughed at them, they would've been irate.
The only thing we have in common is some books and a love of nature. They don't do movies or music, and our kid's interests baffle them. :(
To top it off, they totally can't understand how SME and I can talk on the phone for 3 hrs on those topics. They actually get angry and jealous about it, so I rarely tell them that we've called each other. They're missing out on so much, but it's their choice.

SME, I'm not sure. Maybe YOU could ask them? ;)

 
At 2/18/2006 8:45 AM, Blogger SME said...

"Hey, did my mom make you gay?"
Heehee.

 
At 2/18/2006 8:59 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I meant Grandma and Grandpa smartass!
Go to bed; your're getting punchy! ;)

 
At 2/18/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Your parents actually sound like my grandparents used to. Both of my grandfathers were in WWII and did not discuss it. I have a hard time understanding people who see in black and white like that. Given their ages, I'm surprised they have relented on some of their views of homosexuality. Z reminds me a lot of my son in the way he interacts with his elders - it's quite endearing. You're lucky to have him. :-)

 
At 2/18/2006 10:56 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Notta, I have the feeling that Z and K would be great friends if they ever met. They have so much in common.

 
At 2/18/2006 11:55 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

please note: new blog address.. greatwhitebear2.blospot.com

 
At 2/18/2006 12:07 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks GWB, I was starting to think you had writer's block. ;)

 
At 2/18/2006 1:44 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

btw - is that email address in your profile still active?

 
At 2/18/2006 2:04 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Yup.

 
At 2/18/2006 8:45 PM, Blogger Davey said...

My Father gave my sister, brother and I all the same speech when we turned 16. "If you come home with a...insert every racial slur you have ever heard or a Catholic". "You will be dead to me" Yet his whole reasoning for coming to Canada is He hates Irish people because none of them can get along?!? He also will not talk about my Mothers suicde because it's a "sin" I think parents grew up in a time where information was limited to what you heard. Now our "Global Village" is very small and we can planely see that people are people. Regardles of race colour or creed we all have assholes in our midst. As for the organised religion thing....I have a great love for God and his grace. However I do not need a community of people to know every detail of my life and all others lives to let me know....tell me who is wrong and who is right.
Davey

 
At 2/18/2006 10:45 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Davey I have a SIL like that. Goes to church and apparently sits there without hearing a word--judges everyone.

Was raised Catholic but do NOT believe that crap about suicide. There is so much pain involved on the part of the person who does it, not to mention those left behind, it's hard to accept any faith that abandons people when they need it the most.

(getting off of soapbox now...)

 
At 2/19/2006 12:18 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

LOL! Love this entry. Parents are a trip and I have promised the girls that I will be a pain-in-the-butt until I die. I'm looking forward to it!!

All in all sounds like a nice Valentines day.

 
At 2/19/2006 6:58 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Davey, you've hit the nail on the head!! My Mom was 9 when WWII started. She still bases her opinions of the war on what she heard at home, and viewed in newsreels.
I've known sooo many people like your Dad. Many have changed their views when their kids DID come home with a minority mate. Unfortunately, some carried out their threat and disowned their child. My brother-in-law disowned his daughter when she married a black man. He later decided that he wanted to be part of his grandchildren's lives and begrudgingly accepted her decision.
My best friend's husband had to rethink his belief system when he recently found out that their daughter is gay. He even kept his mouth shut when she took them out to a gay bar/restaurant when they visited her last year.
My heart breaks at how you lost your mother. Your Dad's attitude had to make it impossible for you kids to deal with your grief. I'm thankful that you now have your own loving family to spend the rest of your life with!
Welcome to MY church Davey. That's exactly how I feel about organized religion!

Monica, my aim is to live long enough to be a problem to my kids. My plan is to do this through the grandkids. Apparantly my parents are living that motto now.

