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I have, on occasion, made the decision to not make a decision. It might be called procrastination or laziness by some people by I firmly feel that sometimes making the decision to NOT make a decision can be the best option. Maybe in the old days this was called “giving someone enough rope to hang him or herself”. Maybe it’s the old “lets wait and see”. But for me, someone who is prone to a pressing need to take care of business here and now, no procrastination allowed, Making a decision on all matters open to decision is very important to me. Somehow it soothes my OCD brain to make the decision but that decision be to not make a decision. Comments welcome. :]
It amazes me that so many of history’s greatest atrocities have somewhere in their midst the phrase “not so bad”. I watched “Bach in Auschwitz”, a documentary about the women in the female orchestra that played for the prisoners and nazis as the prisoners were brought in, gassed and burned. The music was so the prisoners would think that place was “not so bad”. When white supremacists began to band together into small groups, specifically in the south, when forced desegregation began in the late 50s, their actions were deemed “not so bad”. When America began using forced sterilization in the 1900s on the mentally ill (and whose model was used by the nazis later on) it was thought “not so bad”. Maybe “not so bad” should be defined as “You think this is OK but it will get much worse.”
(“nazis” not capitalized due to a lack of reverence for the group for which it stands.)
I remember when my stepson moved in with us. It was 1999 and he was 4. (Yep, that makes him 17 now as I write this; good for you all you math whizzes out there.) I didn’t think it was a big deal. Not having children of my own didn’t strike me as a particularly challenging hurdle; I, like many women, just assume when kids are around you will magically tap into your maternal instinct and everything will just “work”. As I soon realized, it doesn’t really pan out that way. So, months in, after I realized my husband and I had very different parenting styles, different discipline measures, different expectations, I went on the grand search for help. Not many books on stepparenting, not much on the Internet. What I did find all had to do with “blended families”; the Mom already has kids and the Dad already has kids. All the situations did not apply. I wasn’t in the situation of choosing my kid over his; I was in the situation of a kid – just ONE kid – suddenly living in my home. Unlike a dog, you can’t just put out food and expect him to eat it. A dog doesn’t pout or throw tantrums, and a dog CERTAINLY doesn’t manipulate. Oh, and grandparents don’t stop by the house and offer advice on how to raise the dog. Being the left-brained creature that I am, I immediately decided what was logical for me to do and what was really not my scope. This situation was akin to a stranger moving into my house, whether he was a child or not. I was doing most of the cooking so I would continue doing so; I was doing most of the cleaning so that would continue also. I was not used to cleaning up the throw-up, poop, urine, spit, toys, and clothes of a stranger and flatly refused to do those things. I was not used to bathing a stranger, dressing a stranger or cajoling a stranger to eat oatmeal but was suddenly expected to do those things. Hmmm. Maternal instinct is either a fictitious crock or I was an odd person. None of those “OMG-Is that feces on the wall” moments struck me as cute or cuddly. I expected my husband to hire a babysitter on an occasional Friday night so we could go do something – anything that didn’t involve a kid. And no, grandparents and biological Mom didn’t count as a babysitter. I expected him to HIRE (as in PAY) a sitter, goddammit. Why? Who knows… Maybe I had/have territorial issues? I felt it was not my job to wash the kid’s clothes,to clean his room, to make his bed, to teach him to brush his teeth, or to teach him the physical boundaries of the edge of the toilet (how can someone so short find it so difficult to get the urine in the toilet when his peanut is practically IN the toilet?) I wasn’t sure whose job, exactly, it was to do these things, only that it wasn’t my job because I was not this kid’s mom. My husband, who by the way, wrote a book to help men understand their female partners (My Wife, on Amazon), did not get my adamancy on these issues. In fact, we clashed on so many issues we ended up in couples counseling to try to find some middle ground. Seems the psychological counselors out there know all about these conflicts but they don’t seem to be sharing publicly the secrets to resolving them (job security?). Our counselor explained BOUNDERIES to us. I was allowed to have boundaries, which meant if I was around, there would be no spitting of food across the table, no