 
At 2/19/2006 7:56 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Tshsmom said: "LOL, VV!! I would have LOVED to have done what you and your siblings did to your mother! Unfortunately I'm an only child and had NO moral support." Yes, one of the few advantages of being one of seven kids to a single mom, she was sooo outnumbered! :-)

 
At 2/19/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

Your parents sound a bit like mine...but much more amped up. Lately, my Dad hasn't gotten ever more irritable. My Mom, however, has gotten more laidback. Go figure - they're also products of the War era, both came of age then. Oh well, they can drive me nuts, but I love 'em anyway.

I can't believe you made most of SME's friends gay...don't you know you've led them to sin? Now stop with all that liberal stuff before you do more damage.

 
At 2/19/2006 12:05 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, I'm really scared about the upcoming years. Issues like driving and assisted living scare the hell out of me! At least I'll have the kids and L for moral support now.

LMAO Shawn! It was only HALF of SME's closest friends, and one of them I haven't even met!
BTW, I'm also responsible for SME "living in sin", as we let our unmarried friends sleep together, in our home, when they'd come here to visit. HOWEVER, my parents allowed SME and her boyfriend to share a bed at their cabin. They agonized over this decision for quite a while. So if Z decides to "live in sin", it's THEIR fault!

 
At 2/19/2006 9:43 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Who'da ever thought the back woods of Minnesota would be such a Peyton place!

 
At 2/20/2006 8:40 AM, Blogger Laura said...

It's potential conversations like that that keep extended family gatherings in my house focused on the kids schoolwork, the weather, sports, and that's about it.

 
At 2/20/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Hey, the winters are cold GWB! ;)

Laura, we TRY to stay in neutral territory. Schoolwork wasn't even safe this time.

 
At 2/21/2006 10:53 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I'll remember this post when I feel like complaining about my dad, who is an ex-army gun-toting conservative fanatic, and my mom who is a guilt-ridden religious wannabe nun. Can you see why they didn't get along? At least your parents have things in common!

Seriously, though; I can see how growing up would have been challenging. It's a great credit to you that you turned out so openminded. We can all move beyond our upbringings if we choose to do so.

 
At 2/21/2006 5:24 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

WC, I think I learned by bad example.
Growing up, I vowed to always give my future kids a chance to voice their opinions.

 
At 2/21/2006 8:21 PM, Blogger zydeco fish said...

EVERYTHING is either right or wrong to them. Shades of gray don't exist.

That's exactly how mine are, and I just assume that I'll be that way one day. Isn't that our destiny?

 
At 2/21/2006 8:49 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ZF, I've given my kids permission to shoot me if I get THAT bad! They've cheerfully agreed.

 
At 2/24/2006 10:48 PM, Blogger Bhakti said...

Wow-It's definitely difficult to be around closed-minded people when you have such an open heart--especially when it's your parents and you can't just 'leave'.

I often wonder why people spend so much time judging others, but, I guess we'll never know. It's just where they are right now. Perhaps your unconditional love will soften them up a bit. Maybe not. I hope so.

I always thougth Mardi Gras was a drunkards bash for the shear sake of getting plastered and making insane displays of public nudity and mayhem. Wow, come to find it's occult, too?? Darn. I had no idea.

;)

 
At 2/25/2006 2:54 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bhakti, I have made headway in a few areas. A LOT of things I just ignore; it's not worth the fight.

 
At 2/26/2006 9:24 PM, Blogger Bhakti said...

Oh my gosh--right after I wrote to you (in the above comment) I got into the car with my dad to go to my neice's birthday party, and AS SOON AS IT GOT INTO THE CAR he picked a fight with me. I engaged, then I realized that he has this thing with always worrying that he is going to be late. So, basically, his anxiety about being late manifested in picking a fight with me. As soon as I realized this pattern in his behavior (everytime we get in the car to go somewhere!) I dropped the arguement, which made him even more upset!!!

Parents are funny. As soon as he realized that we weren't going to be late, he acted like our spat never happened and started talking to me in his loving voice. That's just the way it goes, I suppose.