rummaging through any old handbag found lying around, toys would be picked up occasionally, bed made each morning, teeth brushed at least once a day, and no tantrums. These things could occur when I wasn’t around but that would be up to my husband. She also explained that since I was not the kid’s mom, I couldn’t be expected to clean up after this kid. The rosy picture my husband had in his mind was of us living in a quiet little house with a white picket fence happily ever after. The counselor explained to him that his expectation of my instantly falling in love with this child was entirely futile, that sometimes stepparents do learn to love thier stepchildren but the best he could hope for was mutual respect between his child and me. She also told him to tell his parents and other busybodies to butt out. Tensions eased quite a bit after the counseling but I still can’t tell you whether or not the “child-rearing experiment” (as I have come to think of it) has been a success or not. My husband and I have been through some tough times and every day brings new chaos. I guess, no matter the situation, one can get used to certain things while never letting go of others. An occasional meltdown is almost inevitable. Just the other day I went on an hour’s rant over the fact that the china set I’ve had for 20 years (and had thought I’d have forever) has been all but destroyed in the last 4 years by this child in the house. Women with no children can become as brittle as formica about certain things. I have no children by choice but even women who biologically cannot have children quickly become accustomed to the sharp edged fragile delicateness of a childless home. Finding a chip on the china or even peanut butter smeared on the underside of the kitchen countertop can set them off. The child may live with you but that doesn’t mean you have ever become well-equipped to deal with a child in the house.
My husband told me of a guy friend yesterday who is thinking of moving in with his girlfriend and her young child. This guy is a disciplinarian and the girlfriend is not. Honestly, my first instinct was to tell him to run as far away as possible. Pretty sad on my part, I know, since you’d think that after we have collected so much information on how to make this work that we’d proudly share all the ins and outs. Maybe I’m not ready to counsel people yet on how to make it work. Even after 10 years the hurt is still too fresh. My husband then mentioned that this guy wants his girlfriend to hire (as in PAY) a babysitter, not just use grandparents, when they need a break. Wow, I’m not that psycho ornery anti-kid lady after all.
What happened to tea length? I saw a lot of this length in dresses and gowns when I was a kid. There seemed to be an aversion during that time period when I was growing up to having gowns dragging around on the ground or getting caught on the rhinestones of one’s shoes. Recently I caught an episode of Project Runway and one of the judges was complaining that the floor length gown wasn’t long enough. It was already at the floor! And I recently attended an event and wore a long gown. It tangled between my legs all evening and got caught on my shoes. So I went to the web and looked at mid-century (1950s or so) gowns and wedding dresses and, although they were tea length, they were very elegant, elegant enough for very formal occasions. So I want to start seeing tea length dresses. I will start making and wearing tea length dresses. Of course that means the nice frilly underskirts that make these tea length dresses look so poufy and beautiful. I looked at some patterns online from antique pattern dealers. I think I can probably drape one myself. Published patterns tend to not fit me, Even though the patterns show broad shoulders and small waists they don’t actually fit people with broad shoulders and small waists. So a published pattern is only ever a starting point for me anyway.
Someone told me once that as people age their ears keep growing. Well, as you look around it does certainly seem to be the case. But what if someone had their ears pinned back (plastic surgery to pull protruding ears closer to the head) as a child or young adult? Does this somehow interrupt this process? Will they have young ears forever? Additionally, will they tend to look younger always because they don’t have “old” ears?
Costuming is an art form all its’ own. It combines elements from a vast array of resources. One has to know how to sew, how to construct, and -most of all- how to solve problems. When you embark on a project you can end up using materials from the fabric store, the woodshop, the dollar store, the craft store, and maybe even a flower shop. The idea is to MAKE IT WORK. In my opinion the spur of the moment ideas for costumes are the ones that present the greatest challenges but also end up being the most fantastic -and dare I say- magical.