I guess my job is to NOT engage in his little spats when I get in the car to go places with he and my mom. ;)

 
At 2/27/2006 5:11 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

LOL Bhakti!!
My daughter's strategy with her grandparents is to look serious, nod, and say "um hmm". I'll have to try this, since changing the subject obviously doesn't work. ;)

 
At 3/04/2006 3:56 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Wow! A lot to kick around. Depression is a disease, like any other. It is potentially fatal, as with a number of others. If not closely and correctly managed, the patient might die. The cause of death is suicide. It looks like something willful. Only a diseased brain, however, could overpower the incredible drive to survive amongst humans.

This is important for survivors to know. They always question themselves. Maybe I should have done this, or not done that. Was it something I said? Something I didn't say? Why didn't I see this coming? Why didn't they trust my love; they could have come to me.

Survivors do not agonize like this over a heart attack. Either way, there is grief and loss. With suicide, there is uncertainty and guilt as well. God cannot possibly turn his back on anyone who dies of a fatal illness.

 
At 3/04/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sage, I've lived through the guilt of 2 suicides. I only wish that they had known how much their deaths have affected the lives of us survivors. We're NEVER better off without them!!!!

 
At 3/04/2006 10:21 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Regarding living in sin, I find that I am a bit of a hypocrite, and far more stodgy than I thought, and I know I am. I welcomed friends into my varius homes who were unmarried, but had a partner. I had no problem with them sleeping together. Well, my best friend could be noisy, but what the heck. I have "lived in sin," both platonically and romantically.

I recently found my limit, though. Same best friend has triplets. She and her husband are separated, with their marriage on the rocks. She still hopes to get back together with him. He never wanted to go in the first place. Not all love is lost, and he is a wonderful father.

They lost their house to a bankruptcy. My friend moved into the same luxury apartment complex with her husband and mother-in-law. The kids have full family access. The only real barrier to a family reunion is my friend's ongoing love affair. It ruined his marriage, too. He, too, had been a great Dad, but lost custody and has almost no visitation -- just what his boys needed.

My friend left the kids with her husband to go on a roadtrip with loverboy. They saw her family in the Carolinas, his in Florida, and made a special swing my way. I took them out to dinner, but was in turmoil in the back of my mind.

They not only would not be sharing my guest bedroom, they would not be sharing my roof. My youth leaves me no room to be a self-righteous ass. None-the-less, even I have my limits. We are still friends. Loverboy is a nice man, better than some she has found. I simply can't stomach the home-wrecking.

My husband knows that I made a couple of painful sacrifices in choosing him and remaining faithful. That is part of life. With his blessing, I continue a platonic relationship with one of them, and occassional correspondence with the other. These are the guys' comfort levels with me.

In person, a time or two, there has been a very strong feeling between me and the regular platonic. We don't rip our clothes off and go at it. In fact, my integrity is one of his favorite features in me.

These feelings and developments seem human to me. Destroying families because you cannot curb your libido is another matter entirely. She might easily have received my blessing if she said, "I made a mistake, Loverboy is the man of my dreams, We are each divorcing, and our marriage will be on this and such a date.

It was still an affair, though. I'm glad they were pressed for time for the next stop. After a wonderful Thai dinner, we parted. He never set foot in my house.

I was tremendously relieved. I didn't know how to break it to them that they weren't welcome. I didn't want to be an asshole. It might have been a surprise, too, after so many years of our being "cool" with each other.

There's a lesson in that. If you have a close friend, and nothing is off-limits between you, enjoy and cherish that. Don't think, though, that there will never be a limit. My friend was as gracious as ever with me, sparing me a painful interaction with her. You youngsters have similar grace as life marches on.

Someone get this pulpit out of my face!

 
At 3/05/2006 7:08 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sage, your friend's behavior crosses MY line too.
Her first priority should be her KIDS, not her libido!
Unfortunately, we've seen this behavior in some of our former friends too.

 

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